Olympic Barbell Vs Standard Barbell – What Are The Main Differences?

I’ve been lifting for years now, and one of the first things I learned was the importance of having the right equipment.

When it comes to barbells, there are two main types: Olympic and standard.

At first glance, they may look similar, but there are some key differences that can make a big impact on your workout.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the differences between Olympic and standard barbells so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

Clarification Of The Term “Standard Barbell”

If you’re new to lifting, it’s important to clarify what is meant by the term ‘standard barbell’ and how it differs from other types of equipment.

The term ‘standard barbell’ generally refers to a type of bar that is 7 feet long and weighs around 45 pounds. It has a diameter of 28 millimeters and can hold weights with a hole size of 1 inch. This type of bar is commonly found in commercial gyms, fitness centers, and even some home gym setups.

It’s important to note that the term ‘standard barbell’ can vary depending on the context or location. For example, in Europe, standard barbells are often slightly shorter at 6 feet long and weigh less than 45 pounds.

Additionally, there are also ‘Olympic-sized’ standard bars that have a much larger diameter (50 millimeters) and can hold plates with a hole size of 2 inches.

So if you’re unsure about what type of barbell you need for your workout routine, it’s best to consult with a professional trainer or do your research beforehand.

Difference Between Olympic Barbell Vs Standard Barbell

If you’re looking to invest in a new barbell for your home gym or simply wondering what the differences are between an Olympic barbell and a standard barbell, then you’ve come to the right place.

An Olympic barbell, not to be confused with an Olympic Weightlifting bar, is designed for lifting heavier Olympic weights.

It’s longer and heavier than a standard barbell, weighing around 45 pounds with a length of about seven feet.

The sleeves on an Olympic bar are also larger in diameter, this extra thickness allows them to hold more weight plates and provide better stability when lifting heavy loads.

On the other hand, a standard barbell typically weighs around 20-30 pounds and has a shorter length of about five or six feet.

They usually have a 1″ diameter sleeve that can only hold up to around 200-300 pounds of weight plates.

They are ideal for beginners or people who want to perform basic strength training exercises at home without investing too much money on equipment.

To give you a clearer picture of their differences, here’s a table that summarizes the key features of each type:

FeatureOlympic BarbellStandard Barbell
Diameter Sleeve Size2 inches1 inch
Weight CapacityUp to 800 pounds or moreUp to around 200-300 pounds
LengthAround 7 feet long (86 inches)Around 5-6 feet long (60-72 inches)

As you can see from this table, there are significant differences between Olympic bars and standard barbells in terms of size, weight capacity, and length.

Depending on your fitness goals and level of experience, you may prefer one over the other for your workouts. Ultimately, choosing the right type of barbell can help you achieve better results while minimizing the risk of injury during your training sessions.

Weight and Size Differences

The biggest difference between Olympic bars and standard bars is the overall weight/size.

One is going to be bigger and heavier than the other, making it more durable and safer as a result.

Do you want to guess which one that is?

Weight And Size Of Olympic Barbells

The Olympic barbell is the heaviest and largest type of barbell used in weightlifting and powerlifting competitions. It weighs 20 kilograms for men and 15 kilograms for women, with a total length of 7 feet (2.2 meters) from end to end.

The bar’s diameter is also larger than that of standard barbells, measuring 2 inches (50 millimeters). This thicker design allows for more grip during strength training as well as increased stability during heavy lifts such as squats and deadlifts.

Overall, the size and weight of the Olympic bar make it an essential tool for serious lifters who want to push their limits and achieve maximum results in their workouts.

Weight And Size Of Standard Barbells

You’ll be surprised at how lightweight and manageable standard barbells can be compared to their hulking counterparts.

A standard bar is usually shorter than Olympic ones, measuring around 5-6 feet in length. They also weigh less, with a typical weight of 15-25 pounds.

Because they are smaller and lighter, standard barbells are often used for exercises that require less weight or for people who may not have the strength to lift heavier weights.

While they may not be suitable for powerlifting or other advanced strength training exercises, they are still an excellent option for beginners or those looking to do basic exercises like bicep curls or overhead presses.

Overall, a standard bar offers a more accessible and user-friendly option while still providing the benefits of a traditional weight lifting workout.


Moving on from the weight and size of a standard bar, let’s take a look at the sleeves. The sleeves are part of the barbell where you add or remove weight plates.

It is an essential component that should be considered when choosing between different types of barbells.

To make things easier for you, I’ve created a comparison table below that shows the loading sleeve specifications for Olympic and standard barbells:

Barbell TypeLoading Sleeve DiameterLoading Sleeve Length
Olympic Barbell2 inches (50mm)16-17 inches
Standard Barbell1 inch (25mm)10-11 inches

As you can see, Olympic barbells have a much larger diameter on their sleeves vs standard bars.

This means that they can hold more weight plates, making them ideal for powerlifting and other strength training exercises that require heavier loads.

Additionally, Olympic bars also have longer loading sleeves which allow you to fit more plates onto the bar without running out of space.

On the other hand, standard bars are better suited for lighter workouts or those who prefer to use smaller weights.


You’ll notice a big difference in the grip when using an Olympic bar vs standard bars due to the varying knurling patterns. While both types of barbells have knurling, they differ in terms of aggressiveness and spacing.

In general, Olympic barbells have more aggressive and deeper knurling patterns than standard barbells. This is because Olympic lifting requires a secure grip to prevent slipping during heavy lifts.

On the other hand, standard barbells are often used for exercises that do not require as much grip strength, such as curls or tricep extensions.

The table below summarizes the differences between Olympic and standard barbell knurling:

Barbell TypeAggressivenessSpacing
Olympic BarbellMore aggressive and deeperCloser together
Standard BarbellLess aggressive and shallowFurther apart

Overall, whether you prefer an Olympic or standard barbell depends on your personal preference and workout goals.

If you’re performing heavy lifts like squats or deadlifts, an Olympic bar’s more aggressive knurling may be necessary for a safe and secure grip.

However, if you’re doing less demanding exercises, a standard bar may suffice with its lighter knurling pattern that won’t tear up your hands.

Purpose and Use Of Olympic Bar Vs Standard Bar

Olympic and standard bars have very different uses that need to be considered.

We’ll cover the purpose of each in this next section so you can determine which is right for you.

What Are Olympic Barbells For?

If you’re serious about powerlifting exercises like the squat, bench press, and deadlift, understanding the purpose of a specialized piece of equipment designed for heavy lifting is crucial.

That’s where the Olympic barbell comes in. The purpose of an Olympic bar is to allow lifters to safely lift heavier Olympic weights with more stability and control.

One key feature that sets the Olympic barbell apart from a standard barbell is its weight capacity.

While a standard barbell typically maxes out at around 300 pounds, an Olympic bar can handle much more weight due to its thicker diameter and higher quality steel construction.

Additionally, Olympic bars have rotating sleeves which allow for smoother movements during lifts like snatches and clean, and jerks.

Overall, the purpose of an Olympic barbell is to give lifters a tool that can handle heavy loads while providing greater stability and control during their lifts.

What Are Standard Barbells For?

You may be wondering what the purpose is of using a regular bar for weightlifting instead of the heavy-duty Olympic bar you’ve seen at the gym.

Well, standard barbells are typically shorter and lighter than Olympic ones, making them more suitable for beginner lifters or those focusing on lighter weights. They also tend to have a lower cost compared to their heavier counterparts.

Standard bars can come in various shapes and sizes, but they all serve the same basic function: to hold weights and provide a grip for lifting them.

While they may not be as sturdy as Olympic bars, they still offer plenty of benefits for those looking to get into weightlifting without investing in expensive equipment.

Which Bar Should You Choose?

If you’re trying to decide which equipment is best for your fitness goals and experience level, here are some recommendations to consider.

There isn’t any benefit to picking a standard bar over an Olympic barbell. They’re not that expensive if you get a budget barbell, they are much more durable and safer, and you can just get one bar that will last a lifetime.

While standard bars have their uses, it’s better to just get something much higher quality from the start.

Frequently Asked Questions


Now I turn it over to you!

Did this article help you determine the major differences between Olympic and standard bars?

Let me know in the comment section below, right now!

Until next time,


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