What Size Barbell Should I Use For The Bench Press?

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When it comes to the bench press, one of the first questions many lifters ask is about the size of the barbell they should use.

Yes, the barbell’s size can make a huge difference in your performance and safety.

But with so many options out there, how can you know which one is right for you?

In this guide, we’ll cover what size barbell you actually need for the bench press. Exploring lengths, diameters, and answering all your questions. So, let’s get started!

Barbell Length

How long should a barbell be for a bench press? The length is one of the most crucial aspects to consider.

First, you need to figure out the length that will fit your rack. If you have a standard-sized rack, an Olympic bar, generally 7ft long, is what most people go for.

But if space is a constraint, or you’re looking for something more specialized, there are shorter bars available.

man incline benching in rack

For those who like to lift heavy, a longer bar is beneficial as it allows you to load more weight plates.

But remember, a longer bar might also be more challenging to control, especially during your last rep.

On the other hand, a shorter bar is often preferred for home gyms due to its compact size.

If you’re unsure about which length to go for, always consider your training goals, the space you have available, and your ability to control the bar.

Barbell Diameter

When choosing a barbell for the bench press, your grip is pivotal, and the diameter of the bar plays a crucial role.

The standard Olympic barbell diameter is around 28mm for men and slightly less for women. 

OLYMPIC BAR VS STANDARD BAR 1920 × 880 px 22 1

For those with smaller hands or beginners in bench pressing, a thinner diameter can be more accommodating, making the bar easier to grip.

However, as you advance in your bench press journey, you might want to explore thicker bars.

A thicker bar introduces an elevated challenge, particularly engaging more of your forearm and grip strength.

  • 29mm Power Bars – These bars are typically thicker than the standard Olympic bars. The 29mm power bars are favored in powerlifting circles due to their rigid nature. Their increased thickness, leading to less flex, is ideal for bench pressing heavy weights. The solid grip they provide ensures lifters can push their limits while feeling secure.
  • Thicker Grip Bars and Bench Pressing – Beyond the 29mm power bars, there are even more challenging bars: the “fat bars” or “axle bars”, which can have diameters of 2 inches or more. If you’re looking to challenge your grip while bench pressing, these bars are a must-try. They can be a game-changer in strengthening your forearms, translating to a more robust bench press over time.
  • Specialized Bars – There are also other specialized barbells tailored for various bench pressing needs. For instance, multi-grip bars offer varied hand positions to target different muscle groups or cater to specific injuries, while cambered bench bars allow for a deeper range of motion. There’s a vast range of specialized bars available, each designed to enhance your bench pressing experience in unique ways.

Can you bench press with a 4, 5, 6, or 7ft bar?

Yes, you can bench press with bars of these lengths, but each has its advantages and drawbacks.

The 4ft and 5ft bars are generally used for specific exercises or in tight spaces.

The 6ft bar is a good middle-ground, offering a balance between compactness and the ability to load a good amount of weight.

As mentioned earlier, the 7ft bar is the standard Olympic bar used in most commercial gyms. The choice of length should depend on your specific needs.

Which barbell to use for the bench press?

For general training and if you’re just starting out any type of Olympic barbell is a fine choice.

These bars are robust, versatile, and fit most racks. However, if you’re into powerlifting or looking for something more specialized, you might want to look into a powerlifting barbell.

Should I use a thin or thick bar for the bench press?

This decision generally depends on your hand size and training goals.

A thinner bar is easier to hold, especially for those with smaller hands.

A thicker bar, on the other side, can make the lift more challenging by engaging your grip and forearms more intensively.

Both options have their merits, and the choice should be based on what feels comfortable and aligns with your objectives.

Does a thicker bar make benching harder?

Yes, a thicker bar can make benching more challenging. The increased diameter means your grip needs to be stronger, and your forearms will work harder.

This can be great for grip training but might not be ideal for those looking to focus solely on chest development.

Can you use a squat bar for the bench press?

While you can technically use some types of squat bars for the bench press, it’s not always the best choice.

Squat bars are usually thicker and are designed to handle heavy loads across your back.

Using them for bench presses might feel awkward and may not provide the grip or balance you need. It’s always best to use the right tool for the job.

What is the Weight of a Swiss Bar?

The weight of a Swiss Bar can vary depending on the manufacturer and design.

Most Swiss Bars typically weigh between 35 to 45 pounds, though some variations can be lighter or heavier.

It’s always a good idea to check the product specifications or consult with the manufacturer directly for the most accurate information on a particular barbells weight.


Choosing the right barbell for your bench press is crucial for both performance and safety.

Remember to consider factors like length, diameter, and your training goals when making a decision.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned lifter, the right bar can make a world of difference in your workouts.

So, have you decided on the perfect barbell for your bench press? Let me know in the comment section below, right now!

Until next time,


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