When Do Barbells Start To Bend? – The Surprising Truth

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If you’ve ever wondered why barbells bend, how much weight it takes to bend them, or how to prevent your own bar from permanently bending, you’re in the right place. 

We’ll delve into the science behind why a bar might bend, explore its impact on different types of lifting, and provide practical advice on how to handle and choose barbells to avoid bending. 

So, let’s dive in and unravel the mystery of barbell bending together!

What Causes Barbells to Bend?

Ever walked into a gym and noticed a barbell that’s not quite straight? It’s a sight that can make any gym-goer raise an eyebrow. So, what causes barbells to bend?

Barbells can bend due to two main reasons.

The first is lifting really, really heavy weights. We’re talking about the kind of weights that make your muscles scream and your face turn a shade of red that rivals a ripe tomato.

The second reason is dropping the barbell in just the right (or wrong, depending on how you look at it) way that causes the metal to bend.

Now, you might be thinking, “I’m careful with my equipment, I should be fine, right?” Well, not necessarily.

Even with the best intentions, accidents happen. A momentary loss of grip, a slip, or a failed lift can result in the barbell hitting the ground hard and potentially bending.

For more information on how to handle your barbell properly, check out our barbell handling guide.

How Much Weight Does It Take to Bend a Barbell?

The amount of weight it takes to bend a barbell can vary depending on the specific barbell and its quality.

Generally, high-quality barbells used in weightlifting and powerlifting can handle very heavy loads without bending significantly. 

However, even the strongest barbells have their limits and can bend or even break under excessive weight or improper use.

Some common types of barbells used in gyms have weight ratings that can range from 500 pounds (227 kilograms) to 1,000 pounds (454 kilograms) or more.

These weight limits usually refer to the total combined weight of the barbell, including any weight plates or collars attached to it.

It’s important to note that bending a barbell is not a desirable or recommended practice, as it can compromise the integrity of the bar and increase the risk of injury.

For more information on how much weight different types of barbells can hold, check out our barbell weight capacity guide.

The Impact of Barbell Bending on Different Types of Lifting

Barbell bending can have a significant impact on different types of lifting.

Let’s break it down!

Olympic Weightlifting

When it comes to Olympic weightlifting, a bit of barbell whip (the bending and rebounding of the barbell) can actually be beneficial.

The slight bend in the barbell when lifting heavy weights can help store energy, assisting the athlete in getting the barbell overhead and into position.

It’s important to realize that even if the bar whips around and has flex, the bar should absolutely snap back to a straight position afterward.

Here are the best Olympic Weightlifting barbells if you’re interested in learning more.


On the other hand, powerlifters typically prefer a stiffer bar with little to no whip. This is because powerlifting exercises like the squat, bench press, and deadlift require stability and control, which a stiffer bar provides.

Check out the best powerlifting barbells here for more info.

General Fitness

For general fitness enthusiasts, a bar with a moderate amount of whip is ideal. This allows for versatility in exercises, from Olympic lifts to powerlifting moves.

For more information on the different types of barbells and their uses, check out our types of barbells guide.

The Consequences of Using a Bent Bar

Using a bent barbell isn’t just an inconvenience – it can also be a safety hazard. Bent barbells are more likely to snap at a critical time and hurt you. They can also cause discomfort during certain movements due to the bend.

The severity of the bend, the way it is bent, and what you’re planning to use the barbell for all factor into whether or not a bent barbell is safe to use. However, a new barbell will always be the better choice.

Check out the difference between a deadlift and a stiff bar, one of which bends much more than the other, here.

How to Avoid Bending Your Barbell

Avoiding bending your barbell comes down to two main things: proper handling and care, and choosing the right barbell for your needs.

When handling your barbell, be mindful not to drop it in a way that has your barbell land bar first. Of course, we all fail a lift from time to time and it’s better to drop the bar than to get injured, so getting a quality bar that can take a hit or two also helps.

Choosing the right barbell is also crucial. Look for barbells with good build quality and high tensile strength.

Tensile strength is a measure of how much your barbell can hold before it breaks or fractures and is usually listed in the construction specifications for each barbell.

What to Do If Your Barbell Bends

If your barbell ends up bending, don’t panic. You have a few options. The best course of action is to replace it with a better barbell. However, if your budget doesn’t allow that, there are still ways to use a bent barbell safely.

For starters, consider looking into alternative exercises to avoid using the barbell as much as possible. For every barbell exercise, there is a dumbbell-only counterpart.

Choosing a Barbell That Won’t Bend

When shopping for a new barbell, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your new purchase won’t bend.

Firstly, look for barbells with good build quality and high tensile strength. As mentioned earlier, tensile strength is a measure of how much your barbell can hold before it breaks or fractures.

Secondly, consider your style of training. Different types of training require different types of barbells. For example, powerlifters who lift heavy weights often should invest in a quality bar.

For more information on how to choose a barbell that won’t bend, check out our barbell buying guide.

Frequently Asked Questions


Understanding why barbells bend is crucial for anyone who uses a barbell in their workouts.

By knowing what causes barbells to bend, how much weight it takes to bend a barbell, and the impact of barbell bending on different types of lifting, you can ensure you’re using your equipment safely and effectively.

Until next time,


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