What’s the Difference Between Olympic and Standard Barbells?

Deciding on which barbell to go for can be tricky. The differences may not be obvious and some people aren’t even aware that there are differences, but these two types of barbell are not the same and there are a number of differences between them. Let’s take a look.

Olympic vs Standard Barbells


An Olympic barbell is typically 7ft long and weighs 20kg. They have 2 inch diameter Olympic sleeves on each end which are weighted and specifically designed to take Olympic weights. These sleeves offer counter balance so you can load a plate onto one side of the bar and then load the other side without fear of the bar toppling off your cage or bench before having loaded the other end. It’s worth mentioning that you can only use Olympic weight plates on an Olympic bar. Standard weight plates won’t fit and likewise, Olympic weights won’t fit on a standard bar.

7ft Olympic Barbell

Image: 7ft Olympic barbell


A standard barbell, or one inch bar, is usually 5ft - 6ft long and weights 5-10kg. When deciding which bar to go for, it’s worth looking at the space you have to accommodate your bar. Standard bars are a lot smaller and easier to use if you’re restricted on space. Check out your rack, stand or cage to ensure your bar will fit it. If you’re stuck, you could buy a standard bar and adapt it into an Olympic bar by buying a pair of Olympic sleeves for each end.

5ft Standard Barbell

Image: 5ft standard barbell with spinlock ends



The sleeves of Olympic bars are typically smooth and the weights are often secured using 2 inch spring collars or clamps. Standard bars may have either smooth ends or spinlock ends. Spinlock ends require spinlock collars which as the name suggests requires you to spin the collar onto the bar through the thread. Regardless of the type of ends your one inch bar has, don’t forget, it will need one inch collars to secure the weights.


Olympic barbells are usually more expensive than standard barbells. The same goes for the weight plates in that Olympic weight plates cost more than standard weight plates. This is because the Olympic bar and its plates are built to a standard that can handle the potentially vigorous treatment of more heavy weightlifting.


When deciding which barbell to go for, it’s important to consider what your goals are. If you are just starting off on your weightlifting journey or planning to be a moderate lifter, then a standard bar is probably the better option. However, if you are a serious weightlifter, looking to go heavy and regularly increase the weight on your bar then an Olympic bar would be ideal for you. Olympic bars are designed to take significantly more weight than standard bars and are typically of better quality and endurance.