The Fundamentals: Weight Bars

Buying a weight bar

If you’re new to buying gym equipment, then deciding on what weight bars are right for you can be tricky. There are so many different types which can make it difficult to know which ones to go for.

Below, we take you through the different types of bar and what they’re used for, so you can get a better idea as to which ones might be best for you to train with.

Weight Bars

An introduction to weight bars

When it comes to choosing the right weight bars, it really comes down to the following factors:

  • How you want to train – whether you’re looking to focus your training around a particular piece of equipment such as a power rack or a weight bench
  • What you want to train – if you’re looking to target a specific area
  • How much you can lift – some weight bars can handle a lot more weight than others and are also a lot heavier to lift on their own. So, finding the right weight bar will also depend on your strength and experience

The main two types of weight bar are dumbbells (one-handed bars) and barbells (two-handed bars).

Traditional dumbbells and barbells are straight and are available in a range of lengths and thicknesses. Barbells usually start at 4ft and go up to 7ft – which is the size you would use with a squat or power rack.

They normally come with either a standard 1” diameter sleeve, or an Olympic 2” sleeve. The thicker sleeves are more common on the longer barbells, as they can take more weight.


Olympic Bar Diagram

What are the different kinds of weight bar?

As well as straight weight bars, there are also a range of more specialised bars including:

  • EZ Curl Bars – these are slightly shorter, angled bars that help reduce stress on your joints as you lift
  • Safety Squat Bars – help to reduce the stress on your upper body
  • Shrug Bars – great for deadlifts as well as targeting your shoulders
  • Tricep Bars – angled to help guide moves such as tricep extensions
  • Axle Bars – thick grip bars that don’t have any knurling or sleeve spin for that extra challenge
  • Thick Grip Bars – knurled bars with a 5cm diameter handle which help to target your wrists and forearms as you train
  • Swiss Bars – multi-grip barbells which allow for a wide range of exercises
  • Farmers Walk Handles – perfect for developing functional fitness
Specialised weight bars pt 1
Specialised weight bars pt 2

Starting out? If you’re just starting out, a pair of adjustable dumbbells will definitely get you well on your way to building up some strength. They’re extremely versatile and when used consistently, will help to ensure balance across your body.

If you’re looking for a barbell, a 4ft barbell is a great choice, as is the EZ curl bar. Both of these can be used for a range of exercises and are great for helping you to develop your strength and technique.

Weight Plates for 1in Bars
Weight Plates for 2in Bars

Already lift? If you are already an experienced lifter, you’ll most likely want to lift using an M3 7ft 20kg Barbell. These are suitable for racks and cages and are weight tested up to 680kg.

More specialised bars will also help you develop strength around the areas that are typically hard to target. These can include Swiss and shrug bars, as well as thick grip bars.

Power rack bar sizes
Power rack size

What weight bar for which exercises?

Weight lifting bar size comparison

Specific types of exercises are often best done with specific types of bars. Here are some of the bars you can use for the most common types of exercises:


If you’ve just started doing squats and only recently progressed to a barbell, then you might want to start off with a 4ft standard bar. These can be used with our adjustable squat stands and are ideal for beginners.

If you are training with a power or squat rack, then you will want either:

as these are the ones that will fit properly across both bar rests. You can also use a 7ft Safety Squat Bar.

Bench presses

Bench presses are typically done with a straight barbell. If your rack is full sized, then you’ll need a straight, 7ft barbell, a 6ft International Bar or a Women’s Olympic Barbell.

You can also vary your bench presses by using an Olympic Swiss bar. These are particularly great for helping you target a range of muscles as well as reduce any stress on your joints.


When performing deadlifts, you’ll want to make sure the weight bar that you’re using is suitable for rubber bumper plates. This means you’ll need to use an Olympic 2” weight bar.

This will typically be a 7ft barbell. However, you can vary your deadlifts by using a shrug bar. These are particularly good for helping to shift the weight back, so that you can focus your posterior chain.

Axle bars and thick grip bars can also be used but are more suited for experienced weightlifters.

Bicep curls

For the best results, many people will use dumbbells for bicep curls. However, there are definitely a few types of bars that you can use to perform this exercise.

EZ curl bars will help to reduce the strain on your wrists and are great for doing bicep curls. Tricep bars can also be used for doing bicep hammer curls, so are a great way to vary your workout.

More advanced lifters will also be able to use a swiss bar to perform a range of curls.

Tricep extensions

If you’re just starting out, then using a dumbbell and doing tricep extensions one arm at a time is a good idea. This is because you can use the non-working arm to hold your elbow steady as you train.

Once you have built up some strength, then using a tricep bar will help you ensure your training is consistent. This is really important for maintaining progression.

You could also use an EZ curl bar to do tricep extensions as well as lying tricep extensions, otherwise known as ‘skull crushers’ or ‘nose breakers’.

As you become more familiar with using different weight bars for different exercises, you’ll find what works best for you and how you train. After all, there is more than one right answer.

If you would like help or information on any of our products, then just get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. Head over to our Facebook page @MirafitOfficial and send us a message.