You’re ready to buy a barbell.
After doing a little research, you’ve noticed a major difference in price between 1” and 2” barbells. While you want to capture that great value, you also need to make sure your barbell will perform as needed.
The number one concern when it comes to 1” barbells is durability — specifically, how much weight can they hold?
The short answer is that a 1" barbell can hold anywhere from a couple dozen pounds up to several hundred. The wide variance in quality between these barbells is the reason for this huge range in weight capacity.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into this question and outline how to find a 1” barbell that delivers the best combo of value and performance.
Key Differences Between 1” and 2” Barbells
Let’s establish what we mean when we talk about 1” and 2” barbells.
The biggest difference between the two is that the shaft and bar ends are independent pieces on a 2” barbell. These pieces are connected by components called bushings or bearings, which allow the bar ends to rotate while the shaft remains stable:
This rotation can help make olympic-style lifts like the Snatch or Clean & Jerk smoother and more efficient, which is why 2” barbells are also known as “olympic” barbells.
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The barbell ends have a diameter just under 2” and are designed to support weight plates with a two-inch hole.
1” barbells, meanwhile, usually sport a uniform length and do not have rotating bar ends:
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean a 1” barbell can’t be used for olympic-style lifts. They may just not perform quite as well, and you might not be able to drop them from shoulder height or above like you can an olympic barbell.
Here’s a quick rundown of key differences between 1” and 2” barbells:
- 2” barbells feature rotating bar ends, while 1” barbells do not.
- 1” barbells tend to weigh between 3-20 pounds, while 2” barbells tend to weight a uniform 45 pounds.
- 1” barbells usually range between 4 and 7 feet long, while 2” barbells are typically (but not always) 7 feet long.
- 2” barbells almost always have knurling, or textured sections on the bar that allow better grip and traction. While 1” barbells can have this feature, it’s less common.
- 1” barbells must use 1” weight plates, while 2” barbells must use 2” weight plates.
- 2" barbells may have slightly thicker shafts than 1" barbells.
- Both 1” and 2” barbells tend to be made from cast iron or steel, though materials and finishes vary. Generally speaking, the range of materials used to construct 2” barbells are of a higher overall quality than the range of materials used to construct 1” barbells.
- For that reason, 1” barbells typically cannot hold as much weight as 2” barbells.
- 1” barbells tend to be significantly less expensive than 2” barbells, often costing hundreds of dollars less.
It should be noted that 1” barbells are different from both weighted workout bars (which do not allow for loading of weight plates) and plastic training bars (which are basically PVC pipes that weigh virtually nothing and are also not meant to be loaded).
How Much Weight Does Your 1” Barbell Need to Hold?
Let's provide some valuable context before we directly address the weight capacity of different 1” barbells.
Generally, moderate-to-heavy loads are better for enhancing strength, athletic performance, muscle gain, fat loss and general health compared to lighter loads.
The American Council on Exercise recommends the following targets for common training goals (please note one-rep max is the maximum weight you can safely lift for one repetition in a given movement):
- Hypertrophy (building muscle), 67-85% of one-rep max
- Maximum Strength, 85-100% of one-rep max
- Power, 75-90% of one-rep max
While you can still build these attributes with lighter loads to some extent, your training efficiency and overall gains will likely suffer.
Let’s say you’re interested in building muscle in your lower body.
You know from experience your current squat one-rep max is 185 pounds.
Even if we ignore the fact you’ll likely get stronger and need to use heavier weights over time to consistently leverage progressive overload, you’d want a bar that could support at least 67% of your one-rep max. In this case, that’d be about 125 pounds.
Say you want to deadlift, too, and your deadlift max is 225. Suddenly, the bottom end of that muscle-building weight range is up over 150 pounds.
If you want to get the most out of your barbell, we’d recommend buying a bar that gives you the runway to gain strength over time.
The following guidelines can be a good estimate:
- Beginner Lifters: buy a bar that supports 175-200% of your current one-rep maxes
- Intermediate Lifters: buy a bar that supports 125-150% of your current one-rep maxes
- Advanced Lifters: buy a bar that supports 110-125% of your current one-rep maxes
However, if you plan to use your barbell mainly to build muscle endurance or to follow a high-rep program such as BODYPUMP, runway for increased strength may not be as important to you.
The other factor to consider is how many weight plates you own or plan to own — there’s no need to go out and buy a bar that supports over 1,000 pounds if you plan to only have two or three-hundred pounds on hand.
How Much Weight Can a 1” Barbell Hold?
No one wants a barbell that limits them to puny weights or that’s at risk of failing mid-exercise.
Ultimately, the amount of weight a 1” barbell can safely support depends on the exact bar in question.
Since the quality and design of 1” barbells can vary wildly from one model to the next, the range of supported weights is quite broad.
Let’s dig into some specific examples. All the following numbers were taken from product pages on Amazon or Walmart.com.
- Step Fitness Club Quality 4-Weight Deluxe Barbell Set: The 1” barbell is 4.5 feet long and weighs 5 pounds. The manufacturer recommends a maximum weight capacity of 120 pounds.
- PITHAGE Barbell Set with Adjustable Weights: The 1” barbell is 4.8 feet long and weighs approximately 6 pounds. The manufacturer recommends a maximum weight capacity of 45 pounds.
- Weider 6’ Standard Barbell: The 1" barbell is 6 feet long and weighs 15 pounds. The manufacturer recommends a maximum weight capacity of 160 pounds.
- CAP 72-Inch Solid Threaded Standard Barbell: The 1" barbell is 6 feet long and weighs 13 pounds. The manufacturer recommends a maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds.
Even from this small sample size, we can infer some important characteristics about 1” barbells and associated weight capacities:
- Heavier 1” barbells tend to have higher weight capacities than lighter 1” barbells, likely because they’re made with superior materials.
- Shorter 1” barbells (especially ones under five feet) often cannot support as much weight as longer 1” barbells.
- Be wary of 1” barbells that cannot be purchased as a standalone item but rather are only available as part of a bundle — this often indicates an inherent lack of quality.
- 1” barbells with lower weight capacities tend to be cheaper than bars with higher weight capacities.
1” Barbells can hold anywhere from a couple dozen pounds to several hundred.
If you feel the above barbells fall short of your performance standards, you’re not alone. Luckily, there's a solution.
The Issue with Most 1” Barbells
The biggest problem with 1” barbells is the significant gap in quality and weight capacity between them and their 2” counterparts.
On one end, you have luxury 2” bars like the Rogue Ohio Bar 2.0S. A tensile strength of 190,000 PSI helps it support far more weight than 99.9% of humans will ever lift. It also costs nearly $400, which is far more than most people want to spend on a bar.
RELATED: Why are Some Barbells So Expensive?
Yet many 1” barbells are flimsily constructed and incapable of supporting significant loads. Even beginners can quickly exceed the maximum weight capacity on some of these inferior products.
These models may be dirt cheap, but if they don’t offer utility, what’s the point?
While 1” barbell options like the CAP 72-inch Solid Threaded Standard Barbell support a respectable 250 pounds, the price point of nearly $90 can be hard to swallow.
How to Find the Perfect 1" Barbell
This chasm in quality and performance between 1” and 2” barbells can be super frustrating — particularly for hard-working people who take fitness seriously but can’t afford to break the bank on a bar.
That's exactly who we had in mind when we decided to create the HulkFit 1” Barbell.
This premium 1” barbell supports up to 350 pounds and is available in both five and seven feet versions to accommodate lifters and gyms of all sizes.
Multiple knurling positions ensure strong, secure grips for any lift, from Bent-Over Rows to Push Presses. Take your choice between a polished chrome or sleek black color-way with the confidence this bar will be with you for years to come.
The 7-foot version of the HulkFit 1” Barbell is just $45.99, while the 5-foot version sells for $39.99. HulkFit also offers a wide array of affordable 1” weight plates and high-quality racks/stands so you can crush any barbell workout.
350 pounds still not quite enough for you? The HulkFit 2” Olympic Barbell starts at just $99.99 and supports a whopping 700 pounds.