I love barbells.
Maybe that’s because I see them for what they are – Highly evolved tools for the continual refinement of flesh, bone, and spirit. With that, I take the opportunity to comment on a new design pretty seriously. It’s an honor, really.
I’ll start by saying that the fake stuff is really easy to spot. Chromed-out globo gym bars and knock-offs are OK for some things, I guess, but they bend the second they hit the pins or ground. The knurling smashes and folds under thumb. That’s do for impulsive, mouth-breathing Sports Authority customers, but real lifters need real steel.
Sushi Masters like Mr. Jiro aren’t slicing slabs of bright red tuna with cheap Ginzu knives, I don’t care what kind of deal you can get on them in bulk. It doesn’t matter that they cut “just fine.” They will never slice like the real thing, and that matters a lot. Once you’ve felt that difference you will notice the knock-offs immediately.
A proper barbell is one that is crafted with purpose and intent by experienced hands. That’s something you feel as soon as you touch the knurling to train. These barbells feel like they are more than the sum of their parts. In comparison, a cheap bar will feel porous and fragile, hollow. That embedded purpose also means that the real thing will last a lifetime or two, even under the heaviest of loading conditions.
Crossfit, weightlifting, powerlifting, it hardly matters, real steel will stand up to just about anything. Yes, you need a better barbell. They are worth every penny. Once you feel the difference in training you’ll understand.
The real stuff stands out.
The good folks at Again Faster spoiled me recently by shipping their new toy over to DAILY HQ. By now you should know the story.
The AF team has spent some time working closely with Dmitry Klokov, one of the worlds premier lifters, to develop an affordable barbell that meets the highest standards construction and performance. That’s what they told me anyway. I love Dmitry, especially after having podcaster with the guy. He’s the real deal. But still, I’ve lifted with a lot of budget barbells. Most of them are fine, they are just nothing to be proud of, or pass down.
If all you’re looking for is a one line summary, I’ll give it to you. For the dough, I don’t think you’re going to find a better barbell on the market.
Feel and function
The very first thing I noticed was the feel. The barbell is a standard 20 kg, but feels incredibly dense and hard in the hand. The knurling isn’t rough or smooth, but maybe right in between that of Eleiko or Werksan bars. In other words, you might consider it just about ideal.
I don’t know if the metal is exactly identical to premier brands. It’s certainly not polished to the same shine. But this bar does offer the same feeling in hand. They are plenty of differences, but I don’t think many lifters will ever notice. You should also take a listen in the gym. Cheap barbells rattle, clang and cry under strain. They give themselves away. For what it’s worth, the Klokov barbell sounds beautiful and strong when it hits the ground, like the best bars.
It’s a very distinct sound that many Barbell Shrugged fans will find very familiar.
Listen to the sound your barbell makes when it lands. Does it cry, or does it growl? Sound of quality friends. @alexqmaclin A video posted by Chris Moore (@barbellbuddha) on
I wasn’t sure how the barbell would actually perform under load. See, it’s not exactly a weightlifting bar. It’s also made with powerlifting standards in mind. They tell me the strength is 264,000 PSI, which I take to mean that it’s strong enough for anyone. But I anticipated that the bar would feel much too stiff. I was worried that the difference in manufacturing cost between this bar and other premier bars would certainly manifest in the whip. Not so.
After some cleans and heavy squats, there doesn’t appear to be a noticeable difference in the behavior of this barbell. As you pile on the load the whip remains steady and smooth, which is really nice. The focus on strength appears worthwhile and not overdone.
We talked strength, feel and function. But we cannot skip the bearing talk. One of the big selling points of nice barbells is the needle bearing enabled spin of the collar. That’s something you can immediately feel during snatches, clean and jerks. It’s nice, I won’t lie. But it’s not great for everything.
For pressing, I personally prefer a standard bushing style bearing in the collar. That’s all you need in a powerlifting bar. The last thing I want during a heavy bench press, for example, is a “whippy,” spinning barbell. For me it is harder to squeeze and stretch that barbell through lockout. But I didn’t notice that effect with this bar. Maybe that’s got to do with the combination bearings in the collar, both needle and bushing.
Alex had a great time clean and squatting with the bar. Spin wasn’t an issue. Likewise, I found it to be just about perfect.
A video posted by Chris Moore (@barbellbuddha) on
I will be honest, there wasn’t much we didn’t love about the barbell. We had a blast training with it.
The only think we found ourselves wanting was a less aggressive center knurling. This is the sort of trade-off you have to expect when you get a multi-purpose barbell.
Sharp knurling is great for big squats, but if you clean enough with this barbell you will feel the burn a time or two on your neck. I think it’s a reasonable trade-off for now. Everything else about the bar more than makes up for it.
You need to get yourself the ver best barbell you can afford. They are worth every penny, no question. If you can get the best, get the best. Why not? Just know that it’s not essential.
For the money, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better barbell than this one. Well done, Dmitry and Team. I think you’ve done it.