Thus Spoke the Barbell
A Definitive Guide and Review of Vulcan Olympic Barbells, Barbell Care, Manufacturing Methods, and Recommendations for Use.
Whip...Is it all just hype?
Perhaps many lifters simply lack the training required to anticipate the whip and use it to their advantage. To create bar whip in such a way that benefits the lifter’s successful execution of a lift is a skill that has to be developed over time.
The amount of whip a bar displays will be majorly influenced by the following factors
How can whip help you lift?
For the clean and jerk, whip can be used in two phases:
No Whip on Mine Please
|Vulcan Elite Powerlifting Barbell loaded with 1200+lbs by WR Bench Presser, Tiny Meeker at his gym in Houston, TX|
Knurling and Knurling Preferences
Barbell Finishes and Their Properties
Here is a list of many barbell finishes and their pros and cons
Black Zinc: Black zinc is simply bright zinc that is covered with a black chromate conversion coating. The black coating is purely aesthetic and wears quickly, Within a few uses of the barbell you will notice the black coating will begin to flake off. Any metal to metal contact will remove it. The black coatings are also very slippery which can be an issue when the palms are sweaty.
Bronze Bushings, Composite Bushings, Needle Bearings, and Other Rotation Systems
Eight (8) bearings can actually take up as much space as Ten (10) bearings, depending on size of the bearings. Bearings are available in different load ratings and widths. Higher load bearings may not spin as easily unloaded and lighter load bearings usually spin much quicker without load, such as spinning with the hand. Once the bar is loaded, there will be no discernible difference in speed of rotation. The higher load rating bearings will last longer and can absorb more impact shock. The reality of weightlifting is that the bar only turns over 180 degrees during a proper lift, and although weightlifting is fast, it's relatively slow as far as revolutions per minute (rpm). Needle bearings are really designed for super high speed applications, meaning thousands of rpm's per minute. Although weightlifting doesn’t push needle bearings to the full capacity of what they are designed to do, utilizing these bearings can still contribute to a successful lift.
Ball Bearings are without a doubt the absolute worst method of rotation for any barbell. If used in a powerlifting barbell, the load of the heavy weight over a short period of time will deform the ball bearings. Once the bearings are deformed the rotation will either be inhibited or completely cease. Ball Bearings or BB's (as in BB gun) within a barbell used for Olympic weightlifting will suffer the same fate, only quicker due to the the dropping of the weights and bar.
IWF and IPF Barbell Specifications
3.1.3 The tolerance on the nominal weight of each component weighing more than 5 kg must be + 0.1% and - 0.05%. On parts weighing 5 kg or less, the tolerance must be +10 grams and - 0 grams per part.
3.1.1 Only barbells meeting IWF specifications and approval may be used in weightlifting competitions under its jurisdiction.
188.8.131.52 i) The bar: The men's bar weighs 20 kg and the women’s bar weighs 15 kg and must meet the specifications on the diagrams in the Annex
3.1.5 Markings on the bars: Weightlifting bars must have coloured identification markings to facilitate their recognition. The men's bar must have blue markings and the women's bar yellow markings. These colours correspond to those of the 20 kg and 15 kg discs.
(a) The bar shall be straight and well knurled and grooved and shall conform to the following dimensions: 1. Total overall length not to exceed 2.2 m. 2. Distance between the collar faces is not to exceed 1.32 m or be less than 1.31 m. 3. Diameter of the bar is not to exceed 29 mm or be less than 28 mm. 4. Weight of the bar and collars are to be 25 kg. 5. Diameter of the sleeve not to exceed 52 mm or be less than 50 mm. 6. There shall be a diameter machined marking or the bar taped so as to measure 81 cm between marking or tape.
The ideal position to store a barbell is in the horizontal position in a rack. Storing or leaving barbells on the floor can lead to premature rusting as moisture will condense on the floor and if in a basement or garage moisture can possibly seep up through the concrete slab. Storing bars in vertical bar holders does save more space. Trouble begins when the barbell is dropped or slammed into the vertical bar holder repeatedly. Barbells are not designed to absorb shock from vertical impact. Even what some may consider a short drop on the end, repeated at each training session or by several people within a gym can lead to irreparable issues such as stuck or jammed bushings or one sleeve failing to rotate as well as the other. If you are going to store a barbell in a vertical position cut some foam or impact absorbent type material and place it in the "socket" of the bar holder. This will cushion any impact and prolong the life of a barbell substantially.
1. Clean your barbell. Pieces of skin, blood, body hair, chalk, sweat, body oils, can all become trapped inside the knurling of a barbell. Coatings tend to wear quicker from exposure to perspiration and body oils more than than anything. Simply using disposable disinfectant wipes on the barbell after your training session will help considerably to maintain the barbells appearance and sanitation.
2. Oiling a Bar. It is not necessary to take a Vulcan barbell apart to oil it. You can simply wipe the shaft of the bar down with WD-40, let it penetrate and wipe off until dry. Vulcan bushing bars are hand assembled using a high viscosity grease that will maintain it's viscosity for many years. Keep chalk away from the opening of the barbell between the shaft and the boss of the barbell. If large deposits of chalk get inside the barbell, it will combine with the grease and create a gritty paste that will cause some issues. Our bearing bars use a lighter proprietary lubricant that will bond to the bearings permanently. There shouldn't be a reason to add additional oil to the internal mechanisms of these bars for many years if ever.
Note: dismantling bearing bars that have press fit bearings is not advised and can result in damage to the bearings to remove the sleeve.
3. Metal to metal friction causes wear. If you use metal change plates, cast iron plates, steel plates, or competition bumper plates that have a gap in the inner ring (two piece disc design), the sleeves of the bar will have indentations and scratches. This is par for the course in gyms or training centers where bars are seeing high use but this appearance may not be desirable to some in other training environments.
We've listed our current barbell line below as well as specifications and our recommendations for use based on our own experience as well as customer feedback.
The Vulcan Absolute Stainless Steel Bearing Bar.
Specifications: Totally stainless steel shaft and sleeve.Olympic bearing bar.
4 German needle bearings per sleeve. Over 240 k verified tensile strength.
Heat treated, aged and straightened stainless steel. Sharp outer knurling and shallow center knurl. IWF specification and markings. Highly reflexive steel (high whip). Very smooth and quick rotation. Lifetime warranty.
- The Vulcan Absolute Bearing Bar is made totally from high grade stainless steel. Recommended for high level weight lifting and athletic training facilities.
The Vulcan Standard Barbell 28.5 mm and 25 mm diameters. 20 kg Barbell and 15 kg weights. Made in USA. 196 k PSI Steel, Bright Zinc plated shaft and sleeve, moderate knurling, dual markings, no center knurl, Oilite bronze bushings, double snap ring construction. Red end cap. Whip on this barbell is "medium - high" . Lifetime warranty
- Multi-use barbell. Can be used for a mix of Powerlifting, Olympic Lifting, and conventional barbell training. These barbells are the favorites of high school and college gyms, CrossFit gyms, as well as Police, Fire and Military units, home gyms and personal training studios.
The Vulcan Standard Weightlifting Training Barbell. 28 mm diameter. 20 kg weight. Made in USA. 196 k Psi Steel, Nickel Chrome Plated Shaft and Bright Zinc Sleeves. Single IWF Marking, No Center Knurl, oil lite bronze bushings. This bar has a slightly more aggressive knurling than the 28.5 mm bar
- Olympic Weightlifting Training Barbell. This is a weightlifting specific bar; as with any barbell, squats, deadlifts and all other movements can be accomplished with this barbell. The knurl is slightly more aggressive so may not be the best choice for high repetition lifting
Vulcan V3.0 Elite Training Barbell. 28 mm diameter. 20 kg weight. 221 k psi steel. Interlocking bronze bushings. Recessed center knurling. IWF Spec and Markings. Thin Dense Chrome Plated shaft. Chrome Plated Grooved Sleeves. Knurling is moderately aggressive.
- This a true weightlifting bar. It can be used for any assistance lifts or even high repetition lifting as the knurling is very tactile but not overly sharp. Many have also reported the bar is great for heavy deadlifts due to the great amount of flex/whip of the chromoly steel shaft. Even with moderate loads this bar will flex. It spins as well loaded as some bearing bars will spin under load.
Vulcan Pro Bearing Olympic Barbells 28 mm and 25 mm diameters. 20 kg and 15 kg weights. 241 k psi steel. 8 needle bearings. Hard Chrome plated sleeves and shaft. Aggressive-Sharp knurling. Recessed center knurling. IWF Markings and Specs.
- This bar has a high amount of whip at heavier loads. the whip is deep and very spring like Around 140 kg. It will surprise a lifter if they are not ready for it. At lower weights the bar has the same amount of whip as the 28 mm standard bar. The spin is the same as the 28 mm Standard Bearing Bar. This is a competition bearing bar.
- This a competition level Olympic barbell. The knurling is fine and sharp. These bars are knurled in small runs so the "blades" are always new and sharp when the knurl is cut. With large production barbells there is more of a variance in the knurling as the tools wear and must be replaced. The whip on the Standard bearing 28 mm bar is classified as "very high". Note: As of this posting, the 25 mm 15 kg Women's version of this barbell is in the final stage of production.
Elite Powerlifting Barbell. Made in USA. 29 mm diameter. 20 kg weight. Oilite Bushings. 196 k psi Steel.Very Aggressive knurling. Dual Markings. 4 Inch Center knurling - Very aggressive. Bright zinc shaft and sleeves
- This a true powerlifting barbell. It has no whip and barely flexes even with 1200 lb loads. The bright zinc coating is ultimately better for this type of bar to prevent rust
- and protect the strength of the steel.
- Vulcan Powerlifting barbells have been tested in actual competition with weights in excess of 1000 lbs. These powerlifting bars have no whip and are highly recommended for powerlifting competition or high level training.
One Basic Bushing Bars & Bearing Training Barbells 28 mm and 25 mm diameters. 20 kg and 15 kg weights. 190 k psi steel. Bronze bushings or 8 needle bearings. Hard Chrome Plated. Dual markings. Moderate knurling
- The bushing versions of these bars are great for home/ garage gym and for those looking for a good bar but can't justify the investment of higher end bar. It's basic and reliable. They are good for a mix of Olympic weightlifting, CrossFit workouts and moderate powerlifting. The bearing versions are great for Beginner Olympic weightlifting. The knurling is great for banging out a lot of repetitions and characterized as light to medium. The spin on these bars is really good and the whip is decent. These bars were available in black zinc but we found that most who were buying these bars were using them in garages, basements, or just not spending a lot of time on maintaining them. The black zinc was not very good and came off quickly. The hard chrome on these bars is a much more durable coating.
Let us know if you have any questions about barbells!
Vulcan Strength Training Systems
*About the Author: Cyrus is a coach and veteran of the US Air Force. He is a USAW Olympic weightlifting coach, kettlebell lifting coach and holds several certifications as a personal trainer and strength & conditioning coach. In his over 20 years of experience in strength and conditioning, he has competed as an athlete, coached athletes to international level competition as well as coaching every day people to a healthier and more fit lifestyle. He is a member of Vulcan Team as the lead of our Product Development Team.
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