Best Cheap Barbells

The barbell you buy will determine how your workouts feel – the best cheap barbells bring maximum comfort and performance, saving you the pain of bad workouts and a disgusting price!

The best cheap barbells on the market do everything the expensive ones do, but without costing you a ridiculous price.

If you’re building a home gym, you need a barbell, and these are some of the best options around to make the most of your hard-earned cash.

Standard vs Olympic Barbells: Why You Need 2 Inches

The Olympic barbell design is the standard for home gyms, because they’re high quality pieces of equipment, fit most plates out there, and are compatible with both bumper plates and iron weight plates.

Olympic barbells are also designed within a regulated and normal standard barbell design: 8 feet long, 2-inch diameter on the grip, and designed to flex and resist at high forces to keep them strong and healthy for longer than an inflexible, ‘standard barbell’.

These typically use a stainless steel shaft for better durability and weight capacity.Standard barbells is a term used for 1″ shafted barbells, but they come with a much wider set of designs and are typically lower quality.

Best Cheap Barbells

A standard barbell is also not designed to work with the rubber weight plates required for Olympic weightlifting – and this makes them far less valuable for Weightlifting and CrossFit, which both use bumper plates for home gyms.

These both come in various types of quality, and Olympic barbells are not always Olympic weightlifting barbell designs – with it referring to dimensions, not intention (i.e. what you’re going to do with it).

Types of Barbell: Power bar, Weightlifting bar, or “Multipurpose budget barbell”?

There are some excellent multipurpose budget barbells on the market, or you can specialize based on your goals. The more specific you are to your own needs, the more value you’ll get from cheap barbells, especially.

Power bars are a good strength training barbell that you can use for powerlifting and other forms of basic barbell weight training. They’re relatively stiff, but offer excellent durability and build quality barbell design with less whip – and typically better quality for any price compared to a weightlifting bar.

Weightlifting bars are designed for the Olympic lifts. An Olympic barbell with a focus on good flex under weight, excellent spin in the cuffs, and great weight capacity. They also come with a center knurling to improve grip during the clean and jerk.

What makes the Best Cheap Barbells so Good?

The best budget barbells are high-quality at low price – they offer the key features with food design, but with economy of design or materials. Simply put: they don’t compromise on the build quality or design, to bring prices down.

As you might imagine, this is difficult to do – and it’s why a high quality cheap barbell is so rare. Olympic barbells have a lot of moving parts, they require high tensile strength, and they need to be rated for heavy weightlifting.

A weightlifting bar, even more so, is an all purpose piece of gym equipment that has to be useful for a decade or more under regular, heavy loading and the impact against plate rims, the floor, or the rack. This means durability and build quality are put to the test, even if you’re careful.

Design

The overall design of a barbell – the way that the features are put together into a whole – is key. Better products are just good at what they d0 – and that means hitting the right build quality and features for cheap barbells.

This is key to get the most out of your barbell: weightlifting bar design needs to make Olympic lifting better. Power bars need to be well built for powerlifting.

When you’re bringing down the budget, smart design where all the features align characterizes the best budget barbells. It’s the high-level stuff that we see first in any product.

Build Quality and Materials

While chap barbells may be defined by a lower budget, you still want to get the best build quality and materials for your cheap barbells. They’re still key, and many great home gym equipment brands still use amazing bare steel, high tensile strength bars with a good weight capacity and excellent basic builds.

A loaded bar needs to be strong enough for a big weight capacity, and that means a good steel bar, with great cuffs, and a balance of flex and rigidity. Cheaper bars need extra attention here because the opposite is true: some cheap barbells scrimp on the materials, and it leads to a real issue.

The best affordable barbells are just good barbells. It’s about getting the best benefit and training experience, which starts with good materials.

Spin

Whether you’re looking for the best budget powerlifting barbell, or an Olympic barbell for your home gym, spin is important.

Power bars – like the rogue Ohio power bar – need less spin, since they’re designed for squat, bench press, and deadlift. Weightlifting bars, on the other hand, need more spin to account for how dynamic snatches and clean and jerks are.

You need a little spin no matter what, and more for olympic weightlifting. Both of these need to be smooth, with no “rattling” – and this comes from the bearings. Needle bearings are the best, with the smoothest and most durable spin, but ball bearings are more common on affordable barbells.

Check the spin – or at least the reviews and demos of the spin – for any barbell!

Flex and whip

How much do you want your barbell to flex when loaded?

The flex and whip refer to how much movement you see in the shaft of the barbell. This is one way that power bars distinguish themselves (with very little whip or flex) and Olympic weightlifting bars have much more.

Your standard multipurpose budget barbell will sit somewhere between the two. This can be a noticeable difference for the elite powerlifter – lifting weights that stress a rigid steel bar to flexing. Others – like the deadlift bars – do this on purpose to make lifting weights easier!

Cheap barbells will flex at lower weights, with options like the rep basic barbell and rogue echo bar starting to whip at 200kg+. This small amount of whip is usually fine, unless you’re incredibly strong, or you’re not familiar with whip.

In either case, take time to get used to it and make sure to buy a bar with whip that is suitable to your goals and weights.

Knurling, Center Knurling, and Grip

Knurling is the grip on a barbell – where grooves are cut into the bare steel to improve the friction against the hand. Weightlifting bars also have a center knurling, which grips at the skin to keep the barbell in contact with the body.

You also need to consider how sharp – or aggressive – this knurling is. This refers to how sharp the knurling is and how much friction it will produce against the skin. This refers to the grip-assistance a barbell provides, but also how much damage it can do to the skin of the hands.

Do you want aggressive knurling?

Most people do not want aggressive knurling – as grip development is an important part of normal strength training. Aggressive knurling is one way to get better grip on a barbell but should be saved for Olympic weightlifting where the dynamism challenges the grip.

These are great benefits for an Olympic barbell, but too much for most uses. It will typically be too much for regular powerlifting training, where it’s not required. Get a middle to aggressive knurling at most!

Do you need center knurling?

No – you don’t need a center knurling. It can be useful for Olympic weightlifting, but isn’t required, except for competition barbells. A center knurling can be a significant bonus for weightlifting, but does typically come at a premium on aggressive knurling bars!

Worth avoiding if it’s an extra cost, but a good addition to some cheap barbells!

Cuffs, sleeves, and the other barbell miscellany

The moving parts of a barbell – the cuffs or sleeves – are an important place to spend any extra cash. These are the areas that are most stressed through use, and are typically the first area to break through wear and tear.

High quality barbells use a stainless steel shaft with well designed and finished cuffs. These are the areas that contact the weight plates and see most damage. This is why the finish is important, and barbell manufacturers typically avoid bare steel – which can scuff.

The bearings in these cuffs also matter, where they maintain barbell integrity and prevent damage on the shaft-contacts. The internal build of these barbells really matter and the best value budget barbells spend big on moving parts to get the best results for the longest life.

Bearings: needle bearings or ball bearings?

Needle bearings are better than ball bearings, but also more expensive. Needle bearings produce a better spin, with a smoother action, and a longer life. Some products, like Eleiko weightlifting bars, even use self-lubricating needle bearings.

Look for bronze bushings and any hybrid designs that use both ball and needle bearings – it’s just a step towards premium barbell design. These are still a little more expensive, but are common on a high quality barbell at any price.

Best Budget Olympic Barbell Options

The best budget barbell options on the market split into 3 main categories:

  1. All-purpose budget barbell
  2. Best budget power bar
  3. Best budget barbell for Olympic lifting

So let’s look at our favorites and what to look for in each of these categories. We’ll see a few of the first, so let’s get started with one of the most popular cheap barbells on the market…

Best Affordable Multipurpose Barbell

Rep Fitness Basic Barbell

The Rep fitness basic barbell is exactly what it says – a good entry into the market that offers a multipurpose budget barbell for a great price. This is one of the most affordable budget barbells – and can be a good centerpiece for a cheap weight training setup – with a squat rack and a weight bench.

This bar doesn’t have the best spin, it’s not the smoothest mover, and the build quality isn’t the best thing you’ve ever seen. However, for the cost, it’s a solid barbell with center knurling, dual knurl marks for bench press grip, and bronze bushings. It;s zinc coated for better longevity, with a medium knurling.

Rep Fitness offer a 700lbs weight capacity, which is going to cause serious whip, but it’s a good rating for a barbell so cheap. If you’re just getting started with a home gym, this is a great cheap multipurpose bar for weight training – and will serve you just fine!

Bar type: Multipurpose barbell

Weight capacity: 700lbs

Tensile strength: 100,000PSI

Bar diameter: 30mm

Bearings: Bushings

Knurling: Medium

Best Cheap Barbells
  • Great value with a very low price tag
  • Good weight capacity for the cost
  • Solid barbell for beginners building a low-budget home gym
  • Lower weight rating than many alternatives
  • Doesn’t offer the quality of more expensive barbells
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Best Cheap Olympic Barbell

Rogue Echo Bar 2.0

The Rogue Echo Bar 2.0 is a great all-purpose barbell. It’s a hybrid or multi-purpose bar with a great set of fundamentals for any home gym equipment purchase. It’s also from Rogue, which means you know you’re in good hands – and get excellent customer service and shipping.

This bar has no center knurling, which is okay because the knurling is quite sticky by default. This is a problem for super heavy squatting, but we’ve not seen any issues up to – and including – 250kg on bars without center knurling.

Not only that, but this competes with some cheap Olympic bars, with good whip and spacing. It has all the important markings for bench press, a stainless steel shaft, which is a massive bonus. This stainless steel construction produces the high tensile strength and the excellent whip, while keeping weight capacity high.

This makes the Rogue Echo Bar 2.0 a fantastic hybrid bar – despite costing less than competitors like the Rep Gladiator bar or the Rogue Ohio bar. It’s a great mid-ground for the average home gym owner.

Bar type: Multipurpose barbell

Weight capacity: 1,600lbs

Tensile strength: 190,000PSI

Bar diameter: 28.5mm

Bearings: Bushings

Knurling: Medium-soft

Best Cheap Barbells
  • Excellent construction with a stainless steel shaft
  • Strong bearings with good moving parts
  • Excellent whip and flex for Olympic lifts – comparable to a cheap Olympic bar
  • Costs less than the Rogue Ohio bar or other specialist bars despite good performance
  • Not as effective in special uses as the Rogue Ohio power bar or the Rep gladiator
  • More expensive than a cheaper hybrid bar (even if it justifies it)
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Best Cheap Barbell for Olympic Lifts

Rep Fitness Gladiator Bar

This is one of the best budget barbells on the market. It’s more expensive than the rep basic barbell, but offers a more premium experience and is far better suited for the Olympic lifts, out-performing many other barbells at the price point.

This is a great piece of equipment for a home gym, where it suits all lifting styles. It’s specifically good for Olympic weightlifting, but performs fine for powerlifting and general gym use, with a high tensile strength, medium aggressive knurling, and an excellent weight capacity.

This bar does have a lot more whip and flex than other types of barbell, but offers perfect balance for the Olympic lifts! It’s a great choice for the home gym that wants to do everything, and is one of the best choices on the market for CrossFit – since it can do anything.

The bar diameter is a standard 28mm, which you’d expect from any Olympic barbell. It’s cheap but it’s a solid Olympic bar for the price with needle bearings, offering the best and most reliable spin quality.

It has dual knurl marks – standard for Olympic barbell use – and is probably the best value budget barbell on our list for Olympic lifts. Even better than the Rogue echo bar, easily contending for the best cheap Olympic barbell at the price point.

Bar type: Budget Olympic barbell

Weight capacity: 1,500lbs

Tensile strength: 205,000PSI

Bar diameter: 28mm

Bearings: Needle bearings

Knurling: Medium

Best Cheap Barbells
  • Excellent value for money with good features for the cost
  • Needle bearings – making it the best spin of any bar on our list!
  • Among the best cheap Olympic barbells for Olymipc lifts and strength training
  • Costs more than some options
  • Not as polished as more expensive premium Olympic bars (like Eleiko or Rogue’s mid-level bars)
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Best Beginner Barbell

Fringe Sport Wonder Bar

The Wonder bar is an excellent multipurpose budget barbell and provides a stunning amount of value for the cost. It’s a well-built and reliable bar that comes with a good weight capacity – at a price between the rep fitness basic bar and the Rogue Ohio power bar.

As a hybrid bar, it’s not the best for Olympic lifts, and it doesn’t have the weight capacity of a power bar. However, it’s still a great all-rounder for strength training, with the spin and flex required to perform Olympic lifting and Powerlifting movements.

We love this bar for how much it lets you do at a good price. It’s not a power bar or Olympic bar (in the weightlifting sense) but it’s good enough at both. It’s a great budget barbell with a good finish that will last for years, moving parts you can depend on, and a perfect balance of value and features for the home gym crowd!

This bar also has a ridiculous 1,600lbs weight capacity, which is definitely enough!

Best Cheap Barbells
  • Great multipurpose option for general strength training
  • Works well enough for powerlifting and weightlifting alike
  • Excellent price point for beginners
  • Doesn’t specialise in anything
  • Doesn’t out-perform niche barbells like the Ohio Power bar or Rep Gladiator
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Best Barbell on the Market

Rogue Ohio Power Bar

The Rogue Ohio power bar is as classic power bar for a great price and has a reputation as one of the best purchases you can make for a home gym. If you’re not into Olympic weightlifting, then this is one of the best balances of value for such a high quality barbell.

When talking about the benefit-per-dollar, this is clearly one of the best budget barbells on the market. It’s a stiff bar, using a high quality steel shaft, with zinc finishing and a good total design for all kinds of strength training. The knurling is perfect for home gym use, with a mid-depth and solid total build.

The cuffs are smooth, but not too spinny, and offer some great longevity for the price. These make them a fantastic home gym investment, since they’re going to last forever and offer better durability than a bare steel bar. This means great moving parts.

This bar still uses bushings – ball bearings – but also provides an excellent tensile strength of 205,000PSI without too much whip. This is great for powerlifting, with a stiffer bar and thicker bar diameter of 29mm.

Bar type: Multipurpose barbell (power bar)

Weight capacity: [not stated]

Tensile strength: 205,000PSI

Bar diameter: 29mm

Bearings: Bushings

Knurling: Medium-aggressive

Best Cheap Barbells
  • Strongest and most reliable construction on this list
  • Excellent competitor with deadlift bars and other power bar designs
  • Excellent weight capacity and tensile strength
  • Desgined with big weights in mind – so no worry about over-loading or degrading
  • Rogue fitness are a reputable brand with a great customer service and shipping policy
  • Expensive for a bar that uses ball bearings
  • Quite specialist: not good for Olympic lifts or CrossFit training
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Great Beginner Barbell

Vulcan One Basic Olympic Barbell

Vulcan One is one of the best budget Olympic barbells, compromising some of the more expensive features to get a better bar at a better price. It’s a bushing bar, which produces a slightly less-smooth spin on the cuffs, but offers great build and design elsewhere.

This is reminiscent of the Rogue echo bar, but with a lower price. It has a less aggressive knurling for regular use, with a great finish for the price and a hard-wearing zinc oxide finish. This is a competitor with the Rep basic barbell, and other barbells at the price point.

It’s a good total package with dual knurl marks, and one of the best multipurpose budget barbell options around. If you’re strapped for cash but you need the core functions of a multipurpose bar, this is a great choice for all lifting styles.

Bar type: Multipurpose barbell / CrossFit

Weight capacity: [not stated – flexes severely at 500lbs]

Tensile strength: 196,000PSI

Bar diameter: 28mm

Bearings: Bushings

Knurling: Medium

Best Cheap Barbells
  • A good compromise between price and quality
  • Suitable for anything you might want to do – if not the best budget barbell for your goals
  • Very affordable for non-specialists who just need access to weight training on Olympic plates
  • Not excellent at any individual task or training style
  • Usually worth spending more on bars and less on olympic plates
  • Doesn’t outperform some other excellent, cheap barbells
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Conclusion

There are some excellent budget barbell options for your home gym. If you get the best products, you’ll have a fantastic commercial level experience – or better – in your home gym.

We love the Rogue ohio power bar and the Rep fitness Gladiator bar the best. The rogue Ohio power bar is the best choice for general strength training but the Rep fitness barbell is a powerful cheap Olympic barbell (as in, specifically for Olympic lifts).

If you want an all-purpose bar, then our recommendation is the Rogue Echo bar 2.0 – it’s just good at everything, at a good price.

These are the best because of the quality, the design, the features, and the lifespan they offer. These offer the best training for the longest time, provide the best value for money, and the best budget barbells on the market!

Daniel Louwrens CPT

Hi there! My name is Daniel Louwrens, and I have more than 10 years of experience in the bodybuilding & fitness world. I have graduated with a degree in Chemistry, and my aim with helping people is to educate people who have questions about anything and everything fitness: Training, Nutrition, Recovery, and PED's.

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