Whether you're new to lifting or an experienced athlete, sometimes you'll run across a term you've never heard before. That's why we've put together the Barbell Dictionary, featuring all the terms you'll hear when shopping for and using a barbell.

Mesa Technique - Lifestyle - 166-Edit.jpg__PID:d5879000-6df1-44a5-896a-fd9c0e2865c6

Straight Barbell

A long, metal bar that is straight. It’s typically 20kg/45lbs, 4-7' long, has some kind of knurling on the shaft to help with grip, knurl marks to help with hand placement, and slightly thicker sleeves, where you load the weight plates.

Open Trap Bar - Lifestyle - 150-Edit.jpg__PID:438f52aa-c19f-45db-b24f-d9cd77c68c35

Specialty barbell

A barbell with specific features for different functions or fitness goals. This is a tool typically only used to select exercises, whereas a straight barbell is extremely versatile.

Black Canyon  - Lifestyle Product Gym - 138-Edit.jpg__PID:d0812dc0-7f0e-442b-b0ce-525188de2e38


The main part of the barbell that you grip onto. Shafts can be different diameters and have varying knurling and markings.

Delta - feature - sleeve lifestyle slider.jpg__PID:9624ff40-fa8e-431b-84ef-4ddb7cbb2904


The ends of a barbell where you load the weights. Sleeves may rotate or not.

Teton - Feature - end cap slider.jpg__PID:9e694a82-0958-4eb2-97b9-6b4c3e6d43d9


The type of sleeve on a barbell (smooth or ribbed).

Teton  - Lifestyle Product Gym - 403-Edit.jpg__PID:e2ecea3b-2d0d-4eb0-ae49-ca7b9e3120b9


Bearings are typically used for faster sleeve turnover. Bearings essentially roll around the sleeve. There are different types of bearings. Read about them here.

Delta - feature - bushing .jpg__PID:ef1e2cf6-4e41-4d6e-b36d-1b025ac1fbb8


A bushing is a metal sleeve with no moving parts inside. Think of it as one solid piece. Whereas bearing sleeves have inner workings to them, the bushing is typically pressed into the sleeve, and it’s the bushing surface itself that rotates around the shaft. There is friction between the surface of the bushing and the surface of the shaft, so it doesn’t rotate as freely as a bearing. There are different kinds of bushings. Read about them here.



A combination of different sleeve constructions. For example, you can combine both ball bearings and bushings, or needle and inner race needles.



Small, smooth marks in the knurling on a barbell to help lifters set up properly for the lift and provide a visual for even hand placement on the barbell. Read about them here.

Delta  - Lifestyle Product People - 18-Edit.jpg__PID:e455f0e3-b548-42ee-8a7a-183f706c535c


A patch of knurling in the center of a barbell used to help the barbell stick on your back during back squats. Read about it here.



There are three types of knurl styles: hill, volcano, and mountain. Hill-style knurling is the most passive and won’t dig into your hands. It is good for training bars. Mountain is the most aggressive knurl style. You’ll see this style with powerlifting barbells to provide the best grip for your one-rep maxes. The most common knurl style you’ll see on a lot of REP’s weightlifting and mixed-use bars is volcano. Volcano knurling has a good amount of grip without tearing up your hands. Read about it here.

2022.11 - Hades & Helios - 290-Edit.jpg__PID:ad5496ce-aedb-458f-8a78-5e629940cf75


The bend or oscillation in a barbell that occurs when the bar changes direction quickly, more noticeable when the load is heavy. Whip can create momentum in a lift.

Alpine - Lifestyle - 107-Edit.jpg__PID:afc1cb63-5fdb-4904-b00f-36b07fc293b6


The rotation of the sleeves on a barbell that can reduce the centrifugal force of the plates rotating on the bar during a lift. Some lifts, like Olympic weightlifting lifts, benefit from a smoother, quicker spin.

Delta  - Lifestyle Product People - 187-Edit.jpg__PID:378e62a0-853e-47f2-bc6b-12b3dcd60825


In lifting, the tensile strength is the breaking point of a barbell. It’s rated in pounds per square inch (PSI). A higher PSI is stronger.

Teton  - Lifestyle Product Gym - 24.jpg__PID:09746002-e686-4dc1-880c-c1c81e0fdb07


The maximum amount of weight a piece of equipment can safely withstand.

Colorado - Lifestyle - 342-Edit.jpg__PID:bbdba81b-94f0-42e4-aca0-446342759f65


The measurement of accuracy of a weight. The lower the tolerance, the more accurate the actual weight is to the stated weight.

Barbell - Colorado 20KG - gym Lifestyle383-Edit.jpg__PID:1b8879ff-75cf-45fc-b782-691b9557086d


The finish that covers a barbell that can enhance its durability, reduce rust and scratches, improve feel, and add style/aesthetics. There are a variety of different barbell finishes. Read about them here.

2022.11 - Hades & Helios - 177-Edit.jpg__PID:4136c35f-8c00-4cd9-9f80-9cc692a90436


A highly durable barbell finish. Instead of applying a thin coating on top of the steel, the steel is treated through a multi-stage, chemical process that improves both the steel’s wear resistance and corrosion resistance. The process hardens the outside of the steel, making it extra tough. It leaves a nice, smooth, matte black finish after it’s polished.

BB-4310 - Lifestyle People - Aimee - 26.jpg__PID:56edb903-8b72-4fe3-8fa8-644e5d8d7981


The curve or bend in the bar that offsets the weight, creating an unstable, pendulum effect.