CrossFit West Santa Cruz certainly has a love affair with the barbell. We sprint (400m record is 1:04), we do gymnastics (pullup record is 61), we row (500m record is 1:23), but the day really isn’t complete unless some weight, the more the better, has been piled on a barbell.
But how much do you really know about barbells? Prior to the 1960s, weight lifting meant Olympic weightlifting. Olympic weightlifting originally had 6 lifts. The clean and press, clean and jerk, and the snatch. These lifts were divided into one and two hand lifts. This is the reason there is the center knurling on a lot of Olympic style bars. For a while, center knurling wasn’t seen on Olympic bars as it often chaffed the throat, but recently center knurling has been made mandatory in international competition bars. First the 1 hand lifts (in the 30s) and then the clean and press (the early 70s) were dropped from competition, leaving just the clean and jerk and the snatch.
In the 50s, odd lift challenges became more popular and were organized around the deadlift, squat, and the bench press, and came to be called powerlifting.
The bars used in the two styles of lifting are distinctly different. Olympic bars are primarily concerned with the smoothness of the collar spin and the springiness of the steel. A good lifter can catch the bar at the bottom of the squat and ride the spring on either end of the bar up. Because the bar needs to move in the hands, an Olympic bar needs to have knurling that is not overly aggressive. An Olympic bar is usually 28mm in diameter.
Tomorrow we will look at powerlifting bars.
What do you look for in a good Olympic bar? Which ones are your favorites? Please post to Comments.