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A Beginner's Guide to Barbells: What You Need to Know

Barbells are a staple in any gym, but it’s easy for beginners to feel overwhelmed when starting out. Typically associated with fitness fanatics who are serious about bodybuilding, barbells can seem like the ultimate challenge when you don’t understand them.

This beginner’s guide will help you to feel more familiar with the different types of barbells, giving you the confidence to take the plunge and transform your strength training routine. We’ll explain which barbells are the best to get started with so you can make the right decision for your needs.

What are Barbells?

A type of long bar with weights at either end, barbells are designed to be lifted with two hands and can be used in a variety of positions. Suitable for squats, chest presses and deadlifts, barbells help you to build muscle in a very efficient way. While many people choose to vary their strength training routine, integrating barbells into yours can help you to see results more quickly.

BLK BOX Barbells

Who Should Use Barbells?

Barbells are suitable for everyone, even beginners. You don’t have to be fitness-obsessed to get started, but you do have to be fully confident in your form. As barbells come in different weights and sizes, you’ll be able to start with a smaller, lighter model if that suits your needs better. But if you can’t lift the barbell correctly, it’s a recipe for injury. Practice movements using dumbbells before moving onto heavier weights. If you’re ever unsure, ask a trainer or expert to show you how to perform movements correctly.

Different Types of Barbells

Once you’ve decided that you’re ready to try lifting, you’ll need to know all about the different types of barbells so you can pick the one that’s right for you. We’ll cover bars suitable for beginners as well as those for more experienced lifters, making sure there’s something for everyone, no matter where you are in your fitness journey.

Standard or Technique Bar

Made with the complete beginner in mind, standard or technique bars are the best place to start for those looking to hone their movements and form. Whatever your fitness goals, barbells like the BLK BOX Technique Bar offer versatility and value for money.

Technique Bar

This BLK BOX model is made with IPF and IWF knurl marks, which allow you to develop both powerlifting and weightlifting techniques in a more accessible way. Fitted with an anodised aluminium shaft, the bar is durable and resistant to corrosion while offering an impressive amount of grip through its sectional knurled handle. The bar has a maximum capacity of 80kg, which is more than enough for most beginners.

Once beginners feel confident in their ability to comfortably lift their technique bar, they’ll be able to move onto different types of barbells that suit more targeted training routines.

Olympic Barbell

A great all-rounder, the Olympic barbell can be used by beginners and professional athletes alike. Not only is this type of barbell a standard across gyms, but it also comes in different varieties to suit the user. Beginners should bear in mind both the size and weight of the barbell they choose. Barbells with smaller diameters can be easier to grip for those just starting out, while women can consider a shorter barbell designed especially for them.

Olympic bars are best for people looking to master the ‘snatch’ and the ‘clean and jerk’, which are special movements associated with Olympic weightlifting. The barbells are designed to accommodate these techniques better than standard bars with their wider diameter. This means the barbell will roll more easily for improved grip throughout the entire move. Unlike power barbells that offer minimal whip, Olympic barbells need to have enough whip for safer lifting.

The BLK BOX Utility Bar is designed to be the perfect entry-level bar for Olympic style lifting. It offers excellent versatility and pairs well with benching, deadlifts and squats. Whether you’re looking to perform powerlifting or weightlifting moves, the utility bar will serve you well.

For anyone in search of a more premium piece of kit, the BLK BOX Belfast Bar is an Olympic barbell engineered for athletes. Delivering top-quality performance, the bar features a black hardened chrome shaft, peaked diamond knurls and chrome sleeves for the best possible grip and spin.

Olympic Barbell

Power Barbell

Designed specifically for powerlifting, power barbells are well-equipped to cope with heavier loads. They’re carefully engineered to offer users very little whip for a smoother, safer lift. What’s more, power barbells are typically made with superior knurling to allow for a more secure grip. This helps you to perform low-bar squats and deadlifts more effectively.

Even if you are a beginner interested in powerlifting, it’s best to start with weightlifting before you progress onto the heavier loads. As mentioned before, perfecting your form is far more important at the start than pushing your body to its limits.

If you’ve been lifting for a while and want to take your workout to the next level, the BLK BOX Power Barbell meets all powerlifting specifications. Offering a deep knurl and a central knurl, the bar can be used for both squats and serious powerlifting.

Hex Bar

A specialised piece of equipment for anyone who is looking to focus on deadlifts, hex bars have a unique shape for an easier grip. They allow the user to stand inside the middle of the bar and hold onto the handles laterally, which creates a more natural position for their hands.

Hex Bar

The BLK BOX Hex Bar can be used by both beginners and athletes, but users should know that this type of bar has a more limited purpose. If you’re starting out and not sure what kind of lifts you’ll be interested in, it might be better to look into different types of barbells that are more versatile.

Safety Squat Bar

Similarly to the Hex Bar, the BLK BOX Safety Squat Bar has a very specific application. Designed for safer lifts with heavy loads, the barbell offers users a more stabilised squat. It features padded arms and shoulder pads for added comfort even when increasing the bar’s weight. What’s more, you’ll benefit from less pressure on your wrists.

Safety squat Bar

Which Barbell is Right for Me?

To sum up, out of the different types of barbells available, the best two for beginners are the Technique Bar or the Utility Bar. For those feeling more confident, you can progress onto a Belfast Bar or even a Power Barbell if you’ve been lifting weights for a while.

Make sure you browse the full BLK BOX barbell range before making a decision.


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