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A standard barbell looks, feels and weighs different than an Olympic barbell.
At first glance, barbells appear the same. They are long, steel poles that you slide weight plates onto for your workouts. At second glance, you begin to notice the slight differences between the two main types of barbells: Olympic and standard. When you find yourself using a standard barbell, you need to know how to identify it and the weight limit so you don't hurt yourself or weaken the equipment.
Set the Standard
The easiest way to identify a standard barbell is by its diameter. The standard barbell is 1 inch in diameter. The 1-inch diameter is the same along the entire 7-foot-long barbell. The ends are smooth, for easy weight-plate loading, while the center is rough for easy hand-holding. Each end has a raised area to prevent the weight plates from sliding all the way across the barbell. In comparison, an Olympic barbell has 2-inch diameter ends.
Load the Weights
The standard barbell, without additional weights, weighs 20 pounds. The weight plates have a 1 1/8-inch hole in the center to easily slide onto the bar. Olympic weight plates, with a 2 1/8-inch hole, do not safely fit on a standard barbell. The weight plates are most commonly available in 1 1/4, 2 1/2, 5, 10, 25, 35 and 45 pounds. A selection of weight plates is nice if you are performing total-body workouts with your standard barbell set.
If you purchase a standard barbell set for at-home use, expect to buy a package that includes the barbell and 85 pounds of weight plates, for a maximum usage of 110 pounds. You can purchase the weight plates separately for a maximum weight load of 400 pounds. Weight amounts higher than 400 pounds are unsafe to load on the standard barbell. If you find yourself requiring more weight than this, one way to maintain your strength is to adjust your exercises into single-limb, instead of double-limb movements. For example, do a single-leg squat instead of a traditional squat.
Room to Spare
Standard sets are useful for at-home workouts, but similar to an Olympic set, they require a certain amount of space. Plan to use approximately 11 square feet to perform your standard barbell workout. You are able to use a standard barbell for all barbell exercises including shoulder presses, squats, deadlifts, bench presses and arm curls. Use the barbell within the weight limits for a safe and challenging workout.