Barbells and bumpers are the crowd favourite of training equipment. There are a tonne (pun intended) of different kinds of bars and plates you can get, but what kind do you really need?
As has been the theme with the previous articles, what you will mostly benefit from is largely very goal dependent. As an example, barbells usually come with one of two kinds of bearings. These bearings are found in the collar/sleeves of the bar and are what makes the collars rotate when the bar turns over in a snatch or a clean. The two types of bearings are ball bearings and needle bearings. Put simply a needle bearing barbell usually spins faster and smoother than a bushing barbell. Needle Bearings are more complex to manufacture than bushings so you might pay a bit more but it will provide a much smoother and quitter end product. Needle bearings will provide a much smoother rotation than ball bearings, which help with the efficiency of transition when commencing the third pull of Olympic lifts. If you are looking to work on your Olympic Lifting (Snatch, Clean + Jerk), a bar with a smooth rotation is the way to go.
If you are a Powerlifter or an athlete performing lifts that don’t require a highly efficient rotation, then bars with ball bearings will be suitable. It is also worth noting that if you are mainly doing exercises such as back squats, you may want to consider purchasing a barbell with knurling in the middle of the bar to aid with the grip of the bar on the shoulders. A more traditional Power Bar may provide less “whip” and give greater stability under heavy loads.
The full range of Again Faster barbells can be found here. The Again Faster Team 3.0 barbell is the best barbell on the market in its class. It will last forever in a gym or class setting and will withstand whatever you can throw at it. If the budget won't allow for the Team 3.0, you can’t go wrong with the Evolution barbell either.
Don't bother with the cheaper bars on the market for functional fitness. Most boxes have a barbell graveyard in the corner somewhere and you'll see most of the bars have something in common. Cheap steel, cheap components, cheap finish.
A barbell should be seen as an investment. Get the right bar for the job, not the cheapest.
Virgin Rubber, Recycled Crumb, Steel Calibrated, Competition Style, Training, Steel Change, PU Rubber….it can all get a bit overwhelming. There are so many different styles of weights available, so what’s the best style of weight plate?
We’re going to concentrate on Bumper plates, as they are what you would typically find in a functional fitness style set-up. Bumper plates are typically made of different kinds of rubber, whilst Oother types of plates are made of cast iron and plastic.
If you are on a training program that doesn’t require you to constantly drop weights, cast iron plates are a great way to go. They'll ll last forever and will not require maintenance or repair. They also provide a different feel when loaded onto a bar. They are typically much thinner than a rubber- based bumper, so weight distribution on the bar is different and the force put through the bar at certain points gives a different sensation.
Rubber bumper plates however, are what you need for Olympic Lifting, Crossfit and any kind of activity that may require the flexibility of dropping weights. It’s important to make sure that you are purchasing weights that are well made and durable and doing your part to look after the equipment - be careful when taking them off the bar, make sure that you are storing them correctly and no dropping 5kg plates from overhead. They just aren’t designed to withstand that force.
Some rubber plates will be purely rubber, others will have a steel insert, and still others will be made of recycled rubber. It comes down to personal preference about aesthetics or the volume of plates you can load on the bar as to what style you get. As an example, loading 240kg of Again Faster Camo or Virgin plates will use up a lot more room on the bar than Training or Competition style plates.
Lastly, plastic technique plates are also available for purchase in 2.5 and 5kg variants, which can be really useful for beginner lifters. It ensures that your lifter will be starting in their correct position when lifting off the floor, without having to stress about weight stands or doing a deadlift first and then getting into the starting position. They provide the correct stimulus for any movement, whilst still maintaining integrity of movement and positions. They are a great addition to any gym to ensure new lifters are lifting in a safe manner.
Make sure you check out the Again Faster Australia website for all your bumper plate needs!