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Gyms can be intimidating and too often introduction to the equipment can be done in a fast half way.  In the coming weeks, I will be posting a guide to various equipment often found in gyms. I will be posting a guide to benches and racks, nautilus machines, cardio machines and miscellaneous equipment in the near future.



As defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “heavy objects that are lifted during exercising (such as dumbbells and barbells) that are not attached to a piece of equipment”.  i.e., cables, pulleys, pins or weight stacks.

BARBELLS/BARS – metal bars, ranging from 4-7 feet long, with weights at each end that are used for exercise and in weight lifting. There are different types of bars; below are GENERAL overviews:



1 – STANDARD/REGULAR BARS– Typically made from steel, these bars are generally 5-6 feet long; weigh between 15 and 25 lbs. and have a load capacity of around 100-200lbs. These bars can be used for presses, squats, deadlifts, rows and curls. The diameter of these bars is 1 inch thick, have non-rotating 1 in sleeves (ends of a barbells) and use standard 1 inch weight plates. Standard bars are ordinarily used in home gyms.

2 – OLYMPIC BARS – These bars are commonly found in commercial gyms and can be used for presses, squats, deadlifts, rows and curls. The typical Olympic bar has a load capacity of around 600-1500lbs is 7 ft  long and 44 lbs. Smaller Olympic barbells (4-6 ft long and 25-35 lbs)  can also be found in commercial gyms. Olympic bars are thicker, heavier and longer than standard barbells.  The centers of these bars are about 1 inch thick and have rotating sleeves that are 2 inches thick. Olympic weight plates that have 2 inch centers are used with these barbells.
Olympic bars are made with steel that allow them to bend a bit and rebound, this is known as a bar’s “whip”. Different bars have different levels of whip.
These bars have grooved diamond shaped areas on the bar, known as the “knurled’ part of the bar. This allows for a better grip. The knurling grooves ranges from fine to aggressive (soft to course) and are strategically located on the bars depending on the type of exercise to be performed.

There are certain barbell specifications for Olympic lifting competitions including its length, weight, diameter and knurling placement.
In General here is what to look for in:
Men’s bar: 7.2  ft long and 44 lbs.
Woman’s bar:  6.5 ft long and 33 lbs.
Youth bar: 5 – 5 1/2 ft long and 22 lbs.

barbellsOther barbells used for specific exercises can also be found in commercial gyms. They include bars such as:
Powerlifting bar – used for deadlifts, squats and presses
Olympic lifting bar – used for the snatch, and the clean and jerk
Hybrid bar (croosfit)
Safety Squat (Yoke) bar and cambered bar – used for squats
Please leave a message below if you would like information on these bars.


fixed-weight-barbells3Fixed weight barbells – As the name implies, some gyms will have a rack of barbells with attached/affixed weight ranging from around 20-100 lbs.


ez-curl4EZ Curl bar – Typically between 4-6 ft. long, these bars are used for isolation exercises like the bicep and triceps curl. These bars have angled grips which help reduce the stress that a straight barbell or dumbbell can place on the wrists.  Weight varies – avg. is about 15 lbs.


trap-bar5 Trap bar/Hex bar – A hexagon shaped bar where you position yourself in the middle. The design of the bar allows for a body position that limits the potential for injury, especially of the lower back. Traditionally used for deadlifts and shrugs this bar can also be used for performing presses, rows, squats, farmer’s walk and pushups.  Weight varies- avg. is about 45 lbs.


swiss-barbell6Swiss bar – Used for upper body exercises such as presses, rows, curls and triceps extensions, these bars are ideal for those who have shoulder injuries/issues. This bar allows for a neutral grip which protects the shoulder. Weight varies – avg.is about 35 lbs.


tricep-bar7Triceps bar – A rectangular shaped bar with two centered parallel bars for hand placement. This bar can be used for triceps exercises as well as other exercises that target the upper body (hammer curl, raises, presses, etc.). This bar helps reduce the stress that a straight barbell or dumbbell can place on the wrists. Weight varies- avg. is about 20 lbs.



As defined by Meriam Webster,a short bar with weights at the ends that is used to make muscles stronger”.  You can also think of them as one handed barbells as exercises are performed with one in each hand.

dumbbells1dumbbell2DumbbellsFrom vinyl to cast iron, shapes of hexagon to powerblock, adjustable to fixed weight, these free weights are generally inexpensive for the at home gym and available in commercial gyms in increments of 5-100+ lbs.


Placed at the ends of barbells.


Standard Plates – used with standard barbells only (used primarily in home gyms.) These plates come with a 1 inch diameter center hole.

Olympic Plates – used with Olympic bars, these plates come with a 2 inch diameter center hole. Competition weight plates are standardized while commercialized plates are not and as a result may come in different thickness. There are different types of Olympic plates.

solid-rubber-olympic-bumper-plateBumper plates – a thick solid rubber weight that allows for a loaded bar to be dropped from a height, (with exercises such as snatches and presses) without harm to the plates, floor or athlete.

Rubber plates – same as cast iron plates but with an extra layer of rubber to allow for safety and durability.
Urethane plates are similar to rubber plates but this coating allows for more longevity and are less susceptible to damage.

Powerlifting plates– usually made of cast iron, steel or chromed metal.  They are thinner than the plates listed above to allow for more weight to be added to the bar. Used for powerlifting exercises.



kettlebellskettle bells-originating in Russia over 350 years ago, these round shaped weights are typically made of cast iron or steel,. They can be used for just about any type of exercise. Examples include the Turkish get-up, snatch, swings, deadlift, rows, goblet squat, lunges and presses.

If you have any questions or want information on particular pieces, please leave a comment…