The deadlift is a compound exercise that targets the upper and lower body. While many people perform deadlifts using regular barbells, deadlift bars are specifically designed for the movement.
Deadlift bars usually measure 56 inches long and are 23-27 inches in diameter. They are commonly made of steel but differ in coating and knurling. Some of the popular coatings for deadlift bars are black oxide, chrome, black zinc, and cerakote. Moreover, the three common knurling types are hill, pointy mountain, and volcano.
Deadlift Bars vs Standard Bars
Deadlift bars are made specifically for performing deadlifts. It considers the essential features and characteristics that make the deadlift unique as a compound exercise. To maximize the energy output and also prevent injuries due to undue pressure on specific bones and muscles in the body, especially the spine, deadlift bars deviate from the features of a standard weightlifting bar.
Deadlift bars are lighter than weightlifting bars. They measure only 15kg which makes it easier to use for athletes who like to train under light load. Deadlift bars are also longer, measuring 56 inches compared to 52 inches for weightlifting bars. They also have a narrower diameter of 27mm for improved grip. Some deadlifts bar even measure 23mm which promotes greater amounts of bar flex.
Being longer and thinner, deadlift bars help in the execution of the deadlift exercise. Having a longer bar helps in distributing the weight across the bar. A thinner bar helps in maintaining grip throughout the exercise.
Types and Features of Deadlift Bars
Yield Strength and Tensile Strength
When it comes to material quality and durability for deadlift bars, two of the most important features are yield strength and tensile strength.
Yield strength refers to the amount of weight that the bar can endure before it bends permanently. Tensile strength, measured in PSI or pounds per square inch, refers to the amount of weight before the bar breaks.
The tensile strength of high-quality Olympic weightlifting bars is at around 200,000 PSI. However, 180,000 PSI is good enough for common barbells, including deadlift bars.
Usually, the tensile strength of deadlift bars made of steel is at around 190,000 PSI.
There are also various options for coating of deadlift bars. However, some people prefer the feel of raw steel in their hands. This may require regular cleaning and oiling to prevent the steel from rusting.
Two of the most important considerations are budget and dedication to maintenance; Some of the coatings will significantly increase the price while lowering the frequency of maintenance.
The four main coating options for deadlift bars are black oxide, chrome, black zinc, and cerakote.
Black oxide refers to the chemical finish placed on top of the steel. This is not categorized similarly to the other coating options. It emulates the same feeling as a deadlift bar with no coating. It also requires regular maintenance.
Chrome adds corrosion and rust resistance to the deadlift bar. It also provides decent protection since this coating does not get scratched easily. However, the heavy chrome coating can be used to hide poor build quality. It also diminishes the quality of the bar’s knurling which can affect grip.
Similarly, black zinc also adds corrosion protection but compromises knurling quality. It fills in a layer of coating on the ridges of the bar’s knurling and reduces its effects on grip.
Cerakote is a ceramic-based coating that is often used in firearms. It is a thin coating but provides decent protection to the bar against corrosion and rust. It is one of the best coatings for deadlift bars because it does not reduce the knurling aggression similar to other coating options.
One of the main features of deadlift bars that makes them different from weightlifting bars is whip. Whip, in relation to yield strength, is the bending of the bar due to heavy weight on both ends of the bar.
Deadlift bars are made to bend on both sides of the bar. This helps the lifter in lifting the bar properly and safely. It decreases the distance that the lifter needs to lift the weight from the floor. This increases the maximum amount of weight that the lifter is allowed to lift per set.
Whip usually manifests when the lifter lifts more than 100kg of weight. Unlike deadlift bars, powerlifting bars are much stiffer and have a higher amount of yield strength.
The 27mm diameter and 86-90 inches length of the deadlift bar help in producing the optimal amount of whip for deadlifts. Powerlifting bars with up to 32mm of bar diameter are usually stiffer and do not produce whip.
Knurling refers to the patterned engraving on the bar which increases friction and helps in maintaining a grip on the bar during barbell exercises. Knurling is a safety measure as well as a performance feature that allows the lifter to lift the bar safely and effectively.
The knurling of deadlift bars is also different from powerlifting bars. Powerlifting bars have an aggressive center knurl to help maintain bar position during squats.
The unique knurling of deadlift bars allows the lifter to add more weight without worrying about losing grip of the bar and sustaining an injury. Concave-style knurling is one of the most common kinds of knurling for high-end deadlift bars because it is aggressive and promotes grip without affecting the skin.
Some of the most common knurling patterns are hill, pointy mountain, and volcano. Among these knurling patterns, the hill is the least aggressive and also the worst in improving grip; It features rounded tops which slip on the skin.
The volcano knurl provides a total of four contact points with the skin instead of just one, like in pointy mountain knurling. It provides an aggressive knurl which improves grip but does not dig deep into the skin during heavy deadlifts.