What is the Difference Between a Deadlift Bar and a Normal Bar?

Who else wants to know, “What is the Difference Between a Deadlift Bar and a Normal Bar?”

When you first enter the gym environment a barbell is basically a barbell.

You’ll typically use an Olympic bar which is a standard 20kg or 45lbs (or 44 and a bit pounds in truth).

However, as you mature as a lifter you’ll become aware that there are various types of barbells you can use.

And one of these happens to be a deadlift bar.

So, allow me to explain the difference between a deadlift bar and a standard Olympic (or stiff) bar.

Plus, whether it’s worth your while deadlifting with a deadlift bar.

What is the Difference Between a Deadlift Bar and a Normal Bar?

There are a number of differences between a deadlift bar and a normal bar. These include that a deadlift bar is longer, the shaft width is greater, plus it has more bend to it than a standard Olympic bar. A normal bar is thicker, which means that a deadlift bar will be easier to grip. However, you typically won’t get that much benefit from using a deadlift bar until you’re lifting over 500lbs.

The Basic Differences Between a Deadlift Bar and a Normal Bar

A Person Getting Ready to Deadlift a Heavy Barbell

I guess you could say that there’s only really one similarity between a deadlift bar and an Olympic bar – the weight.

Just to make things easier, in terms of how much weight you’re lifting, both bars weigh 20kg.

With that being said, both bars are also typically made of steel and finished with bare steel.

However, a deadlift bar may also be finished in black zinc.

And that’s pretty much where the similarities end.

A deadlift bar is four inches longer than a normal bar at 90 inches and 86 inches respectively.

This also means that there is a difference in shaft width – deadlift = 56 inches and normal = 51.5 inches.

Talking of the shaft, you’ll notice that there is far more knurling on a deadlift bar when compared to the Olympic variety.

The diameter of a deadlift bar is 27mm, whereas a normal bar is 29mm.

And probably the most noticeable difference between the two bars is that the deadlift bar has more bend to it.

Basically, the more weight you add to a deadlift bar the more it will bend down at the ends.

How Does This Make a Deadlift Bar “Better”?

So, now that you’re aware of the differences your first thought may be, “How and why does this make a deadlift bar better?”

The one area that will seem immediately obvious is the thickness and additional knurling on a deadlift bar.

The thinner diameter of a deadlift bar makes it easier to grip.

Okay, we’re only talking a couple of millimeters here, but it definitely makes all the difference.

You can get more barbell surface area to grip with your hands which makes the lift that bit more comfortable.

You’ll also notice the extremely aggressive knurling of the shaft, which once again helps with grip.

I’m sure most of us find that grip can be a limiting factor when it comes to deadlifts.

So, the easier a bar is to grip, the better you can expect it to be for deadlifts.

What About the Length & Bend of a Deadlift Bar?

However, you may not totally understand why the additional length and bend of a deadlift bar can help.

Basically, the bend on the bar provides more “whip” and a shorter range of motion with deadlifts.

This makes it far easier to get the load off the floor, which can be a stumbling block as the weight gets heavier and heavier.

Due to the bend in the bar you will already have started pulling while the weight plates are still on the ground, so in reality you have less overall distance to travel with full weight in hand.

The more weight you have on the bar the more the deadlift bar will bend.

So, once again, you have a shorter range of motion to travel through.

The additional length of the deadlift bar will obviously add to the “bendiness” of the bar as you add more weight.

So, in effect, you are in more of an “upright position” when the weight plates leave the floor.

All of these factors added together will make it easier to deadlift heavier weights.

In reality, a better grip on the bar and a reduced range of motion should add a fair few pounds to your overall deadlift numbers.

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Should You Use a Deadlift Bar?

You may believe that due to the above factors that you should immediately convert to deadlifting with a deadlift bar.

However, in truth, I’m not of the same thinking.

For me, it really depends on your reasons for deadlifting in the first place.

I would say that for the vast majority of us, we should stick to deadlifting with an Olympic/stiff bar.

In fact, the only real reason for using a deadlift bar is if you deadlift competitively.

If you regularly take part in powerlifting competitions then the name of the game is to obviously deadlift as much weight as possible.

Plus, you will typically be using a deadlift bar during competitions.

But, for us mere mortals, I don’t feel this is what we should be aiming for.

I know on a personal level the reason I deadlift is for better overall strength.

So, I want to get bigger and stronger, and therefore deadlifts form part of my weekly workout routines.

Therefore, I’m not really looking to make the lift “easier”.

The standard bar thickness will help to improve my grip strength.

The fact that I have to go through the deadlift full range of motion will be better in terms of activating the target muscles.

Okay, I may not be able to lift as much weight with a normal bar, but I will still naturally progress as I get stronger.

Another factor to take into consideration is how much you’re actually deadlifting.

Realistically, you don’t actually get to take advantage of the “whip” and “bend” until you’re deadlifting more than 500lbs, and over 600 in order to see a real difference.

I’ve included a great video from Cailer Woolam below.

Cailer goes through deadlifting various weights, ranging from 200+ to 800+ pounds, in order to demonstrate the difference between a deadlift bar and a normal bar.

As you’ll see, there is very little difference during the “lighter” few lifts.

Battle of the Bend – 365kg Deadlift Bar vs. Stiff Bar

Final Thoughts

So, I hope you have a better idea of the difference between a deadlift bar and a normal bar.

Basically, a deadlift bar will be longer, have a longer shaft, a narrower circumference, and provide more whip and bend.

All of these factors will help to improve your grip on the bar, while also reducing your range of motion.

This will make deadlifts a little easier and therefore this should allow you to lift more weight.

However, from a personal perspective, I would prefer my deadlifts to be “harder” in order to improve my overall strength.

Plus, you realistically need to be deadlifting more than 500lbs to see any noticeable difference.

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