The Anatomy of a Barbell and Weight Plates

The Anatomy of a Barbell and Weight Plates

Barbells and weight plates are ideal pieces of exercise equipment for any gym-goer, but if you’ve never used them before, you’ll soon learn that they are not all created equal. In fact, there are many kinds of barbells and weight plates available that can elevate the intensity of your workouts in various ways. So, let’s start with the basics.

The Anatomy of a Barbell

Let’s first look at the fundamental structure of a barbell before getting into the specifics of selecting the best barbell for your goals.

  1. Shaft – The length of the barbell.
  2. Sleeves – The part of the barbell that the weight plates are loaded onto. They are slightly thicker than the shaft.
  3. Bearings – The mechanisms that sit inside the barbell, allowing the sleeves to spin independently from the shaft.
  4. Collars – Stops the weight plates from sliding onto the shaft.
  5. Knurling – The crosshatch pattern of the shaft that helps with grip.

Simply put, barbells can be divided into two categories: the standard barbell and the specialty barbell. 

The Standard Barbell

The standard barbell is a straight, steel/aluminium pole. It has little give until it is very heavily loaded. This barbell can be used for a variety of exercises, such as bench presses, squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses, despite not being specifically designed for any one of them. 

Standard barbells differ in their own right. The REBEL Aluminium Technique Barbell is a standard barbell perfectly suited to teaching fundamental weight training and weightlifting movement patterns, without a heavy load. It is lighter in weight and slightly shorter in length than most other barbells, making it the perfect ‘starter’ in weight training for both men and women alike. 

The REBEL Gymnasium Barbell has been designed as a cost-effective entry-level bar for functional training as well as general weightlifting strength and technical skill development. Its tensile and yield strength is greater, allowing for a heavier load of weight plates to be added. The REBEL Gymnasium barbell features two bearings and two brass bushings making it suitable for standard barbell strength training use and not olympic weightlifting. This bar is not designed to be dropped from overhead.

Although the series of REBEL WoD Barbells fall under the umbrella of standard barbells, they are anything but. The REBEL WoD Barbell 2.0-2.2 series is the perfect weightlifting barbell for the athlete seeking reliable quality, durability, and performance across a range of prices depending on your requirements. It is the barbell of choice for the hard-working environments of home gyms, functional fitness facilities, high performance centres and general strength & conditioning gyms. This series of REBEL WoD bars suit a variety of different load limits and pockets with specialised improvements made on both the men’s and women’s bar. Each of the barbell’s in the series feature ten needle bearings and a brass bushing per side. This ensures a premium, smooth feel and free spinning bar making them perfect for Olympic weightlifting.

The Rebel Powerlifting Barbell is ideal for lifting heavy at home or in commercial gym environments and is made from high-quality spring-steel with a chrome finish. This barbell has a load limit of up t0 680kg and has been designed to suit the heavy load requirements of powerlifters. This barbell has been designed to adhere to the specifications stipulated by the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) including weights, dimensions and knurl placement.

The REBEL Axle Barbell (also known as a Fat Bar or a Thick Bar) is a 20kg quality-crafted, powder-coated barbell. The shaft of the bar is 50mm in diameter which is up to 20mm more than any other standard barbell and this subtle but important difference will increase your grip, wrist and forearm strength, carrying over to all other areas of your training. 

The Specialty Bar

Exercise-goers of all skill levels use the standard barbell, but as you get stronger and try new workouts, you might require a more specialised bar. Specialty bars are also good for athletes who have limited mobility, or who may be recovering from injury. These different types of specialty bars each have their own design to better suit the individual and what they are wanting to achieve. 

The REBEL Cambered Bar (also known as a Buffalo Bar) is a specialty bar that has a slight camber/curvature intended to take the stress off of one’s shoulders and offers a lower handgrip for those with limited shoulder mobility. It still allows you to move with the same technique used with regular straight barbells. The cambered bar is perfectly balanced and made from high-quality steel, which has a hardened chrome finish.

The REBEL Safety Bar (also sometimes known as a Yoke Bar) is another specialty bar which takes the stress off your shoulders and wrists. This bar has rubber-coated grips which help with control, while the dense padding surrounding your shoulders and neck area makes for a more comfortable workout.

If you literally want to stand inside the bar you are lifting, say hello to the REBEL Hex Bar. The open-box design makes deadlifts easier and allows for training a wide range of upper and lower body exercises. It supports heavy-duty wheels which have been attached to the ends of the square tubing, allowing the hex bar to be turned vertically so that it can be loaded and unloaded efficiently.

The newest addition to REBEL’s specialty bars is the REBEL Swiss Bar. This training bar is unique in design as it has a set of vertical handles on either side of an angled handle. This ensures that there is a range of different grip options that can be used during training to target specific muscle groups. 

What is a barbell without weight plates?

There are many names for the weights used in weightlifting, but plates, discs, and bumpers are the most common. They are round weights that are used at the end of a barbell. These weights come in different sizes, weights and materials.

“Bumper” plates are a common weight used in functional training. Because of their thick rubber coating they can be dropped from overhead repeatedly, minimising damage to floors and barbells – perfect for the harsh environments of a Functional Fitness gym. REBEL’s Black Rubber Bumper Weight Plates and Hi TMP Bumper Weight Plates are the best heavy-duty bumper plates as they come in a range of different weights from 5kg to 25kg. REBEL’s unique, heavy-duty, premium Colour Edge Bumper Plates are perfect for training with their low bounce and snug fit on the bar. They are also made to withstand hours of work each day.

Looking for the best possible quality in lower weight fractional plates, choose from our two different designs. Our Fractional Micro Weight Plates are made from quality, long-lasting A3+ Synthetic Rubber and are both colour-coded and marked with their weight ranging from 0.5kg to 5kg. The Square Edge Fractional Weight Plates are made from steel and also painted to differentiate each weight option from 0.5kg to 5kg.

Weight plates are not only made from rubber but can come in steel as well. REBEL Calibrated Steel Plates are made from cast iron which is machine calibrated for precision and perfectly suited to the serious weightlifter or powerlifter. Each disc is cut thin to allow for maximum loading capacity and colour-coded for easy identification from a distance. The back of each plate includes brass calibration plugs for an even greater level of weight precision and ensures accuracy to within 10g. The REBEL Calibrated Steel Plates come in a range of sizes from 0.25kg to 25kg. 


Now that we’ve gone through the most important aspects of barbells and weight plates, let’s explore important accessories for training and competition.

Collars are an important piece of equipment when using a barbell and weight plates. Not to be confused with the actual collars that form part of a barbell, collars are separate pieces of equipment used to prevent the weight plates from sliding off the barbell sleeves at either end, they are an essential accessory. The REBEL Olympic Weightlifting Spring Collar Set, REBEL Bear Grip Olympic Bar Collars and The REBEL Olympic Competition Collar Set provide a range of options depending on your requirements.

When performing lifts, feeling your hand start to slip can be annoying and even dangerous. Using chalk is an effective way to keep moisture away. REBEL Chalk Sauce, our Chalk in a box or Chalk in a Tin will strengthen your grip allowing you to lift heavier for longer.

Lifting weights can be incredibly beneficial. However, it needs to be done correctly to avoid injury. A little support will go a long way. By using the REBEL Weightlifting Belt or REBEL XF Weightlifting Belt, you will help reduce stress on your lower back. The Rebel Powerlifting belt is a high quality leather powerlifting belt aimed at those who want a distinctive product which provides the ultimate support, stability and performance.

The REBEL Rehband X-RX Lifting Black Belt will provide more than enough support and maximise your workout performance. Its fully straight design and its perfect combination of stabilisation and compression will help you with those extra heavy lifts.

Our range of weight belts aren’t just for the avid and resolute weightlifter but can be used in the initial stages of weight lifting. They can assist beginners by teaching them to engage their ab muscles properly and by making them more aware of the position of their back.

A barbell serves as the foundation of true strength training. By purchasing a set of barbells and weight plates, you can target every muscle group in your body, from head to toe, and understanding the ins and outs of both barbells and weight plates is important to make the best purchase decision for your purpose. If you are unsure about what your setup and equipment selection should be, call our gear team on +27 11 450 3167 or email us at [email protected] and we can assist with recommendations.

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