The first thing you need to ask yourself before buying this bar is:
Do I love deadlifts?
I love deadlifts.
By no means am I a competitive powerlifter, however, the deadlift is one of my favorite movements. It’s both functional, both simple and complex at the same time, and you can pick up tons of weight (relatively). If shit were to hit the fan, you would want a strong deadlifter in your zombie survival group. Deadlifting is the apex predator of lifting weights.
I had a stint with powerlifting not too long ago where I put my crossfitting second and started working on the big 3 lifts. Before that, I had no clue that there were such things as specialty bars for squat, bench and dead. I’d always used a normal mixed use bar at the gym, but even then I was still pulling over 500lbs. For those of you that don’t know what makes a deadlift bar special, it’s a longer bar but stays in the length specifications for competition, with a slightly smaller handle diameter with aggressive knurling for better grip, and a ton more flex (whip) so that the weights break off the floor later than your pull. Why would you want that? Well, you’re picking up the same weight, but that full weight doesn’t hit until you’ve reached higher into your pull.
As with all Rogue Fitness equipment, the Ohio deadlift bar is over engineered. The minute you pull the bar out of it’s well packed tube, you’ll be satisfied knowing you got your money’s worth. Like with the other Ohio bars, you even get a tag with the signature of the person who put the finishing touches on your bar. The ODLB comes in both a bare or a black/bright zinc finish; I opted for the former because it was cheaper and I’m really the only person that’s going to be using the bar. As with all bare steel bars, regular maintenance is required to prevent excessive rusting. The benefit is having the best feeling “finish” of all the bar coatings.
The knurling, is, AGGRESSIVE. I’m talking about rip your hands up aggressive; the cuts are deep and coarse. At the same time, I’ve never even needed to chalk up to pull with this bar yet. Luckily since the diameter is 27mm, it’s a little easier to hold on to, but if you’re buying into a deadlift bar, you should already expect to be tearing your hands up. Aside from that, the knurling like all Rogue barbells, is exceptionally well cut.
As with the standard Ohio bar, you’ll get a 190k psi tensile shaft. Now let’s just keep in mind that’s just a number and doesn’t actually have anything to do with the whip of the bar; which is more dependent on metallurgy and length. That length? 90.5 inches compared to the 86″ of a standard Olympic barbell. The majority of this bar is the shaft, with 17″ between the knurling and a single powerlifting mark. Conventional deadlifters rejoice, while sumo deadlifters should look into some shin guards. Surprisingly enough, the bronze bushings in the sleeves rotate amazingly well; if only they could do that with the standard Ohio bar. Another thing worth noting, the sleeves are also somewhat shorter at 15.5″ compared to a normal bar’s 16.4. If the only plates you have are rubber bumpers, you might have some issues loading this bar up. I managed to get five 45lb oly competition bumpers on each side and barely had room to put a collar on. It’s obvious this bar was designed to work with thinner calibrated powerlifting style discs.
So why do you need a deadlift bar? If you’re a competitive deadlifter/powerlifter, or if you just really love deadlifting. Honestly even with how much I love deadlifting, the bar isn’t cheap at $295, so it’s not really a necessity unless you’ve got money to burn. If you’ve never lifted with a deadlift bar before, honestly, I probably wouldn’t recommend it. On my best day I pulled 535lb on a normal mixed use bar, but just the other day I pulled 540lb (for a PR) on the ODLB without much drama. If you’re a crossfitter, you’re not going to have the luxury of getting to use deadlift bars in competition, so that rules that out. That being said, if you’re a powerlifter and you’re going to run into more deadlift bars in your future, then by all means, train on the ODLB.
My point is, training on a standard mixed use bar will probably make you stronger than training on a dedicated deadlift bar. The flex of the ODLB is excellent, so much so that things become “easier” than they would be on a normal bar. That’s not taking away anything from the Ohio Deadlift bar, which is an amazingly engineered bar in it’s own right. That’s also not taking away from the amazing powerlifters this bar is geared mostly towards; this is part of their sport, it doesn’t make them weak because they’re using specialized bars. That’s like saying using a bearing bar is going to make you a crappier Oly lifter. Training on the Ohio Deadlift bar will certainly not make you any weaker. You’ll be able to hit your full potential on specialized barbells.
If you love deadlifting, just want to hit deadlift PR’s, or are a dedicated powerlifter, the Ohio Deadlift bar is exactly what you’re going to want to round off your collection of bars.