I like power bars, not the PowerBars that taste like cardboard, but a nice stiff power bar. Okay, that doesn’t sound right either. Some people probably won’t ever come across a power bar in their life, where some might only get to use them, most won’t even know, just depends on where you work out. What makes a good power bar? Stiff shaft with no whip, thats 29mm in diameter, and a nice grippy knurling. Who needs a power bar? Mainly those focused on the big 3 lifts (squat, bench, dead). Why get a power bar? Squats feel better, presses too, and because you can.
“I squat just fine with a mixed barbell.”
If you’re into a wide variety of movements and just want a single barbell, stick with a 28mm/28.5mm barbell. If you’re a barbell geek and can appreciate the nuances of how a barbell can affect your performance…keep reading.
The Grizzly Bar from American Barbell is their newest and entry level barbell designed to compete with the legendary, but outdated Texas Power Bar and the popular Rogue Ohio Power Bar. If you’re a competitive power lifter, you’re probably going to want a bar for each of your movements, but for the rest of us, something like this should do. In my testing, I’ve found the Grizzly bar is probably the most well rounded entry level power bar for the money.
Build Quality/Construction – 6/6
Key features of the construction of the Grizzly Bar include:
- 29mm shaft diameter
- Hard chrome coating on both shaft and sleeves
- 190k psi, single marking
- Light depth knurling with center knurling
- Composite bushings
American Barbell products are made right here in sunny Southern California at their warehouse in San Diego. I got to take a tour around a few years ago to see how everything goes down and it was like being a kid in a candy shop. The build quality of every AB bar that I’ve tested has been top notch and that’s no different with the Grizzly bar. When dropped, it’s produces the most minimal noise compared to any other manufacturer; there’s literally no rattling. That’s a testament to how tight the tolerances of AB barbells are.
Knurling – 6/6
I’m a firm believer in that you don’t need shark tooth knurling to get a good grip on a barbell. Most power bars have coarse patterns that are both deep and unfinished – this provides grip but it does so at the cost of ripping your hands apart. I don’t mind a healthy dose of knurling, but if I can’t train because my hands are tore up, count me out. AB has a better approach to knurling: reducing the size of the crosshatches to fit more per inch. The pattern is consistent, well cut, fine, provides excellent grip but doesn’t tear your hands up. This goes with the center knurling as well, it’s same as the grip knurling; it catches your back or neck without digging in and being uncomfortable.
Spin – 4/6
(This is opposite of a mixed use or Oly bar, higher number = slower spin.)
American Barbell pretty much started the trend of putting composite bushings in barbells. Whether or not you care for that is a whole different discussion, but the bushings on their bars are some of the smoothest rotating in the industry. Unfortunately, this isn’t so desirable for a power barbell. The sleeves don’t spin as freely as bushings do, but they spin a bit much when pressing with the Grizzly bar and can make your wrist shift position. This also depends on how much weight your moving as well and will probably be the most apparent for intermediate lifters. Beginners and advanced shouldn’t have much of an issue with this since their weights will be either too light to matter or heavy enough to weigh the sleeves down.
Whip – 5/6
(This is opposite of a mixed use or Oly bar, higher number = less whip.)
The Grizzly Bar uses a familiar 190k psi tensile with a 29mm shaft to drown out the whip. I have a feeling it’s the same metallurgy found in pretty much all of their other 190k psi bars because there is still some bend to the bar (static) at heavier weights, though it doesn’t deflect back to center much when moving. The bar stays securely on your back (or front rack) which is still a vast improvement over mixed use barbells and should be great for anyone squatting to the 400lb range (where I’m at).
For deadlifting, you want a barbell with qualities that are more similar to an Oly bar and not like a power bar. Stiff shaft with a larger diameter would typically not be all that great. You can’t have it all, but the case of the Grizzly bar having more bend to it under load works in it’s favor for deadlifting. At lower weights, it will still be stiff, but around the 400-500lb mark, you’ll start to get some decent bend out of it. It’s not comparable to a deadlift bar, but it’s better than all the other 29mm power bars I’ve tried.
Value – 6/6
The Grizzly Bar retails at $250, which is right in line with the Buddy Capp’s and Rogue Ohio power bar. The Texas bar is classic, but is outdated in design and it’s not finished very well. The Rogue bar is a stiffer option compared to the Grizzly bar, but I can’t work out with that bar for very long without it destroying my hands. The Grizzly bar to me is the most well rounded option for an entry level power barbell. If you value the longevity of your hands without sacrificing on quality and performance, it should be an easy pick.