weightlifting

Rogue Fitness Training Bar Review

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This review has been a long time coming. I’ve always wanted one ever since I saw this bar at the Games in 2014, but I never wanted to shell out the money they were charging for it. Why you ask? I just thought it was overpriced compared to other import bearing barbells that I thought would be better barbells. Comparably speaking, at the time the Pendlay HD could be had for much less and was a very similarly spec’d barbell. So why did I even want this bar? The amount of free spin in the sleeves was incredible; I couldn’t believe it was a bushing barbell. A part of me concluded that since it was the display model at the games, they had just pumped the sleeves up with oil, so it was kind of a risky buy since just about every Rogue bar doesn’t have the greatest rotation. Luckily, that’s not the case, and the Rogue Fitness Training bar is one of the greatest bars that they make, if not the greatest.

From a specification standpoint, the Training bar doesn’t really stand out; it’s pretty much like every other Rogue barbell, or like most popular barbells for that matter. With the Training bar, you get a 190k psi tensile strength 28mm shaft, bronze bushings, light knurling with a single IWF marking and the choice between either bright or black zinc coating. So on paper, it looks like that premium over a typical Rogue bar just nabs you a 28mm shaft. It’s very easy for the Training bar to get lost in the crowd this way, but the specs are only half the story. I wish there was a place that you could go to try these bars before you purchased them! If that were the case, you’d see more people with this bar. (Any SoCal natives are welcome to come to my gym, CrossFit 805 and check some of my collection out.)

Unlike the 190k 28.5mm shaft thats used on the Ohio bar (Rogue bar, operator, Castro…), the training bar uses the exact same shaft as the NA weightlifting bar. Since that’s the case, the whip is much more substantial than you’ll find on a typical multi-purpose Rogue bar. The Ohio bar, while still an awesome bar, feels like a powerlifting bar compared to the Training bar. You’ll notice things start to get going around 200lbs, but from there it only picks up and gets better.  It’s true that at these weights, whip isn’t necessarily going to have the same impact that it does at advanced weights, but you can definitely feel the bar oscillate during cleans and jerks.

Another thing reminiscent of Rogue’s higher end weightlifting barbell is the knurling pattern. Once again, the same exact style you’ll find on both of the bearing barbells. In my opinion, one of the best patterns on any barbell, but those who prefer aggressive knurling might not be thrilled at it because it falls into the shallow category. I’ve never found it to not have enough grip, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much, sweaty folk.

By far the most intriguing aspect of the Training bar is how well the bar rotates while using bronze bushings, much like you’d find in most of Rogue’s bars. Anyone that has ever owned a Rogue bar will tell you that though they’re fairly smooth, there’s always something left to be desired with how fast the sleeves spin. The Training bar is the exception – these sleeves spin like mad. When put up against my higher end Rogue WL bars, the Training bar out-spun my EU bar and was just slightly behind the NA bar. The only question this leaves me with is: “Why the hell don’t all Rogue bar’s spin like this?!”
I get it, spinning a sleeve and pulling under a clean are two very different things, but the real world performance is just as stunning as watching the sleeves spin. Having a bar that spins this smooth and fast really makes you doubt just how important bearing bars are for beginner to intermediate weights. The necessity to have bearings becomes more apparent when you’re trying to get under 400lbs, but for sub-300lb lifts, any smooth bushings that don’t get stuck should be fine.

Just FYI, I scored this bar from Rogue Fitness’ boneyard bar section for $245 before shipping and tax. One of the reasons I pulled the trigger on this bar is because it had center knurling on it, which I highly recommend if you’re in the market for a brand new barbell; they only offer it on the Chan, WL and EU bars. The Training bar came to me in new condition, with very, very minimal blemishes. This barbell for that price is an outstanding value and a no brainer if it pops up again. Most people will be paying the full $330 MSRP, and like previously mentioned, it looks like  you’re not getting much more than a standard Ohio bar. You’re just going to have to take my word for it when I say that for the money, the Training bar is probably the best bar that Rogue Fitness sells at the moment. Unless you’re not training the Olympic lifts, this bar is the one to get for weightlifting and even WOD’s.

I’m happy that I didn’t pull the trigger sooner on this bar because it was such a great deal, but I probably wouldn’t regret it if I had spent the full price on this bar either. For this price, you can either get a cheap-ish feeling import bearing bar or a high quality U.S. made Training bar. Personally, I would choose the latter.

You can get your Rogue Fitness Training Bar here!

American Barbell Performance Training Bar Review

 

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About a month ago, I had the opportunity to tour the American Barbell facility in San Diego, CA. I felt like a kid in a candy shop, everything you could want for your home gym, right there within arms reach. The workers there take a lot of pride in the equipment they produce, especially the ones that specialize in putting together the barbells. Let me be the first to tell you that American Barbell is looking to change the game with some of the bars they’re coming out with, and I can’t wait for everyone to see. I don’t think this is kind of thing is open to the public, but I know they do have warehouse sales, so you might want to take advantage of those if you can; you can score some insane deals on b-stock product.

I want to thank American Barbell for having me over, and best of all, I didn’t walk away empty handed!

If there was anything I took away from that visit, it’s that American Barbell products are some of the most refined in the industry. Everything is manufactured to high standards and the ones that aren’t, don’t get sold to the general public, no matter how small the defect. I managed to pick up a new, but B-stock Performance Training Bar where the only defect on it was a slight, and I mean slight error to the knurl. Most people wouldn’t even notice it, I had to look really hard to find it. Even still, there is no way that this could affect the performance of the bar or this review.

The Performance Training Bar is the same one they used at the last OC Throwdown. It fits into their Olympic weightlifting category, but should still do fine for multipurpose use nonetheless.  Like all current American Barbell bars, it uses a 28mm diameter, 190k PSI tensile strength shaft that is made in the USA. The Performance Training Bar uses composite bushings, but are much thicker than their more basic bars. It also has upgrades like recessed precision welded sleeves and a full coat of hard chrome throughout the bar. In their line-up, this would fall somewhere in the top-mid tier and would probably match up best with Rogue’s WL Training Bar or Vulcan’s Elite Bushing model.

Like all American Barbell bars, the performance is outstanding. Though the bar uses bushings for it’s rotation, they’re some of the smoothest I’ve ever used, with very light resistance that rivals bearing bars. You won’t get much free rotation out of them if you just spin the sleeve, but under load, you won’t ever have worry about a slow turn over – and that’s when it actually matters. The sleeves have very little play as well, leaving you with a very satisfying noise when dropped with weight.

All American Barbell bars seem to use the same light, but extremely fine cut knurl pattern. Be it weightlifting singles or high rep CrossFit WOD’s, it’s very comfortable to use and provides excellent grip for all but the sweatiest of hands. The hard chrome coating doesn’t provide as good a feel as the stainless models do, but a bit easier to hold on to than their zinc coated models, such as the California Bar. Chalk is going to be the easiest solution for your grip woes, but honestly, if you’re a fan of shark tooth knurling, you might not like American Barbell’s. How many people actually like getting their hands torn up though?

Where the Performance Training Bar absolutely shines is the amount of whip it has under moderate loads; most 190k, mid-range bars struggle in this area. It is true that it’s hard to use any oscillation, or even feel it, at beginner to intermediate weights, but it’s definitely still a factor. Stiff bars tend to hurt when you receive them, or even when they make contact. The Performance Training Bar feels very similar to it’s bigger brother, the SS Comp bar in this area. Movements feel very smooth, giving you one of the most fluid lifting experiences you could get with a mid-range training bar. You can really start to feel the bar react more dynamically around 100kg, and should only get better the heavier you lift. It even rivals some of my much more expensive bars, which I don’t even miss since getting the Performance Training Bar.

At $345, the Performance Training Bar’s closest competition comes in the form of the Rogue Training bar and the Vulcan Elite. I own the Rogue as well and it too is a fine training barbell; the spin is excellent, the whip is just slightly behind the American Barbell. The knurling is subjective, but personally I like the finer American Barbell knurl. Build quality is slightly in American Barbell’s favor, but both are great American made products. You can’t go wrong either way, but for me, I’d take the Performance Training Bar for it’s whip and knurl – but it’s really too close to call.

Most bearing bars in this price range are going to be pretty generic import ones. They might have sleeves that spin for days, but under real world lifting, you won’t even notice the difference between them and the smooth spinning American Barbell bushings. Not to mention most import barbell’s have sub-par build quality and uneven knurling.

For the money, the American Barbell Performance Training bar might be one of the best performance for dollar barbells. If you want a high performing barbell but don’t quite have the change to splurge on the SS Competition bar and don’t want to go the import route, the PT barbell offers up more than half it’s performance at less than half the cost.

Get your American Barbell Performance Training bar here!

Asics Lift Master Lite WL Shoe Review

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Asics is one of the oldest and well known names in shoes. While popular for their running shoes and fashion sneakers, Asics or Onitsuka have never really been known for their training gear.  It seems as if they’re starting to take the “cross-training” segment a little bit more serious with the releases of the Fortius, and earlier this year the Met-Conviction. Since weightlifting is such a huge component of cross-training nowadays, it would only make sense to come out with a “hybrid” Olympic lifting shoe as well.

One of the most sought after pairs of weightlifting shoes are the Asics 727 Tiger’s; you’ll mainly see the North Korean team still wearing them.  The allure of the 727’s are the tried and true materials they’re constructed with: leather and wood. That’s also probably why they’re so expensive and scarce. Most companies nowadays have already shifted towards more modern materials, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s a bad thing; it’s just different. We’re probably not getting the 727’s anytime soon, so Asics has taken their know how and created the Lift Master Lite’s.

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Looks/Construction:

Most weightlifters will probably scoff at the Lift Master Lite’s upon first glance.  They’re made with a synthetic leather upper, TPU heel, and in no way other than the Asics stripes, resemble the ever so famous 727’s. They resemble the original Reebok CrossFit Oly Lifters more than anything because of the heel and that the Asics logo kind of looks like the Reebok logo. I think the LML’s are a bit better looking because of the single piece upper construction and while I don’t think they’re ugly, but they’re definitely not as cool looking as the 727’s. I’d take leather and wood any day, but modern materials serve a purpose in not only keeping costs down, but keeping weight down as well. The Lift Master Lite’s only weigh in at 16.8 oz for a men’s 9, which put’s it right on par with the Nike Romaleos 2’s and Adipowers.

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Performance/Fit:

Asics seems to be marketing this shoe (what marketing?) as a hybrid training/weightlifting shoe, but to me they’re more of just the latter. Anything with an incompressible heel is going to be better suited for use on the platform and less for a WOD. The TPU heel found on the Lift Master Lite’s is just that, it’s made of solid TPU with rubber lining the bottom of the outsole; you can count on getting the most power out of every lift with the LML’s on. Comparing them to Nike Romaleos, the Asics aren’t quite as wide in the mid-foot area, but still provide excellent stability and grip during landings and squats. Superior to the Romaleos, is the spacious toe box; unlike the Nike’s, my toes don’t get all bunched up in the front. Probably the only thing that makes the Asics more of a hybrid shoe is that the toe area is much more flexible than your standard weightlifting shoe.

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Like the majority of the weightlifting shoes out there, the heel height is roughly .75″. I say roughly because on their US website, Asics rates the heel at .75″, but on foreign websites it states it as 17.5mm, or .69″.  To me, I don’t notice a difference unless I put a shoe of each height on each foot. What I definitely do notice is that the drop seems much more gradual in the Lift Masters than it does in the Romaleos. There isn’t any fancy lacing system, but the single medial strap does a great job locking the foot into place. The interior lining of the shoe is well padded and smooth so there isn’t any friction inside of the shoe. Overall, the Lift Master’s are a very comfortable pair of lifters.

Sizing stays true compared to most weightlifting shoes. Size half a size down from your normal training shoes if this is going to be your first pair. Basically size them as you would size your Converse Chuck Taylors. Weightlifting shoes should always be slightly tighter than your training shoes. For reference, these are my sizes:

  • 9.5 – Nike Metcon
  • 9 – Nike Romaleos
  • 10 – Reebok CF Nanos
  • 9 – Converse Chuck Taylors
  • 9 – Asics Lift Master Lite

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Asics has the Lift Master Lite’s at an MSRP of $140 and currently you can only find them on select shoe online resellers; on Amazon I’ve seen them as low as $100 though. For the MSRP, there’s a lot of tough competition seeing as how you can typically find Adipowers and Romaleos 2’s much cheaper than their MSRP’s nowadays. It’s going to be a hard sell since the Romaleos and Adipowers are the standards in weightlifting shoes. For $100, they’re far superior than anything else selling for that price point and it would be a no brainer.

The Lift Master Lite’s are excellent performing shoes and I think the worst part about them is the marketing Asics is doing. Most weightlifters are going to dismiss the shoe for being in the style of a hybrid shoe, whereas most crossfitters will dismiss it for not being Reebok, Nike or Adidas. It’s a shame that the Lift Master Lite’s probably won’t be used by more people because at the end of the day, they’re actually a very good performing pair of weightlifting shoes. If you’re looking for something a little different, or you just like the Asics name, you won’t be disappointed by the Lift Master Lite’s.

More Nike Romaleos 3 Leaked Images

Here are more higher res scans of the Nike Romaleos 3. Now we’re talking…

  • Looks to be as if there’s a marble type design to the heel. Looks pretty cool in my opinion. TPU material.
  • Synthetic leather upper with Flywire.
  • Interesting outsole honeycomb type tread pattern, probably more to help out with flexibility than grip.
  • 20mm Heel offset

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Source: Barbend.com

$300 CrossFit Barbell Buyer’s Guide

In this not so short video, I go over a few barbells that you should look into when shopping for your first barbell. All of these are under $300 (not including shipping/tax), which is a great price range to get a nice barbell, and perform excellent in their own rights. Some are better for weightlifting, some are mixed use, but all are great barbells that you could use for CrossFit in either the garage gym or affiliate atmosphere.