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The Best Short Barbells For Home Use

Best short barbells for home use - Reviews - Title picture

I have very limited space for my home gym, which takes up roughly half of a small bedroom in my house. I like my full size barbells, but loading and unloading bumpers from a 7ft bar in a small space is cumbersome. 

Thankfully, “shorty” Olympic barbells came on my radar last year and I’ve spent a few months researching and testing a few options for permanent inclusion in my home gym.

Short Olympic bars come in several sizes, but I decided to only look at 6ft bars since this size offers the best compromise between compactness and usefulness.

Requirements

The majority of power racks are built to accommodate a standard 7ft barbell, which has about 52” of shaft length between collars. I don’t have a power rack, but I do have squat stands and I keep them roughly 49” apart. 

A short barbell needs to fit on my squat stands to use for squats, overhead presses, and bench presses, so the short barbell must be rackable. In other words, it has to have at least 49” of shaft length between collars. 

I also wanted a bar with a shaft diameter between 28-28.5mm, since that’s the range best suited for the mix of powerlifting and Olympic lifts I like to do.

The bar also needs to support at least 300lbs of weight. I’m not pulling or pressing that kind of weight yet, but I’m working on it and I need a bar I can make continual progress with. 

In summary, I needed a short bar that meets the following criteria:

  • Rackable, with at least 49″ bar length between collars
  • 28-28.5mm shaft diameter
  • At least 300lb max weight

I’ll wager I’m not the only one interested in a bar that meets these criteria, which is why I put together this article. There’s plenty of 6ft bars available, but surprisingly few that meet all three requirements. 

No worries though, I did the research so you don’t have to! After weeks of scouring the internet, reading through forums, and tracking down obscure product information, I managed to find a grand total of just five barbells that met all three requirements so far:

I have the first three, and I’ll add the other two when I’m able to get my hands on them.

So without further ado I present you with the best short barbells for home use!

Review summary

Brand

Specs

Rating

Buy

Fringe Sport 15kg Shorty Barbell

• 52" bar length

• 28mm bar diameter

• 15kg weight

• 400+lb rating

• 216K PSI 

• bronze bushings

• Dual markings

• Hard chrome finish

Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Five Stars

The "Premium" Option

GetRXd 70" Shorty Bar

GetRXd Shorty Bar

• 49" bar length

• 28mm bar diameter

• 35lb weight

• 400+lb rating

• 190K PSI 

• oversized bushing

• Dual markings

• Hard chrome finish

Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Four Stars

The "Mid-Tier" Option

CAP Ultra-Light Olympic Training Bar

CAP OB-73UL

• 50" bar length

• 28.5mm bar diameter

• 30lb  weight

250lb rating

• Black phosphate bar 

• Hard chrome sleeves



Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Three Stars

The "Budget" Option

Full reviews

What follows is a full review for each of the bars I’ve tested. For reference, I tested these bars with a 140kg set of Rogue competition bumper plates, which are the among the thinnest rubber bumper plates available.

Best short barbells for home use - Reviews - 140KG Competition Plates for Testing

The test plates – ain’t they purdy?

It’s probably also worth mentioning that none of these bars has a center knurl. 

Fringe Sport 15kg Shorty Bar Review

The Fringe Sport Shorty Bar is built to the same specs as the Fringe Sport Olympic Weightlifting Bar, but in a smaller package. It’s clear that Fringe Sport didn’t skimp on quality to make this short barbell, everything about it feels well made. 

Best Short Barbells for Home Use - Fringe Sport Shorty Bar Review - Size Comparison

Fringe Sport 15kg Shorty Bar size comparison to a regular Olympic bar

Specs

  • 52″ bar length
  • 28mm bar diameter 
  • 15kg weight
  • 400+lb weight rating
  • 216K PSI tensile strength
  • 4 bronze bushings per collar
  • Light knurl
  • Dual markings
  • Hard chrome finish

Fringe Sport’s Shorty Bar is different from every other short bar I’ve seen in one major way – it is spec’d at a full 52″ bar length, exactly the same as a regular 7ft bar. This is a big deal, because it makes the bar much more usable for Olympic lifts. 

You might be wondering how they did this. Well, they cut the length of the sleeves down a bit to add to the bar length, but I didn’t find the shorter sleeves to be a hindrance at all. I was able to fit the same amount of plates plus collar on this bar as the other two bars I tested. 

Best Short Barbells for Home Use - Fringe Sport Shorty Bar Review - Loaded Sleeves

Sleeve loaded with 60kg and a Lock-Jaw collar

This shorty bar is a true 15kg bar, which makes plate math easier for those of you lifting in kilos instead of pounds. 

The spiral ribbed sleeves spin smoothly and consistently and have no side-to-side play. Bumpers slide on and off easily, with almost no noise.

The light knurling is easy on the hands, which makes high-rep snatch/clean/jerk sessions easier. The hard chrome finish is great for corrosion resistance, but not so great for grip maintenance. The hard chrome combined with the light knurl means this bar is difficult to grip for heavy pulling lifts once my hands start sweating. 

Best Short Barbells for Home Use - Fringe Sport Shorty Bar Review - Knurling and Sleeve

A little bit of climbing chalk helps the grip tremendously, but I try to avoid using chalk at home if possible since it’s easy to make a mess with it. 

I would love to see this bar offered with a cerakote option for improved grip, although I doubt that will happen anytime soon since Fringe Sport doesn’t currently offer a cerakote coating on any of their bars. A slightly thicker knurl would also help, but could impact this bar’s usefulness for high-rep work.   

Best case scenario, I’d love to see a cerakote-coated shorty version of their Hybrid Bar, which is one of my favorite multi-use bars right now. 

I was only able to fit 264lbs of bumpers on this bar, which is more than enough for me right now. If you need more weight than this, you’re looking at using metal plates.

Thankfully, despite its size this bar has room to grow. The Shorty Bar can hold over 400lbs of weight if you use metal, so it should be usable by all but the most beastly of you out there. 

Best use

The Fringe Sport 15kg Shorty Bar is hands down the most versatile and well made short bar I could find. This bar is perfect for CrossFit-style WoDs and MetCons, Olympic lifts, and pressing lifts like squats, bench press, and overhead press. The light knurling and hard chrome finish are not ideal for heavy pulling lifts like deadlifts and rows, but the bar can still be used for pulls with a bit of chalk. 

 Buy The Fringe Sport Shorty Bar

 

GetRXd 70″ Shorty Bar Review

The GetRXd 70″ Shorty Bar is constructed with the same steel as the GetRXd WOD Bars, which are designed to take a beating. Although not explicitly stated in the product info, I confirmed with customer support that the Shorty Bar can be dropped while loaded. 

Best Short Barbells for Home Use - GetRXd Shorty Bar Review - Size Comparison

GetRXd 70″ Shorty Bar size comparison to a regular Olympic bar

Specs

  • 49″ bar length (48.75″ measured)
  • 28mm bar diameter
  • 35lb weight
  • 400+lb weight rating
  • 190K PSI tensile strength
  • 1 oversized oil-impregnated bushing per collar
  • Light knurl
  • Dual markings
  • Hard chrome finish

Of the four bars I found that met my criteria, this bar has the shortest distance between collars (48.75″ measured) and will not fit most racks from companies like Rogue Fitness or Fringe Sport, which typically have a distance between posts of 50″.

However, GetRXd does sell their own power racks with posts spaced 48″ apart. So, if you’re looking at this bar and want to use it with a rack, consider buying your rack from GetRXd as well. Another option is to do what I do and use squat stands spaced close enough together to fit the bar.

UPDATE – Rep Fitness also offers racks with a 48″ width between posts, so there are definitely rack options out there that will work with this bar.

The sleeves are completely smooth with no side-to-side play. The single oversized bushing in each sleeve provides an okay amount of spin, but if you plan to do a lot of Olympic style lifting you may want to look at the Fringe Sport shorty bar instead.  

Bumpers slide on and off easily, with very little noise.

Best Short Barbells for Home Use - GetRXd Review - Loaded Sleeves

Sleeve loaded with 60kg and a Lock-Jaw collar

Speaking of sleeves, one of the sleeves was damaged during transit and wouldn’t spin properly. I reached out to customer service and after sending them the information they requested that demonstrated the problem, they immediately sent me a replacement and paid for return shipping on the damaged bar.

It’s rarely a good thing to have to contact customer service, but when I do it’s very refreshing to have a frictionless and positive experience and I give GetRXd kudos for that. 

Getting back to the bar, the knurl is interesting because it feels like a progressive knurl – slightly sharper on the outside ring and more passive on the inside ring. This is not expressly listed as a feature, and customer service confirmed this isn’t an intentional part of the design, so your mileage may vary. 

Best Short Barbells for Home Use - GetRXd Shorty Bar Review - Knurling and Sleeves

Even so, the knurling is on the light side. Combined with a hard chrome finish, this makes the bar hard to hold for heavy pulls once the sweat flowing. This is a tradeoff that is to be expected when using a multi-purpose bar though, so I counter the slick grip with a bit of climbing chalk

I was only able to fit 264lbs of bumpers on this bar, which is plenty for me right now. If you need more weight than this, you’re looking at using metal plates. The bar can hold over 400lbs of weight if you use metal, so it should be usable for the vast majority of home lifters.  

Best use

The GetRDx 70″ Shorty Bar is the best compromise between size versus price versus performance. This bar is good for CrossFit-style WoDs and MetCons, and certain power lifts like squats, bench press, and overhead press, as long you have squat stands or a rack with a 48″ width between posts. This bar can also be used for heavy pulls, as long as you’re okay with using some chalk for adding grip to the light knurling and chrome finish. The sleeve spin is okay, but if you plan to do a lot of Olympic-style lifts with a short bar you’ll want the Fringe Sport Shorty instead.

 Buy The GetRXd 70″ Shorty Bar

 

CAP OB-73UL Review

The CAP OB-73UL, aka the Ultra-Light Olympic Training Bar, is an interesting product that doesn’t quite seem to know what it wants to be. It has the look and feel of a powerlifting bar, but doesn’t have the weight rating to back it up. It has ‘Olympic Training’ in the name, but is definitely not spec’d for Olympic lifting.

It’s an odd duck, but it does have its uses. 

Best Short Barbells for Home Use - CAP OB-73UL Review - Size Comparison

CAP Ultra-Light Olympic Training Bar size comparison to a regular Olympic bar

Specs

  • 50″ bar length (52″ measured)
  • 28.5mm bar diameter
  • 30lb  weight
  • 250lb rating
  • Medium knurl
  • Single markings
  • Black phosphate bar 
  • Hard chrome sleeves

The OB-73UL is a decent bar that I find myself using a lot. I like to deadlift and the black phosphate finish combined with a medium knurl make the bar easy to grip during deadlifts.

Best Short Barbells for Home Use - CAP OB-73UL Review - Knurling and Sleeve

What is most curious to me about this bar is the weight rating. Even though it looks and feels like a powerlifting bar, it’s only rated to hold 250lbs. Deadlifting over 250lbs is well within the range of achievability of most healthy people that train consistently, so the relatively low weight rating means this bar has a built-in limited lifespan of usefulness. 

When I originally bought this bar, the product specs listed the weight rating as 300lbs. If you’ll recall from the requirements section, 300lbs puts the bar right at the limit of acceptable criteria for inclusion in this review. However, CAP lowered the weight rating from 300lb to 250lb in the time between when I bought the bar and posted this review. Boo!

What’s even more confusing is their product website still says the bar will hold 300lbs, even though the specs on the same page clearly state 250lb. Why??

Best Short Barbells for Home Use - CAP OB-73UL Review - Contradicting Product Info

Taken straight from the product page ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

I don’t know which rating is correct, but I can verify this bar does hold at least 264lbs of weight. However, the bar had a very noticeable bend at this weight and given the inconsistency in ratings I would not recommend using this bar for any pressing or squatting lifts in excess of 250lbs. Better safe than sorry! 

The sleeves are grooved and finished in hard chrome. Unlike the other bars, sliding bumpers on and off the CAP bar produces a very irritating high-pitched metal-on-metal scraping.

I mention this in case you have pets or small children, since the sound really annoys my dogs and I have to be extra careful when using this bar.

There’s very little spin in the sleeves, and I noted a little bit of side-to-side play in them. Despite the inclusion of “Olympic Training” in the product name, this is not a bar you’ll be doing any Olympic lifting with.  

One last point worth mentioning is the bar length. The specs list the bar length as 50″, but it measures at 52″, just like the Fringe Sport Shorty. I have no idea why, I’m just going to chalk this discrepancy up to the same inconsistency in product details that resulted in two different weight ratings for this bar. 

Best use

The CAP Ultra-Light Olympic Training Bar is the budget beater bar of the bunch. It’s good for “light” powerlifting, which is admittedly an oxymoron, but it is what it is. Use it for basic home gym lifting like bench press, squats, overhead press, deadlifts, and rows. In other words, this is a perfect bar for a Stronglifts 5×5 type workout, at least till you work up to 250lbs. I don’t recommend this bar for dynamic lifts like Olympic cleans and jerks, since the sleeve spin is just not there for it and the medium knurling will probably tear up your palms. 

 Buy The CAP Ultra-Light Olympic Training Bar

Other bars considered

The list below documents bars I considered for inclusion, but ultimately rejected for not meeting the criteria I defined above. 

Rogue C-70 Bar

The Rogue C-70 Bar looks like a solid bar with great specs, battle tested at the CrossFit Games. This bar only measures 43″ between sleeves, meaning it can’t be used with a rack. 

CAP Barbell Olympic 2-Inch Solid Chrome Bar

The CAP Solid Chrome Bar is a sibling of the OB-UL72 bar included in the review, but rated up to 300lbs and finished with hard chrome. However, it only measures 36 1/2″ between sleeves, meaning it can’t be used with a rack.

Hampton 6′ International Bar

The Hampton 6′ International Bar is actually rackable with 51″ between sleeves. However, at 30mm the bar diameter is outside the sweet spot range of 28-28.5mm.

York 6′ Strength Training Bar

York makes a line of basic strength training bars finished in either hard chrome or black oxide. I couldn’t find a definitive spec for how much length the 6′ bar has between sleeves, but I did note the bar diameter is 30mm, outside the sweet spot of 28-28.5mm.  

Wrap up

All three of the bars reviewed pack a lot of punch into a small package, and which one you go with will obviously depend on your needs and the compromises you’re willing to live with. Personally, I’ve found a 6ft bar to be the perfect addition to my limited space home gym and I would recommend any of these bars with the caveats I mentioned in the full reviews. 

I’ll leave you with one last picture, comparing the sleeves of all three bars to each other and to a full size Olympic bar. 

Best short barbells for home use - Reviews - Size Comparisons

Top to bottom: full size bar, Fringe Sport Shorty, GetRXd Shorty, CAP OB-73UL

Do you have any questions I didn’t cover or suggestions for other bars I may have overlooked? Drop me a line in the comments below!

About the Author Mario

I'm a software engineer with a full-time job, family, and a desire to stay strong, mobile and fit. I separate fact from fiction to find the most effective and affordable home fitness options and pass the knowledge on to you. Want to know more?

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