Thursday 160218

4 Rounds for time:
Run 600 Meters
25 Kettlebell swings, 53#(35#)
20 Burpee box jumps

Post times to comments and BTWB

Say what?

Say what?


The great 33 pound barbell vs 35 pound barbell debate. . . . put to rest By Courtney Shepherd and J Burgeson of Garage Gyms (Click here for article)

A while back Verve had a member that unfortunately had to leave and started up a membership at a different gym. This member’s move to a new gym was brought on by a personal move to a new city and the desire to not commute to Verve. This member did however, on occasion, drop in to Verve when they were in the area. I asked, “How’s the new gym working out?”. They responded with, “It’s great. I really like it. Plus they don’t do some of the really weird things you guys do here.” My interest has officially been piqued. Weird? At Verve? What could we possibly do at Verve that seems weird in comparison to another CrossFit gym? I’m glad I asked. . . 

“Well like that whole 33 pound barbell thing you guys do here. . . you know where we have to put the 1 1/4 plates on the bars. Well at my new gym they just have 35 pound bars. So it’s really nice to not have to deal with that.”

Cricket. . . . cricket. . . . cricket.

That is not the first, nor would it end up being the last, time I have heard there be confusion about women’s barbells and how much they weigh. And for a long time I’ve just smiled and nodded, however, it just seems like right now would be a good time to address the subject. . . you know with the open coming up and all. . . I wouldn’t want anyone to be concerned about what weight they may or may not be lifting. 

A lesson in barbells:

Barbells can differ in length, diameter, knurling, weight, and intended use. I will discuss 2 very specific types of barbell, one of which you see on a regular basis and use on a regular basis. I’m referring to the Olympic lifting barbell and the powerlifting barbell. There is a difference between these 2 barbells, and the differences are subtle. Powerlifting is a pure strength sport. Powerlifting involves three lifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Powerlifting is more about moving the absolute maximum weight possible. A powerlifting barbell differs from an Olympic barbell in that it is more stiff or rigid in order to better accommodate the heavier weights. While a powerlifting bar is generally the same dimensions of the Olympic bar, it can also be both longer and/or thicker to allow for more weight to be added. 

Olympic Weightlifting involves a lifter attempting a maximum-weight single rep in either the snatch or the clean and jerk.  Olympic lifting is more of a test of an athletes explosive strength rather than raw lifting power. Olympic barbells have a couple unique characteristics. First is the whip (the ability to store elastic energy) of the bar. Professional athletes can use this flexing of the bar to their advantage during a lift. Olympic bars must also have smooth rotating sleeves. This allows the lifter to get under the bar quickly without having to release their grip. Finally, the quality of Olympic bars is such that they have to withstand repeated drops from overhead positions.

So just from these descriptions, you can see that for the CrossFitter, the athlete built on broad, general, and inclusive, it would be best to utilize an Olympic barbell because it can be used for all weightlifting movements. 

Let’s talk barbell dimensions:

A men’s Olympic barbell is 2.2 meters long (7.2 feet) and weights 20 kilograms (about 44 pounds). The outer sleeves are 49-50 mm thick, and the shaft is 28-29 mm (1.1 inch) thick and makes up 1.31 (4.3 feet) meters of the total length of the bar.

The women’s Olympic barbell is slightly shorter at 2.1 meters long (6.9 feet) and weighs 15 kilograms (roughly 33 pounds). The shaft is also slightly thinner at 25 mm thick (.98 inches). Women’s Olympic bars do not have center knurling.

These dimensions are standard dimensions for ALL Olympic lifting barbells. Meaning, that if a CrossFit gym were to go to Rogue, Elekio, Pendlay, etc. and order an Olympic barbell, they would be looking at 15kg women’s bars and 20kg men’s bars. Since we all agree men’s bars are 45 pounds, we will stop talking about them.

Verve’s history and why we have 1 1/4 plates:

In 2011, when CrossFit first introduced the Open, before all the details were announced, some of the information provided noted that participants needed access to 35 pound bars. Knowing that we at Verve had 15kg (33#) bars we purchased several sets of 1 1/4 plates in order to be compliant with the needs of the Open. We spoke with many gyms around us asking them what they planned to do because the 15kg barbell is the common piece of equipment carried. As it turned out, CrossFit made it clear that the 15kg barbell was considered to weigh 35 pounds for competition purposes. A concept that has been standard since. The 1 1/4 plates have not been required to be added to any female barbell during any CrossFit competition. So why do we still carry them? Because they are an increment of weight that can be added to a bar like any other. Going for a 1RM shoulder press? 2 1/2 pounds can be just enough to get you the PR without getting the fail. 

So what’s my point:

Well, I was not entirely honest about going to certain websites and only finding 15kg barbells. As it turns out, I did a little research, and both Elekio and Pendlay offer a 35 pound barbell. It is very clearly marked on the collars as a “35 lbs” bar. They are listed separately from the women’s 15kg Olympic barbells. Rogue does not carry a 35 pound bar. Also GetRXed, the equipment site Verve recently purchased women’s barbells from, does not carry 35 pound bars. Both of these websites only offer 15kg barbells. Making my point to you that every barbell at Verve is a 15kg barbell, or approx 33 pounds. However, they are considered to be 35 pounds during competition, including the Open and the CrossFit Games. During Olympic lifting meets it would just be considered 15kg because they only use kg for their weighing purposes. My other point to you is, unless the owners of other CrossFit gyms went out of their way to seek out a 35 pound barbell, they most likely have 15kg bars. . . .  meaning that they all do the same weird crap we do. Sorry. 

Not sorry.

**Verve move update**

Wednesday February 24th Verve will have it’s usual 5:30am-7:30am classes and then it will close for the remainder of the day. There will be no open gyms, no afternoon or evening classes. We will be moving equipment to the new facility all day. Wanna help? Stop by, we will put you to use.


  1. Gabi :

    So is the ladies kettle bell actually 35 lbs or do I need to add anything to it?? Real annoying….

  2. Kacey :

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS BLOG POST!!! LOL. You have no idea how many times I’ve had this conversation with people and they don’t believe me. I’m like, here, let me get you a calculator…

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