Gym Equipment

Barbell Collars – Everything You Need To Know

barbell collars

Barbell collars can very often be overlooked in a gym, many people think that they aren’t necessary so don’t tend to bother with them.  However, it’s important to use them each and every time you load any plates on to your bar.

What Are Barbell Collars

The primary purpose of barbell collars is to keep the weight plates from slipping off the barbell sleeve, providing an important safety feature when training. 

barbell clips

What’s more, the more plates you load on the barbell, the more important barbell collars become.  This is because the collars keep the plates secure at the end of the sleeves. 

Barbell collars are available in a range of materials, styles, and sizes and all of these factors depend on the brand that you’re using.  

Simply put, the collars are positioned at both ends of the barbell once the plates have been loaded on.  Depending on the type of the collars being used, the collars will automatically tighten around the end of the bar once released or they should be clipped into place to prevent any movement from the plates.  

Let’s consider the different types of barbell collars that you can choose from.  

The Different Types Of Barbell Collars

There are plenty of options to choose from whether you’re planning to buy a barbell collar for a garage gym or a commercial facility.  Below we have included a table to show the most common types of barbell collars along with any benefits and drawbacks.

Spring CollarsVery low cost.Can be difficult for some users to get on and off the bar.  Will become loose over time requiring regular replacement.  Can damage a  nickel or zinc plated sleeve.  They cannot be used on a number of specialty barbells.
Lockjaw CollarsVery easy to use.  Available for both Olympic and specialist bars.  Will not damage bar sleeves.  They offer a very secure fit compared to spring collars.Slightly more expensive than spring collars.
Spinlock CollarsLightweight, cheap and easy to useOnly available for standard barbells, are fiddly for loading and unloading.
Snap Clip CollarsSimilar to the strap bar collars but instead of wrapping them around they ‘snap’ around so very easy to use and quick.  Lightweight and will not damage bar collars.A little more expensive than spring and some lockjaw collars.
Muscle Clamp CollarsRelatively inexpensive.  Very easy to use and offer a very secure fit.  Will not damage or scratch bar sleeves.Have been known to pop open during lifts where a barbell is dropped (such as some Olympic lifts).
Proloc CollarsWill fit Olympic and specialty bars.  Very easy to use and inexpensive for collars that will last a long time.Slightly more expensive than other collar types.
OSO CollarsMade from aluminium these are very lightweight.  They offer a very secure fit.They are quite fragile so dropped your bar is not advisable.  More expensive than others available.
Competition Collars (sometimes known as weighted collars)Precise weight making them suitable for powerlifting and weightlifting competitions (hence the name).  Available in lbs and kg weight increments.  Very easy to use.More expensive than other collars.  Only suitable for use on Olympic barbells.

What Are The Most Common Types Of Barbell Collars

Spring collars are the most common type of collar around and they get their name from the spring-like construction that helps them produce force when they adhere to the bar.  Due to their inexpensive cost and ease of use, they are a popular choice for commercial gyms.

To use spring collars, apply pressure to the grips on each side of the spring collar to extend the diameter of the collar.  Once the diameter has widened, slide the collar over the barbell sleeve until it sits flush against the plates, then release the handle to secure the collar.

Barbell Spring Collars

While they are very light weight and cost effective, they can be tricky to use for people with poor grip strength.  

When the collars are new they offer a very secure fit keeping plates in place. However, over time they do become loose and require replacing quite often. 

If the diameter of the collar is not wide enough when placed onto the sleeve they can sometimes cause scratching which is not ideal, especially on more expensive barbells.

What Do Barbell Collars Weigh

The average weight of barbell clips can vary anywhere between 1lb and 5.5lbs per clip.  The difference in weight will depend on what type of collar you’re using.

Usually, competition or powerlifting collars weigh 5.5lbs each (2.5kgs).  They have to be a precise weight when being utilized in a competition environment and tend to accompany calibrated plates.

Olympic competition collars also tend to be slimmer than other collars so that the lifter can load more plates onto their barbell.

When it comes to the weight of other collars, this can vary quite significantly depending on the material they’re made from and the specific brand.

What Are Collars With Lifting Chains

Collars with lifting chains offer the same function as regular collars but have a heavyweight chain clipped on to each. The purpose of them is to provide the lifter with a progressive lift.

They tend to be used when bench pressing with each collar being positioned on your barbell sleeve in the normal way.  The long length of the chain means they start off by resting on the ground.

As the lifter un-racks the bar and begins to lower it to their chest, more of the chain is lowered to the floor thereby reducing its weight. As the lifter then pushes the bar back up the chain begins to leave the floor meaning that the combined weight of the bar becomes heaver the higher the bar is elevated.

If you fancy trying out collars with chains, here are some tips to get you started;

  • Make sure the chains are long enough to stay on the floor while you’re training. A chain length of around 6 feet would be suitable in most instances.
  • As the collars feature a chain, you slide them on to your bar exactly as you would with regular collars, but instead of them being located outside of the plates, they should be positioned on the inside. This keeps the weight of the chains closer to the center of gravity.
  • Once the chain collars are in place, you can then throw on some additional plates if you want to increase the weight load.
  • Once that’s done you’ll then need to secure the entire load with regular collars to prevent the plates from sliding on the sleeves.

People incorporate lifting chains into their workouts when they want to increase time under tension during their training or increase the intensity of their lifts.

How To Choose The Right Barbell Collars

First, you need to check the diameter of your barbell sleeves.  Olympic barbells feature rotating sleeves which are 50mm diameter (1.96 inches), but standard bars have non-rotating sleeves that are 25mm diameter (1 inch).

You’ll notice the difference between the two as Olympic barbells generally have larger diameter sleeves than the rest of the bar, whereas a standard bar is the same diameter the entire width of the bar. Click the link if you’d like to know more about the differences between an Olympic barbell VS a standard barbell.

Once you know the diameter of the sleeves then you can choose the correct collars that will fit your bar.

Should You Use Clips When Weightlifting

Yes, for safety you should always use collars when weightlifting. Without collars, your plates will likely slide outwards towards the end of the bar. This could cause instability when you’re lifting and, worse case scenario, slide off the bar completely.

It may be easy to overlook barbell collars but they play an important role and ensure your lifts remain safe during your training. So, any time you do anything with a barbell make sure you have some decent collars to hand!

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