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 weight on to your bar.
The primary purpose of barbell collars is to keep the weight plates from slipping off the barbell sleeve, so they provide an important safety feature when training. Because they prevent the plates from sliding, they also ensure the weight load remains evenly split. This becomes more important with the more weight you are lifting.
Barbell collars are available in a range of materials, styles and sizes and all of these factors depend on the brand you are using. Each style tend to offer there own benefits so continue reading to find out more.
HOW TO SECURE WEIGHTS ON A BARBELL?
The collars are straightforward devices that tightly encircle the sleeve of your bar and firmly secure the plates preventing any movement.
In respect of securing the collars to the bar, this very much depends on the kind of collars that you are using.
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.
|BARBELL COLLAR TYPE||BENEFITS||DRAWBACKS|
|Spring collars||Very 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 speciality barbells.|
|Lockjaw collars||Very 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 Collars||Lightweight, cheap and easy to use||Only available for standard barbells, are fiddly for loading and unloading.|
|Snap Clip Collars||Similar 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 collars||Relatively 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 collars||Will fit Olympic and speciality bars. Very easy to use and inexpensive for collars that will last a long time.||Slightly more expensive than other collar types.|
|OSO Collars||Made 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 SPRING COLLARS USED FOR?
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, move the collar over the bar until the metal is flush on the plates, then release the handle to secure the collar.
Whilst they are very light weight they can be tricky to use for people with smaller hands and those 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.
HOW MUCH DO BARBELL COLLARS WEIGH?
When it comes to the weight of barbell collars this very much depends on what type of collar you are using.
Usually, Olympic collars weigh 2.5kg each (5.5lbs). It is necessary for them to be a specific weight as they are used in a competition environment where every kg or lb counts. Olympic competition collars also tend to be slimmer than other collars to enable the user to get more plates on to their barbell.
When it comes to the weight of other collars, this can vary quite significantly depending on the material they are made from and the brand.
WHAT ARE COLLARS WITH LIFTING CHAINS
These are a type of barbell that feature a heavy link chain and the purpose behind them is to provide the user with a progressive lift. They are commonly used when bench pressing with each collar being positioned on your barbell sleeve in the normal way. The length of the chain means part of it will rest on the floor.
As a person unloads the weight and bring it down to their chest, more of the chain is lowered to the floor thereby reducing its weight. As the user 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.
- Make sure the chains are long enough to stay on the floor while you’re working out. A chain length of around 6 feet is ideal.
- As the collars feature a chain, you simply place them on to your bar exactly as you would with regular collars.
- Once the chain collars are in place, additional weight can be added outside of them.
- Once you have loaded on any additional weight, you will then need to secure the entire load with regular collars to prevent any slipping.
- Finally, it’s better to attach the chains to the bar’s far end for this workout. The chains will not bunch up beneath the weights as a result of this.
People incorporate lifting chains into their workouts when they want to increase time under tension during their training or simply increase the intensity of the exercise.
SELECTING THE RIGHT BARBELL COLLAR
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 barbells 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 barbell is the same diameter the entire width of the bar
Once you know the diameter of the sleeves then you can choose the correct collars that will fit your bar.
DO YOU NEED BARBELL COLLARS?
Yes, your plates will likely slide outward on your barbell sleeve without collars. If that happens, then you run the risk of having a bar with weight being uneven on either side which could cause instability during your lift. It’s important that the weight remains as close to you as possible and collars will ensure they stay put.
If you are lifting a significant amount of weight, an uneven lift could mean plates completely slide off the bar which could result in injury to either yourself or others around you.
Whilst barbell collars may seem small and pretty insignificant they provide safety during your training so any time you do anything with a barbell make sure you have some decent collars to hand.