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Whether you own a commercial gym or have your own home gym you’ve probably got a barbell or two. When it comes to Olympic bars and specialty bars, they can be quite a costly investment, so you’ll want to know how to store barbells to maximise their life, improve gym safety and keep them in great condition.
In this article we’ll look at ways of maintaining your barbell along with some storage options helping you to keep your bar in tip top condition.
- Recommended Reading – What is Barbell Knurling And How It Helps Your Training
Do Barbells Need Maintenance?
If you want to get the most life out of your barbell, then maintenance is key. Below we address a number of factors that may, over time, affect the quality of your bar and how to address them.
Temperature And Humidity
Humidity is to be expected in environments where people are working out, whether that’s at your local gym or in your own garage gym. High humidity levels can result in corrosion to your barbell.
It’s worth noting that how quickly your bar rusts will depend on the coating used over the bare steel.
For stainless bars, the likelihood of corrosion developing is significantly reduced. Most other barbells feature a coating such as zinc, nickel or ceramic. This coating protects the bare steel underneath.
However, over time, if your bar is scratched or the coating wears away, this leaves the steel underneath open to the elements, meaning it will likely start to rust.
If you want to reduce the likelihood of your barbells rusting aim to improve the ventilation in your gym. To preserve the coating of your barbell, it’s a good idea to use storage that features plastic lining. This means that there is no metal-on-metal contact between your bar and the storage unit, making it far less likely to suffer from scratches.
Magnesium carbonate, popularly known as gym chalk, is widely used during strength training. It soaks up the moisture on hands, allowing the user to have a better grip of a loaded bar.
However, whilst chalk has its advantages, it can be messy. The build-up of chalk can accumulate on the barbell, especially in the knurling. Over time, this chalk build up absorbs humidity which can then oxidise and corrode the surface of your bar.
If you use chalk when lifting, be sure to clean it thoroughly afterwards. A wire brush is often recommended. However, these can be very abrasive so opt for a softer bristle brush as this will be sufficient for removing chalk debris and is much kinder to your barbell.
- Recommended Reading – Understanding The Differences: A Guide To The Barbell vs Dumbbell
Dirt, Debris, and Germs
Atmospheric dirt, as well as dead skin cells, slough off as debris collects on the metal. Even in the case of coated barbells, the dirt can damage the protective layer, thereby increasing the risk of rusting.
Sweat is also a contributing factor to rust build up on bars that have a poor-quality coating or have suffered some surface scratches leaving the bare metal exposed. Sweat, of course, also contributes to increased germs and bacteria.
Be sure to properly clean your barbell after use to remove both dirt and bacteria. Consider the best cleaning products to ensure you don’t damage your bar and effect the coating as some cleaning materials can cause coating such as zinc to break down.
Barbells are designed to withstand heavy loads and can be put under a lot of stress with repeated dropping to the ground and slamming into squat racks but poor storage can put unnecessary stress onto the bushings or bearings within a barbell sleeve.
Get into the habit of regularly checking your bar over and make sure the sleeves rotate smoothly.
How To Properly Clean A Barbell
Adequately cleaning a barbell is an essential part of its maintenance. Here’s how to do it:
Cleaning the Bar
● After every workout, make sure to use a dry cloth to remove dust and chalk. Use an appropriate anti-bacterial cleaner that won’t damage or corrode the barbell’s coating.
● As mentioned above, chalk can accumulate into the grooves of the knurling and other small gaps. This build up can damage the bar’s surface and cause corrosion. Use a nylon bristle brush to safely remove this build up from the bar.
It’s a common misconception that barbells need regular oiling of the shaft, sleeves and collars. Barbells usually have a coating that negates the need of oiling the shaft and collars.
In the case of the stainless-steel barbells, these have a very high tolerance to rust and oiling would offer no benefit. For bars coated with nickel, zinc, or ceramic, whilst the coating can wear over time (oiling of the shaft and sleeves won’t offer any distinct benefits. It’s worth noting that the rate of wear would depend on the finish. Typically zinc, as a sacrificial finish, would wear the fastest.
Depending on whether the collars of your barbell are manufactured with a bushing or bearing would depend on whether you need to oil it allowing for frictionless rotation of the sleeve.
How To Store A Barbell
There are a range of barbell storage solutions on the market, and depending on your gym lay out and the space you have available could impact how you decide to store your bars. Before we look at the different types of bar storage, there are some best practices you can adhere to for storing your barbells.
● After cleaning your bar aim to store it in a cool, dry place.
● Keep it off the ground to avoid any potential for accidents and injury.
● To reduce the chances of damage, don’t store the bar loaded up with weight plates.
Now we have some simple guidelines to follow, let’s look at some of the best barbell holders taking into consideration the space you have and how many barbells you need to store away.
Horizontal barbell storage tends to be favoured over vertical storage. This is because storing the bar on both sleeves of your barbell means the weight is being equally distributed with less force being placed on one end. Whilst horizontal bar storage is OK for standard straight bars and Olympic barbells it’s not the best for specialty bars such as trap bars or curl bars which have a more awkward shape.
Gun Rack Barbell Storage
A bar gun rack is a great option if you have limited floor space but several bars to store away. Typically, comprising of two brackets that are fixed to the wall and capable of holding from 5 to 10 barbells. Some can be fixed vertically as well as horizontally to your wall. If you have expensive barbells, consider one with plastic inserts as this will stop metal on metal wear protecting your bar from scratches.
Squat Rack Storage
If you’re really pushed for both wall and floor space but have a squat rack, you could simply keep your barbell on your rack. But remember to remove your plates once your done with your training.
Wall Mounted Storage Hooks
If you have fairly low-cost bars but just need to get them up off of your floor, a simple solution is to purchase a few storage hooks and get them fixed to the wall so you position your bar horizontally. Certainly, a no-frills solution but effective nonetheless. This option would be better suited to home and garage gyms.
Freestanding Horizontal Barbell Rack
Probably better suited to a commercial gym environment that has more space and more bars to store, these tend to be the most heavy duty.
- Recommended Reading – A Guide To Speciality Barbells
Vertical storage for your barbells is available as either wall mounted or floor-based bar holders. Floor based holders tend to be the best barbell storage racks for both standard bars, Olympic bars and specialty bars.
Wall Mounted Barbell Rack
A barbell holder that can affixed to the wall in a horizontal position and hold anywhere from 1 to 12 barbells in a vertical position.
Lockable Barbell Rack
A lockable barbell rack is the best option for a commercial gym with several high value barbells. It’s fixed to the wall and features a unique lock allowing each of the five barbells to be safely locked away when not in use.
- Recommended Product – Lockable Barbell Rack
Vertical Bar Holder
A vertical barbell storage rack can be located anywhere suitable on the floor of your gym and can be used to store all types of barbells, even short bars and specialty bars. Some are available in a range of different colours and can accommodate from 3 to 9 barbells at any one time.
- Recommended Product – Vertical Bar Holder
Points To Consider When Storing Your Barbell
If you’re a gym owner and your barbells are of a high value consider a lockable device that will keep your bars safe when they’re not being used.
When fixing any barbell racks to the wall be sure to use the right mounting hardware and ideally fix to a concrete wall.
For expensive barbells, consider using bar storage that offers plastic as a way of protecting the bar sleeves.
Wherever you store your barbell, make sure it’s free of weight plates to reduce bending of the bar.
Don’t keep your barbell on the floor. It’s suggested the ground is the most humid part of the room which can mean your bar will rust, this is incorrect. Humidity levels are generally higher at the top of a room which is why damp generally forms at the top of walls and on ceilings. By storing your barbell on the ground simply makes it a trip hazard!
Barbells are an essential component when working out whether in your home or local gym and many don’t come cheap. Taking proper care of your barbell will ensure you get many years of trouble free use out of it.
When it comes to storage, not only can this impact the life of your bar, it’s an important health and safety consideration so take the points mentioned in this article and factor them in when deciding how best to store your barbells.