No gym is complete without an Olympic weight set (the combination of Olympic barbell and weight plates). These monuments to human ingenuity and our desire to lift heavy shit as a means of getting strong allow you to complete a ton of different exercises: Exercises that will have a seriously beneficial effect on both your physical and mental health.
Check online and you’ll find a vast collection of Olympic barbell & weight plate packages available. But, which is the best Olympic weight set for you and your set up? What are the differences between them? How do you recognize a great deal when they often seem so similar?
In this article, we’ll take a look at the best Olympic weight sets currently on the market. We’ll provide a rundown of each one and why you should or shouldn’t pick it. After the reviews, we’ll also go through the general information you need to help choose the best option for you. Then, we’ll finish off by answering some frequently asked questions about Olympic weight sets.
The Best Olympic Weight Sets
1. Rogue Bravo Bar & Bumper Set
Rogue Fitness offers the best option in Olympic weight sets, with some of the highest quality barbells on the market. The price might seem a little steep for a weight set, but the investment is absolutely worth it.
The Bravo Bar and Bumper Set includes an Ohio bar, which is one of the best all-around bars in the market. I know because I have one. It’s a red Cerakote Ohio Bar and it rocks.
All of Rogue’s bars comes with a lifetime warranty against bending or breaking, which gives you a handy guarantee on how good they really are.
You will most likely never use the warranty because it’s almost impossible to bend or break this bar through regular, non-crazy-Powerlifting use.
For all the Valkyries out there that love to lift, you can also get a 15kg Bella Bar with the Bravo Set.
The bumper plates are the Rogue HG 2.0 Bumpers, which are another top quality product. They’re nice and accurate, with only a 1% difference from the declared weight (i.e., ‘weight tolerance’). They also have a low bounce, and a jet black finish that makes them look slick.
Overall, if your budget allows it, the Rogue Bravo Bar & Bumper Set is hands down the best Olympic weight set you can buy for your home gym.
- Top quality barbell and bumper plates
- Comes with collars, so you don’t have to buy those separately
- Lifetime warranty on the barbell (bending and manufacturer defects)
- Limited warranty on the bumper plates
- One of the more expensive Olympic weight sets
2. XMark Deadlift Voodoo Package
XMark does a solid job with this Olympic weight set, offering an excellent quality package for a very similar price to Rogue’s Bravo Bar and Bumper Set. This set may look very similar to the Bravo Set, however what you’ll be getting is actually quite different.
The Voodoo bar a quality all-purpose barbell that will meet the needs of most home gym lifters, but it’s no Ohio or Bella Bar. It has a tensile strength of 185K PSI, and comes with a black manganese phosphate finish on the shaft, and hard chrome on the sleeves. While it doesn’t match the quality of Rogue’s barbells, it is a great bar in it’s own right and perfect for anyone looking to lift on something of a budget (it usually costs less than $200 on its own).
While the Voodoo bar may not be as good as Rogue’s offering, Xmark’s Hi-Impact bumpers are arguably better than Rogue’s HG 2.0s. They’re made with good quality virgin rubber to IWF standards. They’ve got a slimmer profile than most competitor’s bumpers, as well as a premium stainless steel insert. The colored, contrast lettering gives them a great look and makes them easier to differentiate
Keep in mind that XMark’s warranty is limited to 90-days on the Voodoo bar, which can’t compare to Rogue’s lifetime warranty. The warranty on the bumpers, however is the same 3 years for residential use, and 1 year for commercial use. Also, this Olympic weight set does not come with barbell collars – you must get your own. Check out the best options for both clamp collars and spring collars here.
All-in-all the XMark Deadlift Voodoo Package is an excellent alternative to Rogue’s offer. The Voodoo bar has a great rep as lower priced all-purpose bar, and the premium Hi-Impact bumpers are both durable and stylish.
- Excellent quality, good looking bumper plates
- Good quality barbell, albeit from the cheaper end of the market
- 90-day warranty on barbell
- Also one of the more expensive Olympic weight sets (on account of the bumpers)
3. REP Weight Set with Black Bumpers
If your budget is tight, but you need to upgrade your standard weight set or want to start with an Olympic weight set, then Rep Fitness has you covered.
Rep Fitness offers the best value option among Olympic weight sets. It might not be the highest quality in the market, but it’ll absolutely get the job done for an excellent price. And, it’s far from the lowest quality set up on the market.
The barbell options here are great: You can get the zinc-coated Saber bar, which is a great all-purpose bushing bar (leaning toward power bar), or the chrome Gladiator bar, which is a highly regarded Weightlifting bar (5 needle bearings per sleeve). Both are available in 15kg and 20kg variants.
This makes Rep’s Olympic weight set a great option for both men and women who may be just getting started in either Powerlifting or Weightlifting.
We’ve previously reviewed Rep’s black bumper plates and put them at the top of the list in our wrap up the best bumpers for your home gym. They’re extremely well-made with good quality rubber and hooked stainless steel inserts. The 10s are slightly thicker and stronger than most competitors, while the 45s are thinner than most and allow for greater sleeve loading. You can get anywhere from 160 lbs. of bumpers to 370 lbs.
Rep Fitness’ Olympic weight set with black bumpers is arguably the best value choice. Please bear in mind, however, that Rep never offer free shipping, so this must be added to your cost comparison.
- Option of a good all-purpose / power bar, or a great WL bar
- Great quality bumpers
- You can get this Olympic weight set for less than $500
- Chrome Gladiator Bar is the only option at the moment – would have liked to see the stainless steel variant also available.
4. Fringe Sport Bar + Contrast Bumper Set
Fringe Sport bar and contrast bumper package is a genuine contender for the best Olympic weight set for a home gym, offering a high-quality bar and plates with top-notch manufacture.
There are three barbell options for inclusion with Fringe’s handsome Contrast Bumper Plates, all of which come in 15kg or 20kg variants:
- Black zinc-plated Wonder Barbell (bronze bushings)
- Black zinc-plated Bomba V2 Barbell (bronze bushings), or;
- Matte Chrome Fringe Weightlifting Bar (4 needle bearings per sleeve)
Much like the Rep set above this Olympic weight set caters to all types of lifters – from pure Powerlifters to CrossFit enthusiasts to Oly lifters.
The Bumper plates are excellent too: The contrast of the colored lettering on the black rubber gives them a unique and stylish look, and helps you to quickly differentiate between plates. These contrast bumpers have also recently been upgraded, with Fringe adding a hooked steel insert to shore up their durability. And, with a weight tolerance of within 1% of the declared weight these plates shape up to be superb quality.
Deciding between Fringe Sport’s Olympic weight set and the ones lifted above is a tough call and will largely depend on the type of lifting you do. Budding Olympic lifters are likely to find more value in this or the Rep Fitness offerings than either of the Rogue Bravo or Xmark Voodoo sets.
A couple of things to consider in making your choice:
- The Bomba V2 Bar is the only barbell option that’s made in the US. That’s not important to everyone, but to some it is.
- Like everyone except Rogue, Fringe offer a limited warranty on their barbells (1 year against bending)
- Extensive range of barbells to choose from
- Fringe’s contrast bumpers are excellent
- SuperStrap collars included
- Limited warranty on barbells, only one of which is US-made
5. Xmark Crowbar & Go Green Bumper Set
Rounding out the list is another bar and bumper set from Xmark. The 7’ Crowbar is one of the barbells that’s helping Xmark establish themselves as a serious player in the strength training industry. With it’s 185K PSI tensile strength, black manganese phosphate finish on the shaft and chrome on the sleeves it’s been compared to Rogue’s flagship Ohio bar. A big call indeed.
At 44 lbs the Crowbar is a touch under 20kg, and so not made to IPF standards. Nevertheless, it’s a great Powerlifting / all-purpose bar owing to the 28.5mm shaft diameter and relatively aggressive knurl.
The bumpers that come in this set are a variation of Xmark’s Hi-Impact plates called Go Greens. They’re made from recycled car tyres, and their particular manufacturing process gives them a higher bounce than any of the bumpers in the sets above (including Xmark’s other Hi-Impacts). So, while they’re still top quality bumpers that are highly durable and can be dropped from shoulder height and above, they’ll pop up a little higher than you may be used to. Just something to be aware of.
Overall, you’ll be paying similar $ / lb for this Xmark Crowbar and Go Green Bumper Set as you will for the others in the list, but if a good quality power bar and unique bumpers appeals to you, it’s worth looking into.
- Xmark’s Crowbar is a good power bar with a good reputation
- Go Green bumpers are durable as any others you’ll find on the market
- Huge weight range available
- No collars included – Purchase separately
- Crowbar not to IPF specs
Should You Get a Olympic Weight Set?
We’re going to assume that if you’re looking at buying an Olympic weight set it means you’re serious about strength training. Good for you!
Because we’re assuming you’re serious, our list includes only good quality bar and plate sets. None of that cheap junk that other reviewers are flogging. Sure, you can get a 300 lbs. Olympic bar and plate set for half the price of the ones above, but the barbell will be junk and the plates will be poorly cast and have a high weight tolerance.
Even if you’re a beginner with no previous experience, buying an Olympic weight set is a solid choice for your lifting progress. The advantages that Olympic barbells provide over standard barbells outweighs the price difference.
And, if you do go with a standard bar and plates, and end up lifting in the 160 lbs.+ range, you will eventually upgrade from a standard weight set to an Olympic one anyway. This is because good Olympic weight sets are made for purpose, whereas standard sets are made as cheaply as possible to maximize profit. You’re better off saving yourself the money now, and getting an Olympic set at the outset.
Assuming you’re ready to make the better investment and get an Olympic set, the main decision you need to make is what kind of lifting you’ll be doing; Weightlifting, Powerlifting, CrossFit-style lifting, or a combination of the above. This will help you choose the right weight set for you.
Choosing the Right Olympic Weight Set
With so many options on the market, and lifting being more nuanced than many people realise, it’s helpful to have some guidance in choosing the best Olympic barbell set for your intended purpose.
The Olympic Barbell
When buying an Olympic weight set always start with the barbell. This is the cornerstone piece of equipment. Different bars are made for different kinds of lifting. The key elements of the best barbell for your intended purpose is the knurl, whip, and sleeves.
The slow, heavy Powerlifts necessitate a more aggressive knurl on the barbell you choose. You must have a solid grip on the barbell in order to complete heavy deadlifts, for example.
The dynamic forms of lifting in Olympic Weightlifting and high-rep CrossFit exercises require a less aggressive knurl in order to minimize damage to the palm of your hand. Olympic barbells will often have a standard or passive knurl, as will all-purpose bars, which are best for garage gym and WOD lifting.
This refers to the rigidity of the bar. Power bars (for Powerlifting) will generally have little or no whip (i.e., be ‘stiff’). When lifting heavy, you don’t want any of your force production to be lost in the flexing of the bar. All-purpose bars should have good whip, while you’ll want great whip in a Weightlifting bar.
The spin of the sleeves will be created either by bushings or bearings. The sleeves on Weightlifting bars need to have considerable spin in order to prevent the turning over of the shaft on dynamic lifts to cause damage to your hands and wrists. As such, good Weightlifting bars will always have bearings in the sleeves. Good bronze or composite bushings are fine for Powerlifting and all-purpose bars.
The Olympic Weight Plates
Again, depending on your goals and the types of lifting you intend to do, your options for appropriate weight plates are narrowed down.
In some Olympic lifts, you typically drop the bar from overhead. Therefore, you’ll need weight plates that can resist those drops. Rubber bumper plates are your only option here. Rubber coated plates or steel / cast iron plates is risky as dropping them from height could damage both the plates and your bar, and wreak havoc on your flooring. Plus it’s noisy as shit.
Steel / cast iron Olympic weight plates and rubber-coated plates are fine if you’re only doing powerlifting movements.
Finally, Olympic weight sets can be very expensive. If you’re strapped for cash, the investment of a high-quality set might scare you, but always remember that you get what you pay for.
Buying a cheap set for less could cost more in the long run, especially if you get a dud barbell. If you’re looking for a place to save cash, the plates is where you should do it, not the barbell. The barbell is never the place to scrimp. The recommendation here is to buy a good quality barbell, and then pick up some affordable weight plates separately.
Frequently Asked Questions About Olympic Weight Sets
What is an Olympic weight set?
An Olympic weight set is the term given to bundles that include an Olympic Barbell and a set of Olympic Weight plates. The purpose of these sets is to give users a solid choice to either start weight lifting or upgrade their existing equipment.
The term Olympic weight sets is often confusingly used interchangeably with weight plate sets, which only include the weight plates (steel / iron or rubber bumpers). In this article, we treated Olympic weight sets as packages that include both the barbell and plates.
Finally, the Olympic sets are different from standard weight sets due to the specifications of the barbell, and subsequently the hole diameter of the weight plates. An Olympic Barbell has a 2-inch diameter rotating sleeve, while Standard Barbells have a 1-inch diameter non-rotating sleeve. Olympic plates, therefore, have a 2″ hole, while standard plates only have a 1″ hole.
What are bumper plates?
Bumper Plates are made of dense rubber and have a steel insert in the center.
Unlike steel weight plates, bumpers were designed with the idea of intentionally dropping them to the floor without damaging the plates, the bar, your flooring, and without making a huge racket. That’s why they’re recommended and typically bundled with Olympic barbells.
If you take a look at Olympic movements or CrossFit routines, you’ll notice that it’s common practice on many of these movements to drop the bar from shoulder height or above. If you do this with steel plates or rubber-coated steel plates, there’s a significant risk of damage to your equipment.
What kind of weight set should I get: Olympic or Standard?
Olympic weight sets are one of the best investments you can make in your health and well-being, and for your home gym. They open up a broad range of strength training movements that will help you develop strength and build muscle. This, in turn has a huge range of physical and mental health benefits.
Moreover, most good Olympic barbells are made to last a lifetime, with weight capacities that you may never reach or exceed.
You could start with a standard weight set if your budget is really tight and you’re just starting out. But keep in mind that if and when you keep progressing, you’ll eventually change to an Olympic weight set.
And, arguably the biggest issue with purchasing a standard weight set is that when you make the jump to Olympic, all your standard weight plates won’t be compatible with your old bar.
- The Best Olympic Weight Sets
- 2. XMark Deadlift Voodoo Package
- 3. REP Weight Set with Black Bumpers
- 4. Fringe Sport Bar + Contrast Bumper Set
- 5. Xmark Crowbar & Go Green Bumper Set
- Should You Get a Olympic Weight Set?
- Choosing the Right Olympic Weight Set
- Frequently Asked Questions About Olympic Weight Sets