In the world of strength training, there are two types of benches and bars. The first and oldest is standard, or exercise. The second is Olympic. They are similar, but there are key differences between them that you should keep in mind.
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Standard benches are designed to be used with standard bars, also known as exercise bars. A standard bar is a single bar of metal, usually around five to six feet long. The bar is approximately one inch in diameter and will hold standard weight plates which have a one-inch hole in the middle.
A standard bench is designed to be used with a standard bar. A bench will usually have what are called uprights. The uprights are where the bar is held while you are lying down. Because of the length of the standard bar, the upright on a standard bench are narrow. This means that when you reach up to grab the bar, your hands will be outside the uprights.
Olympic benches are designed to be used with Olympic bars. An Olympic bar weighs 20.4 Kilogram and is seven feet in length. It has what are called revolving ends. This means that the ends of the bar freely rotate. The part of the bar that you actually hold is a bit thicker than that of a standard bar and the ends are much thicker. The ends are a bit less than two inches in diameter and can only be used with Olympic plates, which have a two-inch diameter hole in the centre.
An Olympic bench is designed to be used with an Olympic bar. Because of the length and weight of the bar, the uprights of the Olympic bench are wider than those of a standard bench. When you reach up to grab the bar, the uprights are well outside your hands.
Functionally an Olympic bench and standard bench are the exact same. The only difference between the two is that you must use a standard bar with a standard bench and an Olympic bar with an Olympic bench. The type of bench therefore that you get is wholly dependent on the type of bar that you have.
There is nothing that you can do with a standard bar and bench that you cannot do with an Olympic bar and bench, but there are a few things that you can do with an Olympic bar that you cannot do as easily with a standard bar.
The Olympic bar is the bar used in both the sport of Olympic weightlifting as well as powerlifting. The size and strength of the bar also allow a person to load the bar with much more weight. The best Olympic bars are able to be loaded with more than 680 Kilogram.
However, the revolving ends require more manufacturing and engineering and this is reflected in cost. Olympic bars and benches are generally more expensive than standard bars. Since the Olympic bar is able to be loaded with more weight, the Olympic bench is usually a bit more robust than its standard counterpart and this affects its price.
Should you choose the standard bench and bar or Olympic bench and bar? It all depends on you. If price is a factor then you will most likely want to look at the standard bench and bar. The standard bar is also usually a foot or two shorter than the Olympic bar, so think about space as well.
If you are interested in competing at either Olympic weightlifting or in the sport of powerlifting, you will need to look at the Olympic bar and bench. Also, if you want to lift the most weight possible, eventually you will need the stronger Olympic bar and bench.
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