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What is Knurling On An Olympic Bar and Does It Improve Performance?

Sep 22, 2018

What is knurling on an Olympic bar?

You’re probably asking yourself this question because you hear people talking about the “knurling on an Olympic bar.”

Now, you’re wondering that if you don’t know what knurling is it might somehow be making you miss out on all those gains.

Don’t worry though you’re not missing out on much.

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If you’re simply looking for the answer to what is knurling on an Olympic bar here’s the answer:

Knurling on an Olympic bar is the machine cut etched grip area on a bar.

That’s the short and simple answer.

Also, a quick definition from Wikipedia can be found here on what knurling is

That’s all knurling is — the etched “grippy” area on a bar.

So now that you know that, it’s pretty easy to figure out that knurling was created for gripping purposes.

However, most commercial gyms don’t use coarse or “intense” knurling on their bars.

This is mainly because most people that go to the gym aren’t intense weightlifters or bodybuilders.

Unfortunately, this will affect your performance as someone who is busting ass in the gym and looking for that extra grip you need that the weak knurling on those bars doesn’t offer.What is Knurling On An Olympic Bar - lifting straps for grip

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These straps are high-quality.

They are built to last!

And lastly, the leather suede creates an extremely strong grip.

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Now, if you want to learn more about what is knurling on an Olympic bar, then continue on…


Introduction To Knurling On Olympic Bars

What is Knurling On an Olympic Bar, Really?

What is Knurling On An Olympic Bar - different types of knurlingOne of the most important aspects of lifting is the ability to achieve a strong, tight, controlled and well-placed grip.

However, the importance of grip strength and the function of using grip during weightlifting plays a key role in the way you perform overall, as well as how confident you are in the lifts you do.

By now, you have probably used or have seen how lifting straps, gym chalk, and even liquid gym chalk can increase your grip

Yet, some people still have no idea what knurling is or does and why it can be a great ambassador for your weightlifting journey.

Knurling is a funny word; knurl…almost sounds like gnarl or gnarly.

In some cases, knurling can definitely be gnarly – so beware!

Knurling is a process that essentially adds evenly placed diamond cuts and slices into an object. For us, those objects are metal weightlifting equipment

You have probably already seen knurling on things like metal hand tools, but had not noticed them as being something functionally important to the tool.

Maybe you recognized it as a design choice instead of a functioning characteristic.

In the case of barbells, dumbbells, machine grip attachments, pull-up bars and more things of the sort – the knurling has much more potential to be seen for what it is: a Pandora box of grip.


What is the Point of Knurling?

The point of the knurling for weightlifting is to supplement your own grip strength

It does this with the assistance of the mechanically engraved patterns that are logically placed in a way to give you your full potential of lifting

Furthermore, knurling strategically gives a guide for where you will be gripping the bar.

This is even more so important on things like Olympic barbells where placing your hands correctly can make or break your lifts.

Hand placement plays a huge role to your ability to push and pull weight, and most of the time knurling on bars will give you an optimal recommendation of where your hands should be placed.

Below: Watch How Knurling is Done


The Different Types of Knurling On Olympic Bars

What is Knurling On An Olympic Bar - Barbell Knurling CloseIf you’re just learning about what knurling is you might also be surprised to find out that knurling can come in different “intensities”

Basically, you can think of it like different types of sandpaper.

You have some sandpaper that is really fine and you have some sandpaper that is really rough and coarse.

Knurling can be the same way.

Now, you may be wondering what kind of knurling is out there on the weightlifting battlefield.

Well, most commercial gyms do not utilize strong knurling on their bars – and for good reason.

Think for a second of the average patrons at your local gym, who do you think of?

Usually, these people you imagine do not have the most impressive physiques and are often there to maintain the physiques they have or are attempting to lose weight.

Commercial gyms recognize their customers and implement their equipment accordingly.

Most commercial gyms have barbells and other lifting gear that has very passive knurling.

When you rub your hand across these bars, you will feel where the knurling begins, but it will not be aggressive and usually will not eat up your palms like some knurling can.


When is Knurling on an Olympic Bar Ideal?

What is Knurling On An Olympic Bar - No Knurling

On the other hand (pun intended), there are gyms that have a target market full of powerlifters, Olympic lifters, and very serious bodybuilders.

Those who push and pull high volumes of weight often prefer more knurling.

Also, you will find barbells in a lot of hardcore gyms that have knurling down the full length of the barbell.

This style of the barbell is great for those who are doing the big three (deadlift, bench press, and squat).

The reason you can benefit from all over knurling on these exercises is the lack of limits around where and how you can grip the bar.

You can have a close grip, wide grip and reverse grip wherever you want to hold.

Then you have center knurling on the bar.

This is a double-edged sword because heavy compound movement lifters will prefer center knurling.

The center knurling gives them grip for things like low bar squat or front squats.

Whereas those who perform their lifting with HIIT, like during CrossFit, may prefer to have no center knurling.

This is due to the continual rubbing against the neck, back and chest during the movements.

For more information on knurling, check out:

How Barbell Knurling Differs And How This Impacts Different Lifters

Overall it always comes down to preference when dealing with knurling and sometimes certain exercises will call for a barbell or piece of equipment that implements a specific knurling style.

The next time you visit the gym, take notice of the patterns on the equipment you use, see how it directs your hands subconsciously to choose where to hold.

Knurling is something not many pay attention to nor realize has a purpose.

The aggressiveness of the knurling is up to you if you are purchasing equipment for your home gym – so make sure you do your research and handle some barbells ahead of time to understand the types of knurling on the market and how your workouts will respond to them.

Below: Watch Rogue Fitness Discuss Their Barbells and Differences in Knurling


The Benefits Of The Knurling On Your Olympic Bars

What is Knurling On An Olympic Bar - Knurling BarSome may be wondering the point of knurling when you can wear gloves or chalk.

Sure, gloves do give you a certain amount of grip and can protect your hands significantly when it comes to callouses or scrapes and cuts.

However, you must remember that using gloves will lower your actual, natural grip strength and provide sometimes positive but sometimes detrimental assistance.

Knurling leaves it up to your strength and hand strength only to wrap around the barbell and push or pull the weight

Also, using gloves adds more girth between your actual hands and the barbell – so, in a sense, you are not getting the tightest grip possible.

With lifting straps, you’ll notice fewer people depending on their passive grip ability.

Plus lifting straps don’t tear up your hands that much ;)

Now chalk and lifting straps are an amazing thing.

The chalk will help keep your palms dry and prevent slippage.

There are very few experiences like using a barbell with deep knurling and two chalked up hands.

You will feel extremely strong and in power, but your hands will definitely take a toll.

Your hands will always pay the price whenever knurling is present :)

However, with the release of our new genuine leather gym gloves, this is less of an issue!


Conclusion For What is Knurling On An Olympic Bar

What is Knurling On An Olympic Bar - Close KnurlThe simple question of ” what is knurling on an Olympic bar ” can be very easily answered:

Knurling on an Olympic bar is the machine cut grip area on the bar which allows your hands to grip the bar better

But, as you can see from the information above, there are also several more details to what knurling is.

Such as: the benefits, the types, the purposes for each, etc.

Now you should know what is knurling on an Olympic bar and how it affects your performance.

If you feel that the knurling on the bars at your gym is too passive, check these out:

What is Knurling On An Olympic Bar - Dark Iron Fitness Lifting Strap Main PicThe highly-rated Dark Iron Fitness Lifting Straps.

Not only does the leather suede create an intense grip on the bars for lifting but they also don’t tear up your hands and provide a bit of protection as well.

Aside from that, I hope you enjoyed this article on answering the question of ” what is knurling on an Olympic bar ”

Check out the guide over at Rae Crowther Co. here for more useful bar knowledge.

Until next time, stay tuned.