- Diameter (of hole, bar) : Standard bars are anywhere from 25mm in diameter to 28mm, whilst Olympic bars are a more noticeable 50mm.
- Weight (of bars) : a standard bar weighs anywhere from 5kg – 12kg, an Olympic one from 12kg-20kg plus (and as the weight of the bar is included in the total weight – this adds up).
- Strength (of bars) : Olympic bars can handle hundreds of kg safely (check with the manufacturer though), with some being rated at well over 500kg. Standard bars, on the other hand, may start bending at somewhere over 200kg.
- Bar ends: Most Olympic bars have what are called revolving ends. This means that the ends of the bar freely rotate. This combats the problem of added torque when doing certain exercises – less torque means less eventual bar warping, as well as lessening the possibility of hand slippage or strain.
- Cost : the major factor in the favour of standard bars and plates is the cost, which is generally considerably cheaper than the Olympic counterparts.
So how to decide? Think about where your training is going. Honestly! If you want to lift heavy – go with Olympic. You’ll need them sooner or later and it’s cheaper in the long run.
If you’re planning on doing some light working out at home – want to get some muscles or get in shape – go the standard plates and bars. They are cheaper, easier to get, and will do the job fine.
And if you’re looking for something to do crossfit with, powerlifting, or just want to be able to drop your plates, go with bumper plates, the extra cost will be worth it.