Barbell/Dumbbell Collars – Everything you need to know

1 comment 3 min read

Barbell collars hold your weightlifting plates on your bar to ensure that they don't slip or fall off while you are working out – protecting both you, and the other equipment in your gym. There are many types of barbell collar, each with their advantages and disadvantages, which we’ll take a look at in this article.

Spring collars or clamp collars

Spring collars (sometimes known as clamp collars) are named after their spring-like structure, which helps them to generate force to attach to the bar. To fix your spring collar to a bar simply apply pressure to the handles on either side of the spring to expand the diameter of the collar. Once the diameter has expanded you can easily slide the collar across the bar until the metal is flush against the plates and then release the handle to secure the collar in place.

Spring collars - advantages

One of the major advantages of spring collars is their affordability. You can pick up a good pair of spring lock collars for around $10, which is convenient for those on a tight budget. Spring lock collars are also fast to slide onto the end of a bar. This makes them particularly useful if you’re working with a partner that requires more/less weight than you or if you’re following a routine that asks you to adjust your weights regularly.

Spring collars - disadvantages

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. A cheap pair of spring lock collars simply won’t compare to better quality collars – especially for olympic lifts. That being said, spring collars are fine for most regular gym goers and humble home setups. You may want to consider a good quality pair of snap lock collars if you’re moving up to higher weights or performing a lot of dynamic movement – such as olympic lifts or CrossFit.

Little Bloke Recommends: 360 strength olympic spring collars pair

Spin lock collars

It’s important to note that you can’t purchase spin lock collars without a spin lock bar to attach them to. Spin lock collars usually come with a dumbbell or barbell bar, as part of a set. Spin lock collars work similarly to a nut and bolt, with the collar being the nut and the bar being the bolt. The way that spin lock collars work all comes down to Newton’s third law of physics: for every action (force) there is an equal and opposite reaction. As you tighten the collar it applies force against the plates and the end of the bar, which, in turn, applies force back on the threads of the collar and holds them securely in place.

Spin-lock Collars - Advantages 

Spin lock collars are great as part of a set and usually very affordable. They work well for lower weights and are the perfect gym equipment for home setups. They’re easy to use and if they do come loose you will feel the weight plates start to slide, which means you can safely put down the bar and readjust the collar to avoid any mishaps.

Spin-lock Collars - Disadvantages 

One common complaint with spin lock collars is that people just can’t get them tight enough. This can be incredibly frustrating, especially if the collars are constantly slipping, which can cause your weights to move around on the end of the bar. If you’d like to learn how to avoid this read our article on how to properly tighten spin lock collars.

Little Bloke Recommends: 480mm Dumbbell Handles with Spinlock Collars

Snap lock/Locking collars

Snap lock collars are circular shaped with a clip that opens and closes to tighten the collar around the bar. There are also pressure collars, which work in the same way, but have a handle rather than a clip to tighten the collar. Snap lock collars work just like a clamp, applying pressure to the bar to hold the weight plates in place. A good set of snap lock collars are incredibly sturdy, with those manufactured from metal rather than nylon/plastic being a more durable option – ideal for olympic lifting and CrossFit.

Snap-lock Collars - Advantages

Snap lock collars are easy and fast to attach to the end of a bar – simply loosen the clip, slide on the collar, and tighten the clip again. This makes them a convenient option for routines that require you to regularly adjust the weight you’re lifting if you’re working with a partner that lifts slightly more/less than you.

Snap-lock Collars - Disadvantages

While you can get a decent set of snap lock collars for a fairly low price, I would recommend purchasing a sturdier pair – especially if you’re using them for Olympic lifts or CrossFit. The price may be prohibitive at first, but I assure you that if you invest in a strong pair of snap lock collars you will not be disappointed.

Little Bloke Recommends: 360 Strength Aluminium Olympic Locking Collars - Pair