If you were to picture in your mind your ideal barbell, one that you would consider money well spent, what would that look like? Firstly the barbell’s appearance is satisfying and stays that way day in, day out, just like the first day you laid hands on it. You put it through its paces workout after workout yet the surface doesn’t tarnish, peel, crack or rust. Your confidence in the bar’s structural integrity is never a question, knowing the bar is and always will be straight and won’t bend or snap if put under a lot of stress. The sleeve rotation stays smooth being the last thing that comes to mind when missing a lift and of course last but not least, the feel of the bar. There’s nothing like the feel of a brand new barbell, the precision in the knurling, the grip almost feels like your hand is stuck to the bar never fails your grip when ripping the bar off the ground.
All these characteristics are that of a quality barbell that has been well maintained and looked after. Now I bet most of you are thinking “Well my bar doesn’t look anything like when I first bought it!” But I challenge you on the last time you cleaned the chalk out of the knurling?
So here it is your complete guide to barbell maintenance!
Let’s start with the point i made previously about the basic cleaning of the bar, first things first barbells can rust without proper maintenance here’s how to avoid it:
- Cleaning the chalk out of the knurling removes the opportunity for moisture to build up in the gaps (chalk absorbs moisture and will draw moisture from the air, in turn causing rust to develop in the knurling)
- To properly rid the bar of chalk you need to use a hard non-abrasive nylon bristle brush and ideally this should be done daily, however here at SMAI we are realists and understand as a gym or box owner you could own 20-30 barbells and to clean these daily would be impossible
- So by cycling your maintenance weekly is more realistic and by cleaning half of your bars one week and the other half the next week you ensure its regularly done
THE LAST THING TO DO TO KEEP YOUR PRIDE AND JOY LOOKING AND FEELING AMAZING AND AVOIDING RUST DEVELOPING IS TO SPRAY THE BAR WITH WD-40:
- The way this works to protect the bar is WD-40’s unique water displacement properties
- To apply correctly spray the WD-40 on a rag and make sure to cover the entire shaft, sleeves and collars of the bar
- Leave it for a few hours or overnight (whichever is more convenient) and then wipe off the excess with a dry cloth
- The environment and usage your barbell is exposed to will depend on how regularly you will need to apply WD-40
- If the barbell is kept indoors and is only for home use, doing this once or twice a month would be more than sufficient
- If the barbell is in a more exposed open aired environment or used multiple times a day it is recommended to do so weekly
- If your barbell is copping an absolute thrashing from both ends and is being stored in an open aired or humid environment along with getting used multiple times a day you will need to apply WD-40 at least 2 times a week if not daily to maintain that investment of yours
SOME EXAMPLES OF OTHER FACTORS THAT CAN DIMINISH THE LIFE OF YOUR BAR ARE THE FOLLOWING:
- Storage involving the bar being weight loaded (this will bend the bar over time as the barbells are not designed to hold weight for extended periods of time)
- Always ensure when re-racking or storing the bar that you do so onto non-abrasive surfaces such as nylon, rubber or plastic
- Dropping your bar without plates on it or onto an uneven surface is asking for a bent bar
- Unevenly re-racking your barbell abruptly can also cause it to bend
- Using weight plates that aren’t calibrated to the your barbell’s sleeve diameter (especially when dropping onto the ground or loading and unloading plates the metal can wear the collar’s metal)
- Loading the bar with a weight that exceeds the load rating