Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar

If you’re into weightlifting, then you’ve probably heard of a deadlift bar. This unique barbell is used in strength competitions and at hardcore powerlifting gyms.

But how does a deadlift bar compare to a run-of-the-mill barbell? And can it help you lift more weight?

In this article, I break down the deadlift bar vs stiff bar to answer these questions and more!

Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar

What Is A Deadlift Bar?

A deadlift bar is a weightlifting barbell designed explicitly for the deadlift exercise. For this reason, it has certain features that differ from standard Olympic bars.

Generally, a deadlift bar has characteristics that make it better for generating power off the floor and easier to grip.

Deadlift Bar

Figure 1. An end view of the Ohio deadlift bar from Rogue Fitness.

Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar Specs

In Table 1, you see a comparison of design specifications for a deadlift bar and a stiff bar. Next, I’ll cover each of these attributes in more detail to help you understand how they affect lifting performance.

Table 1. Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar Specs
  Deadlift Bar Stiff Bar
Weight 44lb (20kg) 45lb (20.4kg)
Diameter 27mm 29mm
Shaft Length 56″ 51.5″
Total Length 90.5″ 86.5″
Sleeve Length 15.5″ 16.25″
Center Knurl No Yes
Tensile Strength 190,000psi 205,000psi

On mobile, swipe left to view the entire table.

Deadlift Bar Weight

Deadlift bars weigh 20kg or 44lbs, which is the same as universal Olympic weightlifting barbells. And only slightly less than U.S. barbells which commonly weigh 45lbs.

So it’s not the deadlift bar weight that makes it unique. Instead, it’s the dimensions and other physical attributes.

Deadlift Bar Dimensions

As with all barbells, deadlift bars have a few key dimensions. Some important dimensions include the diameter, shaft length, total length, and sleeve length. If you’re not familiar, the sleeves are the rotating ends of the bar where the weight plates go.

Diameter

In table 1, you can see that the deadlift bar has a smaller diameter shaft. This narrow handle makes the bar easier to grip during pulling movements like deadlifts.

In addition, the smaller shaft makes the bar more flexible. Flex or bend is an important physical property that I’ll discuss more in the next section.

Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar Dimensions

Figure 2. An illustration of the key dimensions of a deadlift bar vs stiff bar.

Shaft Length

Another difference between the deadlift bar and the stiff bar is the distance between the sleeves. The deadlift bar shaft is about 4.5″ longer than a standard bar.

The longer shaft allows more room for wide or snatch grips. But it also plays into the flexibility I already mentioned.

Total Length

With so much more distance between the sleeves, the deadlift bar comes in at about 4″ longer than a stiff bar.

Sleeve Length

Deadlift bars sometimes have shorter sleeves than a regular bar. Specifically, the sleeves are about ¾” shorter.

While this slightly reduces the number of plates you can add, it increases the durability of the bar. And that’s important when you repeatedly drop the bar on the floor during deadlifts.

Other Deadlift Bar Attributes

Along with different weights and dimensions, there are two other attributes of deadlift bars of which you should be aware. These are the knurling and tensile strength.

Knurling

Knurling is a pattern of crossing lines that form diamond-shaped bumps on a bar’s surface. The knurling of a barbell is there to provide extra grip.

On a deadlift bar, the knurling has deeper grooves and more pronounced diamonds. This aggressive texture maximizes grip on heavy pulling movements.

In addition, deadlift bars don’t have center knurling, which tends to get caught on legs or clothing during the deadlift.

Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar Knurling

Figure 3. A side-by-side comparison of knurling. This deadlift bar is bare steel and has chalk on it which gives it a weathered appearance. The knurling on this particular bar is very aggressive. Like a cheese grater on your hands.

Tensile Strength

Tensile strength is a physical property that measures how much pulling load (stress) a material can take without deforming (strain).

However, high tensile strength makes materials brittle and stiff. Therefore, a somewhat lower tensile strength is better when you want something to be ductile and flexible.

Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar Stress vs Strain

Figure 4. The stress/strain curve is used in materials science to illustrate the relationship between strength and flexibility. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar Flex

Any barbell bends when you lift it from the center with heavy plates loaded on the ends. This bending is called flex or “whip” in weightlifting.

But the deadlift bar is designed to flex more than a standard bar due to the smaller diameter, longer shaft, and lower tensile strength.

With some basic measurements, I estimate that the deadlift bar bends about 1” with 405 lbs. Whereas the stiff bar only bends about ½”.

Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar Flex

Figure 5. An approximate measure of the amount of flex in a deadlift bar vs stiff bar when the plates are about to lift off the floor. The measurements are an estimate based on the known diameter of the bars. Both lifts are 405 lb.

The point at which the plates leave the floor is the “sticking point” because it’s where you feel the total weight. Often, this is where you fail.

With greater flex, the deadlift bar allows you to generate more momentum at the start of the movement. And this helps you break through the sticking point to lift more weight.

Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar Video

In this video, you can see how the bar flex affects the momentum generated at the start of the lift. And you can see how the stiff bar results in a more difficult sticking point.

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Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar Weight Lifted

In my experience, the deadlift bar makes 405 lb feel 15-20 lb lighter. In other words, it could help you add 3-5% more weight to your deadlift. And this number could be slightly higher as you get used to the feel of the bar.

Keep in mind, however, the flex only helps at the start of the movement. That means if your weak point is the lockout at the top, the deadlift bar won’t improve your performance very much.

The deadlift bar isn’t magic. So don’t expect to break Thor Bjornsson’s world record deadlift overnight!

Ohio Deadlift Bar vs Texas Deadlift Bar

Figure 6. Hafthor Bjornsson set the deadlift world record by lifting 501kg (1,105lb) in 2020. Now that’s some serious bar bend.

Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar: Which Is Better?

The deadlift bar is great if you’re trying to maximize strength and weight lifted on the deadlift. However, you might not see a difference until you’re lifting weights above 315 lb since that’s when the bar bend becomes noticeable.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a bar that’s good for any lift, then you’d be better off with a stiff bar or standard Olympic bar. Stiffer bars are more versatile for all kinds of exercises.

Deadlift Bar Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Increases height from the floor at which you feel the total weight
  • It enables you to lift slightly more on the deadlift
  • Smaller diameter and aggressive knurling improve grip

Cons

  • Not ideal for squats, bench press, or Olympic lifts

Stiff Bar Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Less flex is ideal for squats, bench press, or Olympic lifts
  • Center knurling helps keep the bar in place during squats
  • Thicker diameter is more comfortable on the bench press

Cons

  • Not ideal for maximizing deadlift

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Ohio Deadlift Bar vs Texas Deadlift Bar

Two popular brands are the Ohio deadlift bar by Rogue and the Texas deadlift bar by Buddy Capps. Each bar gets its name from the state where it is manufactured. Creative, right?

In table 2 below, you can see the specs for these deadlift bars. You’ll notice the main difference is the sleeve length and overall length.

Table 2. Ohio Deadlift Bar vs Texas Deadlift Bar Specs
  Ohio Deadlift Bar Texas Deadlift Bar
Weight 44lb (20kg) 44lb (20kg)
Diameter 27mm 27mm
Shaft Length 56″ 56″
Total Length 90.5″ 92.5″
Sleeve Length 15.5″ 18″
Center Knurl No No
Tensile Strength 190,000psi 190,000psi

On mobile, swipe left to view the entire table.

Ohio Deadlift Bar vs Texas Deadlift Bar

Figure 7. End views of the Ohio and Texas deadlift bars.

The Ohio deadlift bar is the one I use at my gym, and I have to say it’s excellent. However, the Texas deadlift bar is the official bar of several U.S. and international powerlifting organizations.

Either of these bars would be a great addition to your gym. But longer sleeves of the Texas deadlift bar are better if you need to maximize the number of weight plates you can add.

Other Bar Types

Now that you’re an expert on the deadlift bar. You might be interested in learning more about some of the other types of bars in your gym.

One of the most misunderstood is the Smith machine bar. Most people have no idea how much a Smith machine bar weighs!

And for good reason, it depends on the type of Smith machine, bar material, and counterbalancing. But I can help you figure out exactly how much weight you’re lifting on the Smith machine.

How Much Does A Smith Machine Bar Weigh?

Click the link above to find out.

How Much Does A Smith Machine Bar Weigh
Smith Machine Bar Weight

Another non-standard barbell is the EZ curl bar. You know, the one with the curved handles that you use for bicep curls or skull crushers.

Again, many people don’t actually know how much it weighs. And this can be troublesome when trying to optimize your workouts. So click below to learn how much you’re really lifting.

EZ Bar Weight By Size, Type, & Brand

EZ Bar Weight
EZ Bar Weight

As always, if you found this article informative, you’ll definitely enjoy some of the related topics below. Learn about different bar types as well as how to do exercises with those bars.

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