1" bar safety


New Member
Has anyone ever heard of a 1" bar failing? How catastrophic is that? My deads are moving into the mid-300s. I use a 6 foot, 1" diameter bar, and all my scrounged gear is 1". I checked a weight gear website and they say their 1" bar has 250 pound limit. The Olys have a 1200 to 1500 pound limit but are only a quarter-inch bigger. It's hard to belive a 1" can't go a bigger percentage of Oly max.

If a bar is going to just bend at failure and I can drop it that's OK, but if it's gonna explode, not good. I once broke a crowbar and it shattered, although the fracture surface was like gray sugar so clearly that was crap metal.

I don't currently have the budget to re-build with Oly gear, but my goal has been to make 400 DL. Unless it's gonna kill me.

Thanks for the help.
(mewlingthunder @ Feb. 28 2009,1:35)</div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">I don't currently have the budget to re-build with Oly gear, but my goal has been to make 400 DL. Unless it's gonna kill me.</div>
Nobody has a budget to rebuild. Do the way you've been doing it all along -- scrounge a bit at a time. Eventually you're going to have to get big boy toys if you want a big boy lift.

What do you mean: &quot;Unless it's gonna kill me&quot;? Don't be a girly-man. Do you wanna to live forever?  
I bent my Oly bar doing some 600lb rack-pulls and by dropping it awkwardly on one side with a couple of hundred pounds on board. It's still very useable but is a bit annoying for cleans because it wants to rotate into a certain position. The owner of my previous gym had bent his Oly bar from all the 600+lb squats he did. So, it is quite possible to bend cheaper Oly bars but not have them shatter.

My guess is that the steel commonly used in most basic bars will have a degree of ductility and should start to deform naturally before fracture. I doubt very much it'll just snap without warning, but it is possible. It's down to the type of steel and therefore the crystal structure and whether there are a high number of dislocations in it. It's been a long time since I've studied up on steel so you might want to look it up.

Still, you aren't going to know what material properties the steel used in your bar has until you put it to the test. If you are worried about it not coping with 400lb, set the bar at a height that will allow you to lift it 'easily' (ie. you only have to lift it a few inches), load it up and pull. That's about the quickest way to check out if it's man enough for the job. Use some straps and then you won't have to worry about your grip. Once you have the bar in the air, use a pulsed shrugging type motion to get it to resonate a bit and see what happens. You'll know pretty soon how well it copes. If you aren't sure whether it has deformed or not, take the plates off and roll the bar along the floor. If it's still straight, it'll roll evenly.

Psychologically, this will also be a good way to get to feel the weight of 400lb in your hands.
I wondered about ductility, or even lawsuit-inspired safety margins, seems like a 1&quot; bar really ought to be able to hold up a half a car. It's only 42&quot; between support points, for crying out loud. I also tried to calculate bar stresses, I had some structural engineering in college, but have no idea about allowable stresses on this metal. Still, it's baffling that a 1-1/4&quot; bar has 4 to 5 times the load capacity of a 1&quot; bar, given that it's only a little more than half again as much bigger in area. It has to be different manufacturing quality and higher strength metal, I imagine.

Here's an article by the founder of Ivanko barbells, they had some breakage problems with Oly bars. And a particularly grisly death story, although it was in the 60's, presumably manufacturing quality has improved.


Still, one wonders, when you buy used gear, how many times it was re-sold or how it may have been abused. Maybe best to buy new bars and used plates? And avoid chrome, apparently.

Not having them Big Boy cojones, as evidenced by my still plugging away with the weempy bar, it never occured to me to test the bar that way. It's a great idea though, next time I'm feeling my Wheaties I will try that. What I did do was load the bar with 405, and put the car jack under the mid-point, the worst possible spot for highest stress. Jacking produced some significant bar bendage before one end lifted, but no breaking or kinking or residual bend. My concern would be metal fatigue. It's going to take, I don't know, 5 or 6 more sessions to break 400. Heh.

Tea leaves, extispicy, and the old Tarot crone down the street see Oly in my future.