When it comes to weight lifting there is nothing quite like an Olympic weight set. For those who don’t know what an Olympic weight is, it’s essentially a barbell set. If you are into weight training or power training then get yourself and Olympic barbell and get started.
Olympic weight set- why are they so great?
First up a little confession. I love training with an Olympic barbell. It’s just so simple and you can do so much. Mine is in my garage and together with my squat rack allows me to get some serious training done.
Even if you are not a regular follower of actual Olympic weightlifting it’s hard to avoid seeing Olympic weight sets these days. The rise of Crossfit and the use of Strength and Conditioning style training at a professional and amateur level means that most gyms now have a barbell set of some kind.
It’s actually kind of funny. Barbell training was one of the original training disciplines in the early days of pro bodybuilding with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger being a big fan.
After the wide introduction of weight machines in gyms, the barbell fell out of fashion and was reserved only for Olympians involved in the specific sport. More and more people are now returning to the Olympic barbell for weight training and seeing the benefits it can bring.
So what is an Olympic weight set?
If you have ever seen a barbell set then an olympic weight set is not that different. First up there is the Olympic barbell or weight bar. There are two kinds of olympic barbell with a different standard weight from men and women.
Men’s Olympic bar:
The men’s bar weighs in at 20kg or 44 pounds. This is pretty heavy when you consider that’s before you add any bumper plates (weight plates). They are 2.2 meters or 7.2 feet long. Part of the bar itself is textured to provide grip during a lift.
Women’s Olympic bar:
The women’s bar looks pretty similar but it has its differences. Firstly it is shorter at 2.01 meters or 6.6 feet long. It also weighs in a little lighter at 15kg or 33 pounds.
One of the things I like most about Olympic weight sets is the bumper plates. These are large rubber weight plates which are very similar to regular weight plates. The advantage is that due to the bumper plates being rubber they are very robust.
This means they are easy to move around and store in your garage. They are also very handy when you are performing a heavy lift and suddenly need to drop the barbell. With traditional weights, you would either damage the floor or the weights or both. With the rubber weight plates, you protect the equipment and the floor which is great.
The only downside to these weight sets is that they are more expensive. I think this is a small price to pay since they will last you much longer and are so much more diverse.
They come color coded too which is great when you are in a hurry or just a little too tired during your workout to figure out which weights to grab. If you have a red plate on one side then you need one on the other, easy!
The last part just like with a regular barbell set is collars. These are simple sleeves or clips used on each end of the bar to hold the weights in place. When you are using weights this heavy they are generally made from metal. There are some sets however that comes with plastic sets also.
At the bottom of this guide, you will find some example exercise options to get you started.
Now you have a good idea what an Olympic weight set is, let’s take a look at some of the options available.
CAP Barbell 300-Pound Olympic Set (Includes 7 Ft Bar)
Just like it says the cap barbell set is a 300 lb olympic weight set. That is the total weight including the barbell.
It comes with the 7-foot bar and spring clip collars to keep the weights on.
The plates are cast iron which I’m not too keen on but it does deliver a lot of weight for a reasonable price.
Easy grip plates come in handy when you are changing the weight plates so that’s a definite plus.
It comes with the following plates:
45 lb x 2
35 lb x 2
25 lb x 2
10 lb x 2
5 lb x 4
2.5 lb x 2
All up it delivers the 300lbs needed but do keep in mind the cast iron plates. These chip and the paint comes off over time. You will also need some serious gym mats to protect your floor.
Troy USA Sports Olympic Weight Set
The Troy USA set is a lot like the CAP set we looked at above. It is also cast iron with a coating on the plates.
The plates do not have the easy grip style handles so they are a little harder to use. The set comes with a total of 14 plates:
2.5 lbs x 2
5 lb x 4
10 lb x 2
25 lb x 2
35 lb x 2
45 lb x 2
Like the CAP set, it gets the job done at a great price but the cast iron material does mean you need the gym mats again.
VTX 300 lb. Olympic Grip Plate Weight Set
The VTX 300lb Olympic Grip Plate weight set is also from Troy Barbell. It comes some of the features of the previous two sets and is my pick of the three looked at so far.
As the name would suggest is has the grip style design on the plates so they are easy to pick up and change. The plates are rubber which as I mentioned in my guide above, in my opinion, is essential.
You still get your full 300lb of weight and all for a really good price too. You won’t find many sets will all of these features this cheap.
It comes with the same breakdown of weight plates as the previous sets so plenty of options to choose from.
This is my top pick for all you need on a budget.
Training with your Olympic weight set
You can train every muscle in the body with an Olympic weight set. Check out this image which shows you just how much is involved in this lift.
Before you say I can’t do that fancy exercise your barbell set is just as effective for other simpler movements. Exercises such as Deadlifts, Squats, Bench Press and hang cleans are all super effective and easy to get started with.