CAP barbell has been in the barbell business for over 30 years. Their products are touted as some of the most trusted and durable out there for fitness and lifting enthusiasts.
In this article, we’re taking a look at the five different models they offer, their strong points, their weak points, what each one is designed for and how you should go about picking one for yourself.
I could bore you with details about CAP Barbell’s history and trajectory in the fitness industry, but that’s not really what you came for. Suffice it to say that CAP barbell has been around for over 30 years, and their equipment is well known for their barbells, which are durable and affordable for the average joe.
Now… Let's not waste any more time and get down to business.
Meet the Five Cap Barbell Models
As I mentioned, CAP Barbell offers five different barbell models, each geared towards different styles of lifters and disciplines. These are:
While the names are pretty cool, I’m not sure they mean anything in particular. All you need to know is that each model is stronger than the last. Now with that out of the way, let's get started with our reviews:
Cap "The Beast" Olympic Lifting Bar
The Beast is close to what you would find in most commercial gyms, maybe a little bit better. It’s a good barbell for almost anyone, it's great for the average Joe who just wants to get fit and isn’t trying to break any world records.
However, if you’re putting up some really big numbers, this might not be the bar for you. Why? Well CAP barbell claims it can hold up to 1000lb, but customer reviews claim that after around 350lbs, the may start bending.
While a bent barbell isn't the end of the world, it's definitely something you should try to avoid. That’s why if you're regularly putting up more than 350lbs, move on to the next bar.
So, now we know how strong The Beast is, so let's move on.
Much like the rest of this bar, the knurling for the beast is well... average. It’s not too shallow, but it's not super deep either. It will get the job done for the weight you’re lifting (around 350lbs), you won’t feel the bar slipping out of your fingers anytime soon.
There is one caveat though, it doesn’t have any center knurling, which sucks for squatting. Center knurling will prevent the squats from sliding down your neck during the exercise. However… Most commercial gym bars don’t have center knurling either, and I’ve squatted just fine in those, so this isn’t really that bad.
To sum things up, the beast is great for deadlifts, bench press, rows, etc. but only decent for squats.
The sleeves on this bar are pretty good. They have a great spin, which will reduce tension on your joints when moving around weights. It also has grooved sleeves, which prevents the weights from sliding around as you move them.
If I were to nitpick, which I will because that’s my job, the only issue is that the finish is not that good and it can shed metal shavings. It doesn’t cause any performance issues, it's just a little bit annoying.
CAP "The Boss" Olympic Power Lifting Bar, Silver Zinc
“The Boss'' is a definite improvement over “The Beast''. CAP barbell claims it can hold up to 1500 lbs, which is 500 more from the stated capacity of our previous entry. However, once again we see that reviews don’t match our expectations.
While I have personally seen this bar get loaded with 600 pounds and not bend at all, there are several reviews that claim the bar starts to bend when going over 800/900 pounds.
Now, most of us don’t even dream of lifting 800 pounds at once, but believe it or not, some people do it on the regular. If you’re an experienced powerlifter or strongman, keep reading.
So.. Who is this bar for? I’d say it is for those of us who can put up numbers that may bend “The Beast'', but won't ever come close to 800lbs at once.
Or… For those that really like center knurling, I’ll explain more in the next section.
I’ve got some good news for squat lovers out there, The Boss has center knurling, kind of. Not all versions of “The Boss” have center knurling, you can choose which one you like when buying them and the price is pretty much the same.
The only difference I could find is that bars with center knurling only come in grey or black. The silver finish is reserved for those without. Pretty cool option if you ask me, if you don’t really like center knurling, you can just skip out, if you need it you can get it.
When it comes to knurling depth, it’s pretty much the same as The Beast, deep enough, but nothing crazy.
Sleeves on this bar are just as good as our previous one. The spin is amazing and the grooves are great for keeping the weights from sliding. Unfortunately, it also sheds metal when you slide in weights. But they are great, you won't need to look for a replacement for the sleeve adapters with this barbell.
Cap "the Rebel" Olympic Power Lifting Bar with Center Knurl, Black
As expected, bar strength keeps going up for these bars. For a long time, “The Rebel” was CAP’s strongest barbell in the line up, ready to take on anything you might throw at it. This bar is rated for 2000lbs, and unlike our previous entry, I haven’t found anyone claiming couldn’t.
In fact, I’ve seen plenty of powerlifting gym owners claim that they’re quite happy with this bar. Putting up huge numbers for months without the slightest bend.
The knurling for “The rebel” is deeper than on our previous model, which is a must because those who buy these bars are moving some serious weight, you wouldn't want the bar to slip and fall.
Since this is a bar for serious weightlifters, it also features center knurling, so that both front and back squats can be performed safely with high loads.
The sleeves are the best we’ve seen yet. You can tell these are quality sleeves because when you drop the bar it doesn't clang it thuds. Not very cientific I know, but if you hear a clunk when you drop the bar, it signals that there are big tolerances in the rolling pin mechanism.
Big tolerances mean that stuff bangs against each other when you drop it, which increases wear and tear. On the contrary, with “The Rebel” you hear a deep thud that tells you there’s nothing to worry about!
However, these don’t have much of a spin, but that’s on purpose. This is a powerlifting bar, it’s not meant to be used for olympic lifts that require the bar to spin, it's meant for the bench press, the squat and the deadlift.
For those, where the bar moves in a straight line, spin isn’t really that necessary. Yes this will spin to lessen the strain on your wrist, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary. If you want a strong, sturdy bar for olympic lifts, you need to turn to its cousin, “The Master”
CAP “The Master” Olympic Needle Bearing Power Bar
The Master is “The Rebel ‘s” weightlifting cousin, it’s virtually the same bar, but the sleeve mechanism is different to get a better spin. That means that strength wise, these bars don’t really differ.
Both “the Master” and the “The Rebel” won’t bend while holding up 2000 lbs no proble, though I doubt anyone’s gonna put up those numbers anytime soon.
The knurling on this bar is on point, it has to be if it’s aimed at weightlifters. The way they move around weight in olympic lifting is no joke and they need a safe grip to prevent it from flying out of their hands.
That’s why “The Master” has even more knurling than regular powerlifting bars. It is extended to the side so that athletes training in the snatch can use an extremely wide grip safely. Of course, they also paid special care to depth, some newbies have even called it too deep
This is where the master really shines. Instead of a traditional bushes mechanism, the master has needle bearings.
What are needle bearings? Wll I’m no engineer but I know that needle bearings are stronger, more durable and all around better than bushings. So much so that the International Weightlifting Federation only uses needle bearing bars on their competitions.
Needle bearings offer a much smoother spin, while also spinning faster and longer. All in all, they make the exercise safer for the athletes joints.
How To Choose A CAP Barbell
Choosing the right barbell isn’t something you should take lightly. The wrong barbell can be the difference between an amazing home gym setup, or one that barely gets the job done. Not knowing what you need can also mean wasting your money on high end barbells, while you could’ve bought something cheaper.
Choose Your Discipline
As you probably realized, different disciplines require different barbells. So the first question you should ask yourself is what do you want the barbell for? Do you just wanna train like a bodybuilder? A powerlifter? Crossfit? Olympic weightlifting? Do military presses? or just deadlifts?
Bodybuilders can get away with using the cheapest bars, they lift higher reps and use lighter loads, so they don’t need anything super strong. They also train in static lifts, so no need to worry about spinning sleeves here.
Powerlifters are similar in that they don’t need spinning sleeves, but depending on how strong you are, you may need to spend a little extra to ensure your bar can take it.
Weightlifters and crossfitters fall into the same camp, you need bars that allow you to perform olympic lifts safely, so you’ll have to go for the more expensive stuff.
How Much Do You Lift?
Of course, when buying a barbell, weight capacity is paramount. You need a barbell you can make progress with, without the fear of having it snap or bend mid lift.
When shopping, you should look for something that is comfortably above your max lifts right now. That way you can keep increasing your max worry free. This is especially important for new lifters, who may not have reached their top strength potential yet. You’re gonna make gains and you need a bar that can grow with you.
Also , if you aren't going to lift a lot you might end up with rusty weights which isn't a fun problem to have.
Unfortunately, just as not all bars are built the same, not all bars are priced the same. In the end, your budget is what is going to determine how much you spend on your barbell.
Luckily, CAP Barbells are quality AND affordable, so you won’t have to break the bank or settle for an inferior product.
If you aren’t sold on CAP barbells and want to look for other alternatives, here are some I can vouch for:
The Ohio Bar - Black Zinc
The Ohio bar from Rogue Fitness is comparable to “The Rebel” in specs, it has the same tensile strength, so it can hold up to 2000 lbs as well; center knurling and bushing sleeves. A great barbell all around.
What is not comparable is the price, which is almost double at the time of writing!
American Barbell Stainless Bearing Bar
I won’t mention how much this barbell costs, cause it will probably scare you away. Let’s just say it costs a pretty penny, so only SERIOUS lifters should consider it.
This bar is closer to what “The Master” offers. They both hold up the same weight and meet IWF specifications, though this one has proprietary bearing technology that makes the bar spin smoother as the work gets heavier.
You won’t find that with any other bar, though if that alone is worth the price is something you have to decide for yourself.