What Makes an Olympic Weight Set

Among the many types of barbell weights available, an Olympic weight set is the least popular. This is probably because many people have the notion that they are difficult to use and are only for serious athletes. Despite its lack in popularity, however, you still find this type of weights among the fitness equipment in many gyms.

What Makes an Olympic Weight Set

Before approaching the Olympic weights at your gym, be aware that there are differences between those that should be used by men, and those that should be used by women. These differences lie in the length, diameter, and grip section of the bar. The specific differences are highlighted in the table below:



Bar Length: 2.2m

Bar Length: 2.05m

Weight: 20kg

Weight: 15kg

Outer End Diameter: 50mm

Outer End Diameter: 50mm

Grip Section Diameter: 28mm

Grip Section Diameter: 25mm


*does not have a center knurl

Unlike traditional or standard barbells which consist of a single bar in which plates are set in place, Olympic weights have bars with rotating sleeves. This feature eliminates rotational-inertia, an effect put upon the lifter, and allows the lifter more ease while lifting. It is able to do this because the rotating sleeves allow the plates or discs on either end of the bar to spin on their own axis.

Also unlike barbell weights, the plates of Olympic weights come in varying colors. This is done so as to help judges see how heavy the lifter is carrying during competitions. The increments of these discs also help a weight lifter to slowly build their strength, not straining their muscles or injuring their joints. The colors of the plates and their corresponding weights are:




.5kg and 5kg


1kg and 10kg


1.5kg and 15kg


2kg and 20 kg


2.5kg and 25kg

*The center hole of the plate is also larger in diameter so as to accommodate the rotating bar.

Training with Olympic weights often consists of three major steps: build up, hard training, and tapering. Setting a training schedule of twice a day 3 days a week and once a day 2 days a week should help anyone slowly build strength, master technique, and practice their speed. It is important to remember to stay within the current limits of the workout so as not to accidentally injure yourself, as well as to do other exercises as part of the training.

The idea that an Olympic weight set is only for serious athletes is not true. Though it does take a more serious and more avid weight lifter to handle and appreciate the exercises that can be done using this sophisticated equipment. Keep in mind, however, that owning and maintaining this kind of barbell weights can be costly. It is probably better to use this type of weights at a gym where you can get a proper trainer and spotter to help your workout.

Read more: