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How To Maintain Olympic Weight Bars

By David Benjamin

Most fitness center weight rooms offer a wide variety of equipment. The single most important piece, however, is a high quality Olympic bar. A standard Olympic bar can be used for an almost infinite number of exercises, and can accommodate anywhere from 45 to over 1,000 pounds. With the right care and maintenance, Olympic bars will provide years of dependable service.

  1. Wipe off bars after each use. A good wipe-down should be a daily procedure to keep bars clean and germ free. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shared equipment should be cleaned with disinfectant to prevent germ and bacteria transmission. For bars that are not made of stainless steel, it's important to wipe away perspiration after use to prevent rust.

  2. Clean the knurling. The knurling of an Olympic bar is the textured section which provides traction for gripping. Over time, rust, dirt and chalk get trapped in the knurling and need to be brushed out. Every few weeks, use the wire brush to free caked-in dirt, finishing the job with a toothbrush.

  3. Lubricate the bushings. The sleeves of Olympic bars are designed to rotate so that the bar does not roll in your hands. To keep moving freely, the bushings must be oiled periodically. To oil the bushing, apply silicone lubricant spray where the sleeve meets the bar. Next, spray the lubricant into the ends of the bar. After you spray each end, angle the bar so that the side you just lubricated is tilted up and leave it there for two to three hours.

  4. Soak in oil overnight. Ivanko, manufacturer of weight-lifting equipment, recommends applying a light coating of oil to their bars, letting them soak overnight. Wipe away the oil the next day. Repeat every 30 days.

  5. Tip

    Easy maintenance starts with good equipment. If you avoid buying or using cheap bars, then maintenance will be hassle-free.


    When using oil for bar maintenance, be sure to remove all excess oil, especially where the bar will be gripped. Slippery bars are dangerous due to the risk of drops.

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