Many people nowadays are opting to create their own private gyms in their garages or basements instead of paying a fee to workout at a big box gym. These workout programs will probably include weightlifting.
Lifting heavy weights safely is an important factor in implementing weights as part of a workout program. The best way to ensure the safe use of weights is to use barbell collars.
Barbell collars come in numerous varieties, sizes, and configurations that could confuse any novice weightlifter. Additionally, depending on the type of barbell collar that you use, each kind is installed differently.
Consequently, a barbell collar of the right size and the proper type is the only way to make sure you are as safe as you can be when you are lifting weights.
Five of the best barbell collars will be reviewed:
- Barbell Collar Pair of Quick Release 2″ Olympic size Locking Clamps
- Lock-Jaw HEX 50mm / 2″ Olympic Barbell Collar
- MATCC Weight Lifting Standard Size Screw Collar Spin Lock Chrome Plated Single Collar
- Greententljs 2 Inch Barbell Collars/Clamps
- IVANKO (COT-2.5) Compression Ring Training Collar
What You Need to Know About Barbells Collars
What Are The Advantages of Using Barbell Collars?
Sliding Plates: If barbell collars are not used during weightlifting, the weight plates will inevitably slide at least a few inches as the activity progresses, possibly resulting in one or more weight plates sliding off completely due to excess tilting. This could damage floors, objects near the barbell, or, more seriously, fall on a pet or child in the vicinity. This is why many box gyms will require that all lifters use barbell collars while the work out because a typical gym barbell has been used hundreds of times and develops a problematic bend in the barbell before it is exchanged for a new version. Even with minimal use at home by only a few individuals, the same bending issue can occur over time, so collars help to prevent any dangerous occurrences caused by sliding plates.
Improved Focus: Most people who set up a home gym are novice weightlifters. So, it is probably the case that a big part of our workout progress is improving form. Until the form is on point, very often one side of the barbell will consistently be tilted as you perfect your moves. With one side of the barbell moving up faster than the other, this will create a natural tilt to the barbell that makes using a barbell collar essential. Not only is this an obvious safety issue, but you will not make strides in improving your form if you are focused on whether the weights on the barbell are going to slide onto the floor each time you lift. Even something as slight as a rattling sound could deter optimal focus on the task at hand. And the harder you lift, the more noise will be created by rattling weights. For quality in your workout form, barbell collars add an important element to executing the lift successfully
Improving Balance Issues: The heavier the lift, the more issues may occur with moving weights. This will naturally make you uneasy on your feet and force you to be off-balance as you try to recover your footing. This could lead to rolling an ankle or even more seriously, snapping it. Using barbell collars will hold the weights firmly in place and your balance can be focused on keeping the weight above your head as opposed to your feet planted on the floor because of tilting issues caused by moving weights.
How Do I Know Which Type of Barbell Collar to Use?
There are several types of barbell collars to consider:
Spin-Lock Collars: The spinlocks are a style of bolts that are two-layered and relatively large. The layers need to be unscrewed and separated just enough to be slid onto the barbell. Then, the layers are screwed back together until they are tight enough to avoid movement of the weights. They can only work on threaded ends. If heavier weights are being used then the two layers need to be more than two spins for additional security of the weights. These are not recommended for novices or anyone who may not have significant body strength to tighten them securely. Check out this type of barbell collar:
Clamp Collars: This type of collar holds the weights in place through pressure that acts like a spring coil. The metal component included in the design is coiled at least four times and is connected to extended padded prongs. When the prongs are squeezed, they will release the pressure on the coils so that the weights can be taken off or the collars re-adjusted. They take less time to install than other collars, but a lifter will need quite a bit of strength in their forearms to squeeze these collars together.
Screw-On Collars: These barbell collars require threaded ends and are made up of an upper-level bolt design and a metal ring on the bottom. Both levels need to be loosened to install which calls for unscrewing the top bolt from the bottom ring. After sliding those parts onto the barbell, it is secured in place by screwing the top level until it secures to the ring. Check out this type of barbell collar:
Pressure Collars: These are bolt-shaped and have an attached circular metal component on the bottom with wing nuts on either side of this part. This type of collar can only be secured with pliers in order to tighten the wing nuts. These types of collars tend to be the most costly, but also are the most secure for heavy lifting. They are Olympic barbell collars because athletes for these games use them. If you prefer quick weightlifting sessions, these will probably not be the ones to choose since there is an element of having an installation that involves using an additional tool. Check out this type of barbell collar:
Strap Collars: These are by far the cheapest to buy and are very much on par with spring collars. The benefit of using a strap collar is that they can be folded up and put in a gym bag without much effort to carry them around on a regular basis. They also are a one-size-fits-all convenience. Check out this type of barbell collar:
Things to Consider before Purchasing Barbell Collars
Lifting near-maximum capacity: If you are a seasoned weightlifter or intend on beginning with a maximum weight, then barbells may not be a choice for you. Why? Simply because many lifters who start at maximum weight and are unsure if they can accomplish a lift without a spotter available may have no alternative but to quickly drop the weight in case they overextend their ability to bench press it or lift it on a rep gone wrong. So, you can choose to begin with a moderate weight and use barbell collars or omit them so you can safely dump the weight if you need to do so.
The quality of barbells: When you set up a home gym with a weight system from a local sporting goods store, the barbell used may not be an Olympic barbell. This means that to buy very expensive competition-quality barbell collars on cheaper or moderately priced barbells doesn’t make sense when the better quality collars are actually designed for higher quality barbells.
Instead, spring collars, lockjaw collars, and screw-on collars are typically designed for the non-specialty barbells as opposed to muscle clamps which are for Olympic barbells and veteran amateur lifters. You can upgrade from the store-bought quality once you progress in your lifting skills and spend a bit more.
Five Best Barbell Collars
This is a versatile collar that is designed not only for any type of weightlifting but Crossfit as well. It is made of ABS plastic that is more durable than spring collars for high-endurance training. It will fit bars of an Olympic standard size as well.
It features clips for easy on and off release so you don’t have to interrupt a workout for minutes instead of seconds to change weights. It also has rubber padding for help with additional grip and secure the weights in place.
- The clamps stay in place well for high repetition sets
- Double locks are a plus
- The clasp tight and the quick-release is convenient
- The plastic material may not be as durable for ultra-heavyweight lifts
- The manufacturer does not pad this item during shipping so it may result in damaged parts
The Lockjaw is the way to go if you don’t think you will like a spring collar. It is easier to adjust and has a smooth fit on the barbell itself. They also have a reputation for staying locked in place more consistently when a bar is dropped. It will fit all 2” bars, and it is one of the lightest of the lockjaw collars on the market, and it will not leave scratches on the barbell. It is used in a variety of settings for high school and college competition, as well as home use and commercial gyms.
It is considered to be very easy to use, and it features a quick-locking latch component and optimal grip surface for heavy use.
- Easy to put on and stay planted in place very well
- Require very little pressure to lock in place
- They hold up great for deadlifts of over 300lbs. and clean and jerks at 135lbs (dropped from the top)
- If you use an older bar, they may lose their grip and come loose
- They may not fit the same on a kid’s barbell
The spin and lock design is easy and quick for lifting, and it will fit 1” bars, which is the standard size. It is solid steel material with a chrome surface, and it comes as one piece, so they are sold separately. The durability of the MATCC is exceptional, and the single-action of the cam lock is highly secure. It is recommended for anyone who is focused on toning, strength training, and chest and arm workouts.
- Chrome plating is durable and will not chip due to heavy use
- They thread easily and consistently
- Rubber stoppers do well at keeping tension on the plates
- Not available in pairs to purchase
- Over time and on certain bars, they may need to be tightened more firmly
The Greententljs collar is specifically designed for Olympic standards and Crossfit-type workouts on any 2” barbells. It is made of reinforced ABS plastic and has a spring, snap-latch style and two barbell clamps are included. It is very easy to use, and you only need one hand free to install it quickly for less interruption of your workout.
- The clamps work exceptionally well
- Are adaptable to a variety of bars including curl bars and long bars
- Can be too snug when sliding on the barbell when first used
- May not fit well on Olympic bars
The IVANKO collar is an Olympic standard style manufactured with machined steel and a chrome-plated surface. They are heavier than most at five lbs per pair, and 3/8” thick per collar. They have a compression quality technology that is easy to install and remove from the barbell, and the durability cannot be denied because of the Olympic standard material. If your goal is to set up a personal gym to train for competition, this should be your choice in a barbell collar. The IVANKO collars are weighted in Kilograms as well as pounds in order to meet competition standards. Aesthetically, they are impressive for competition with the shiny chrome surface and look far better than the competing Olympic standard compression collars on the market today with the same features overall.
- The grip on these never let go
- You don’t need to have super-strength to tighten these in place and have them stay put
- Easy as spring clips to remove
- Their weight is not standard; heavier than most on the market
- More expensive than standard collars due to Olympic standard features
Our recommended barbell collar
If your intentions on setting up a home gym are to progressively improve your strength and tone up your muscles instead of competing, then the MATCC collars would be a clear choice. The collars can be removed quickly and easily without any additional tools, and it is made an extremely durable material of solid steel.
You would also not be spending additional money on unnecessary Olympic barbell collars for the purposes of a novice or intermediate workout program. The MATCC collar is great for weightlifting but also recommended for anyone focusing on strength training and toning. So, it is the most versatile choice for standard use.