How Does A Barbell Not Tip Over? (Safety Features Explained)

Have you ever gone to the gym, loaded a single barbell side (or de-loaded one side) only for the bar to tip off the rack, and sent the plates crashing on the floor?  

When it happens, not only it is unsafe but also highly embarrassing, especially when you are standing in a public gym. So do you find yourself wondering, "how does a barbell not tip over?" 

It might lead you to think about how much weight will make your barbell tip and how to prevent it from happening.  

All barbells are different, so there is no answer on the exact weight that can be put on a single side of the barbell. They differ in ways like: 

Barbell Length 

Due to the differences in barbell types, some things are almost the same, like a barbell's length. Typically, a barbell is around 5-6 feet long and weighs 15-25 lbs to help load evenly, and it enables you to load a minimum of 100 lbs on both sides.  

The length of a barbell is one of the factors that differs an Olympic powerlifting barbell from a standard one.

Check out my complete breakdown of Olympic vs standard barbells!

Barbell Thickness 

Barbell thickness also accounts a lot when it comes to barbell tipping over. As you load a single side of the bar by itself after adding additional weight, you will get a greater distance from the rack-post, and all this, along with uneven weight, may result in bar tipping. 

Barbell thickness and weight can result in barbell tip over; an increased thickness on one side and lower thickness on the other may cause imbalance.  

Barbell Weight 

Since the barbells are variable, there is no right answer to the weight you can put on a single side. If you want to load both sides evenly, then aim for a typical barbell weighing around 15 to 25 lbs that you can find anywhere. Each side can be loaded by 100 lbs.  

Related Article - Different Types Of Barbells 

Barbell Weight Capacity 

The weight capacity of the barbell is directly proportional to barbell dimensions; however, the overall distance that three weights make from the rack post can either make the barbell tip over or just beyond.

With barbells, it is less about the weight and more about how far the barbell is from the rack post, and you must never attempt to cross this line and stick to maintaining weights even while racking.  

How Does A Barbell Not Tip Over

How Much Weight Can Make The Barbell Tip Over?

This question cannot be answered with just a simple number. There are multiple variables discussed above at play while putting on barbell weights that influence the amount of weight it can hold.  

With these factors in play, solving the equation of how much weight you should put on a single side of a barbell turns into a physics problem.  

However, due to regularities present in all these variables discussed above, common ground can be achieved regarding the type of barbell and rack positioning so it does not tip over. 

Typically, a barbell will tip over if three 45 lb. weights are loaded onto a single side, and the other side has no counterweight.  

However, in other cases, even if you are not using 45 lbs. the bar will still tip over when you add three weights on a single side without balancing the other.  

man doing barbell back squats

Why Don't Barbells Tip-Over When A Weight Plate Is Placed On One Side?

Barbells typically do not tip over when there is a little more additional weight on a single side of the bar because the weight people on bars are using does not give enough force to tip it over. 

If the barbell had no other forces acting on it, it would tip, but in an ideal situation, this does not happen.

However, it does not exist in an ideal situation and is acted upon by a factor we all know as gravity. A barbell rests on the rack post, which holds the bar from both sides around a quarter way up from the bar's length, and it is this rack post that stops the barbell from tipping over.  

The rack posts act as the center point for the barbell. These are the points at which the barbell rests and where it will tip or pivot if there is additional weight on any side.

barbell and weights on a rack

Common Barbell Tipping Questions

Are all barbells tip-proof? 

No, barbells are not tip-proof. That is why you must load the weights evenly, typically one side after the other. However, they are protected from tipping over when you get the weights to match the other side.  

How much weight will make a barbell bend? 

For a typical barbell, you will most likely see it start to bend when you load around 225-315 lbs. on it. At this point, the bar will turn some inches while doing explosive compound lifts.  

Can you break a barbell? 

Yes, you can break a barbell. They typically bend and snap if you add more than 500 lbs. on either end. Though, it entirely depends on the kind of barbell you use and the movements you perform with it.  


Conclusion

Various factors add to whether a barbell will tip over or not while changing the weights. So, the next time you are in the gym and you wonder whether the barbell will tip over or not, look back at this guide.  

Paul J

Last Updated on March 16, 2022