You're adding more weight training into your workout routine, but you're unsure if you should be using barbell collars or not. What are barbell collars? Barbell collars help secure weight plates on the barbell and are essential for safety.
If you'd like to expand on your barbell collar knowledge, this guide will tell you everything you need to know!
Table of Contents
- What Exactly Is A Barbell Collar? (Overview & Importance)
- Different Types Of Barbell Collars
- How Much Do Barbell Collars Weigh?
- How To Correctly Use Barbell Collars In The Gym
- Frequently Asked Barbell Collar Questions
What Exactly Is A Barbell Collar? (Overview & Importance)
When doing a barbell exercise with heavy weights (like squats, deadlifts, Olympic lifts, etc.), it's a good idea to use barbell collars. A barbell collar secures the weight plates to prevent them from shifting or even sliding off the barbell entirely.
If a weight plate shifts or slides down the barbell sleeve during a lift, it will cause instability and can prevent you from completing the lift.
Added to this, a weight plate that falls off the barbell during a lift can cause serious injury to you or those around you. As such, barbell collars are an essential piece of safety equipment within any commercial or home gym.
While all barbell collars function in the same way, there are a variety of different types available to suit your needs (and budget!). Even though they all aim to do the same job (which is keeping the plates in place), different collars fit different barbell sizes and barbell types.
Since barbells come in either standard or Olympic size, you’ll need to ensure that the collars you buy will fit your existing barbell or the barbell you want to buy. Additionally, many collar types can be used on straight barbells as well as specialty bars, but be sure to confirm your barbell type is compatible with the barbell collar before buying.
Finally, do all types of lifts need a barbell collar? Absolutely not! When doing bench presses (especially if you’re lifting alone in your garage gym or don’t have a spotter available), you should avoid using barbell collars.
This will allow you to tilt the bar and intentionally slide the weight plates off the bar if you're not able to complete the lift. Another instance when you won't need to use barbell collars is when using bumper plates. They tend to grip the barbell better and don’t shift as much as regular weight plates do.
Related Article - Standard Barbells Vs Olympic Barbells
Different Types Of Barbell Collars
Spring collars are the most common type of barbell collar. They feature a spring-like design that helps to secure them onto the barbell sleeve. Spring collars are a popular choice because they’re cheap and easy to use.
They work by squeezing the handles together, which expands the collar opening to slide on/off the barbell. This type can be difficult to use for people with poor grip strength.
However, since they slide on and off quickly, they’re ideal for CrossFit-type workouts where you need to change your plates often. Spring collars usually provide a secure grip when they’re new but slowly lose their strength over time and need to be replaced. Added to this, spring collars can scratch or damage the finish on the sleeves.
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Lock-Jaw is a brand that offers a variety of collars to suit a variety of barbell types, including specialty bars. While there are many knock-offs or “lock-jaw style” collars available, you’ll be able to identify genuine ones by the logo on the collar.
Although they might look identical, the knock-offs aren’t nearly as durable, the clamping force is weaker, and the plastic is prone to cracking. Genuine Lock-Jaw collars are made of durable ABS plastic and offer a more snug fit than what spring collars do.
Additionally, they’re far easier to get on and off the sleeve. While they’re slightly more expensive than spring collars, Lock-Jaw collars won’t damage or scratch your barbell sleeves as spring collars can.
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Spinlock collars are very easy to use but can only be used with a spinlock barbell. These barbells feature threaded sleeves, and the collars screw on in a similar way to a nut and bolt.
You’ll often see these collars being used on adjustable dumbbells too. Since they're only able to fit on standard-size barbells, you won't be able to do any heavy weightlifting with them.
Spinlock collars are made using metal (like steel), or they can be made using vinyl too. Either way, many lifters struggle to get a tight clamp with these collars. Additionally, using spinlock collars can be tedious to put on and remove from the sleeves.
However, while spinlock collars might loosen slightly, they won’t ever slide completely off the barbell.
Read Also - What Length Barbell Do I Need?
Another brand-name collar, SnapClips, works in a similar way to those snap bracelets from the 90s. They snap onto the barbell sleeve and are secured with a Velcro strip. SnapClips offer a decent grip, ensuring that your weight plates won’t budge.
They’re also extremely lightweight and won’t scratch or damage the sleeves. To remove the collar, simply lift the Velcro strip and pull the SnapClips off the bar. On the outside, SnapClips are made using a military-grade Kevlar, reinforced with a high-strength rubber/fabric blend.
Inside, there are steel springs that give SteelClips their ‘snap-on’ ability. SnapClips come in a wide variety of colors and designs to suit your taste. They’re also compatible with a variety of barbell types from 1.5” to 2.5” bars, including specialty bars.
Related Article - Complete Guide To Barbell Knurling
Muscle Clamp Collars
Like their name suggests - Muscle Clamp collars work by using a clamping force to provide a secure grip.
These collars feature a lever arm that locks/unlocks the collar and are lined with rubber for added grip to the barbell sleeve. This also helps prevent scratches and keeps the sleeve protected. Muscle Clamps come in a small selection of colors, including black, blue, orange, or red.
Additionally, they’re available in two size options to fit either a standard or an Olympic size barbell. Like the Lock-Jaw collars, Muscle Clamp collars are also made using durable ABS plastic. Their quick-release feature, allowing you to switch out your plates fast, has made these collars a popular choice.
See Also - How Much Does A Barbell Weigh?
Proloc collars are both lightweight and durable. They work by turning the knob to secure the collar to the barbell sleeve, offering a strong grip. Made from 1.75" thick high-strength nylon, Proloc collars are designed for Olympic size barbells only.
However, they are compatible with most barbell types, including Olympic, powerlifting, log, cambered, Swiss, and safety squat bars. Aside from the Proloc-1 (the original model), there are also other models available that are designed for training with chains and bands.
They also have a model suited for StrongMan training, which fits a 1.9” barbell. Additionally, the Proloc-1 is available with or without embedded magnets. Proloc collars come in a large variety of color options, as well as a 2-year warranty period.
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Made from 6061 billet aircraft-grade aluminum alloy, OSO collars are also lightweight but still durable. They’re designed to withstand repeated, high-impact drops without compromising their grip on the barbell.
OSO collars are very easy to attach and remove from the sleeve, with a simple lever that locks/unlocks the collar. Although they work in a similar fashion to Muscle Clamp collars, OSO collars offer a better visual appeal.
They’re available in a choice of metallic color options, including blue, green, orange, pink, purple, red, gold, and gunmetal grey. OSO collars are slightly more expensive than compared to Muscle Clamps.
However, OSO collars are made using metal rather than plastic, which provides added durability and isn’t prone to cracking with old-age like plastic is.
Finally, we have competitions collars. As the name suggests, these collars are used in the competitive weightlifting scene. This means that they need to be made according to exact specifications set out by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) and/or the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF).
Specifically, they must weigh 2.5 kilograms each, which is around 5.5 pounds. Competition collars are made of steel and are usually chrome plated. Additionally, they feature a lever handle to tighten/loosen the collar.
Since competition collars are used in heavy-weight competitions, they deliver a strong, secure grip. They’re also designed to be fairly compact, freeing up space on the bar and allowing you to load up more weight.
How Much Do Barbell Collars Weigh?
With so many different types of barbell collars available, how much each one weighs depends on which type you buy. For example, SnapClips are ultra-lightweight and weigh just 6.4 ounces per pair.
Whereas competition collars are required to be a fixed 5 kilograms (around 176 ounces or 11 pounds) per pair. For all of the other types of barbell collars, they average between 12 to 16 ounces per pair.
Since each collar type is made with a different material, including ABS plastic, aluminum, Kevlar, steel, and more, this causes variances in weight. Additionally, it’s important to remember that barbell collars of the same type can also vary in weight.
Spinlock Collars are a good example of this since they are available in either steel or vinyl plastic options. Steel is obviously heavier than plastic. Below is an average weight for each barbell collar type:
Barbell Collar Type
Weight (per pair)
Spinlock Collars (steel)
Muscle Clamp Collars
176.37 oz (5kg)
How To Correctly Use Barbell Collars In The Gym
Regardless of the type of barbell collar you're using, they are all very simple and straightforward to use. However, some collars (like spring collars) will require more hand/grip strength than other types.
This is because to expand the collar opening to attach or remove it from the barbell sleeve, you need to squeeze the handles together.
When using a barbell collar, you want to ensure that you’re not just clipping it onto the bar but that you’ve also secured it properly. How do you know it’s secured properly? There should be no wiggle room for the weight plates to move. In fact, you should actually be able to stand the barbell vertically, and the weight plates should stay intact.
To ensure the collars are attached securely, slide your weight plates onto the barbell sleeve and then press them firmly toward the center of the bar. Slide on/ attach your barbell collar to the sleeve, also pushing it toward the center of the bar before securing the collar. The majority of barbell collars are secured using either a lever arm or knob to clamp onto the sleeve.
When using spinlock collars, many lifters don’t feel like they can get the collar to fasten tightly enough. However, there is actually a way to properly tighten them in order to get a strong grip.
Load your plates onto the bar and tighten the spinlock collar as much as you can. Next, hold the sleeve to ensure that it does not move. Turn the weight plate closest to the collar clockwise. As you do this, you should notice the collar turning and tightening at the same time.
Despite the type of barbell collar, you should always ensure that it’s designed for the barbell size you’re using it on (either standard or Olympic). Additionally, you also want to ensure that it’s compatible with the barbell type, particularly if you’re using a specialty bar.
Frequently Asked Barbell Collar Questions
Do spring collars work on threaded bars?
No, they don’t. When using a threaded barbell, you have to use threaded collars. Using spring collars, or anything other than threaded collars, will not be able to secure properly onto the barbell sleeve and will almost certainly come off along with the weight plates. This can be particularly dangerous when doing overhead lifts.
Why don’t I need to use a collar when using a landmine attachment?
When using a landmine attachment, the weight plates stay in place due to the angle of the barbell. This means that it’s not necessary to use a collar, since there is no risk of the plates sliding off.
What type of collar works best if I regularly drop a loaded bar as part of my workout program?
OSO Collars are the best option if you’re going to be dropping the barbell regularly. They’re made 6061 billet aircraft-grade aluminum and are designed to withstand repeated, high-impact drops without compromising their grip on the barbell sleeve or coming loose.
That wraps up our comprehensive guide to barbell collars. We hope that all of your questions and concerns have been covered. Now that you know what barbell collars are, the different types of barbell collars available, and how to correctly use them - you’ll be able to add them to your home gym and achieve your weightlifting goals in no time!
Last Updated on June 25, 2022
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