Barbells are only meant to temporarily carry the heavy weights that they do. When you are done with a workout, you need to know where you’re going to store your barbell and how to prevent wear and tear. Worse still, if you were to leave weights on the barbell, you risk it getting warped over time – even if its construction and engineering are solid.
But more than that, it turns out that storing it on the ground, propped up on a wall, or even storing it vertically can all also cause problems. It’s actually not all the easy to figure out a great solution for barbell storage.
Barbells are engineered to withstand a lot of weight on their horizontal axis at the expense of their vertical axis. Because of this, long-term storage in a vertical position can also damage your bar. In this article, we’ll dive into the best ways to store your barbells and how to get the best long-term use out of them.
Different ways to store your barbells
First things first, if you only have one barbell and don’t plan on getting any more (which is common for most home gyms, so don’t worry!), you don’t need to do much in the way of storage. It’s OK to leave it on your rack and be done with it. However, if you have more barbells, this article is for you.
When it comes down to it, there are only two ways to store barbells: horizontally and vertically. Horizontally is the best option for reasons we’ll get into, but for many people, the ease of storing the bars vertically is well worth it, so we’ll explore vertical options as well.
The reason barbells have unique storage concerns is that they can get bent and warped with improper storage techniques. They can also get corroded prematurely, scratched easily, and otherwise fall apart earlier than they should. That’s why proper storage of barbells is something that careful home gym users should be thinking about.
The Best Way – Horizontal Storage
Horizontal storage is the best way to store your barbells for a few reasons.
First and foremost, barbells are engineered to carry weight on their horizontal axis. The bushings and bearings of your barbell are what help with this. To carry the maximum weight for their size and cost, they are designed to withstand pressure on this axis only. This means that the metal and construction are built so that when the bar carries tons of weight on its sleeves, it can bear that downward pressure for at least a short period of time (this point will become important up later!).
When your barbell is stored in a vertical position, or worse if weights are left on it, you risk damaging it irreparably. They were simply not designed to deal with the weight coming from that direction nor for long periods of time.
The other, less important reason for storing your barbell horizontally is lubrication. Inside your barbell’s bearings and bushings, there’s a layer of oil to allow for movement of the weights onto and off the sleeve. But this can be a problem for storage. This lubricant can escape if the barbell is stored vertically. If this happens, the worst that can happen is that you might have to re-lube your barbell after a particularly long storage period. Of course, the oil might also drip on other things, but overall it’s not such a big deal.
So, now that we know why storing barbells in the horizontal position is better, what are the best storage solutions for them available at this time, accounting for quality, space, and money?
Well, basically, there are two different types of solutions: a gun rack or a wall mount.
A gun rack is the best all-in-one solution but can get a little pricier for what is essentially just a storage unit. I have to admit, though, the finished look does look sleek on a wall though, and compared to a wall mount, it can also be easier to get all the pieces aligned and looking good. You also know what you’re purchasing is meant for holding and storing barbells, whereas wall mounts, as we shall see, are really just heavy-duty all-purpose hooks put into walls.
#1- Rogue 3 BAR GUN RACK
I say ‘with plastic included’ because if you’re going for this high end of a solution anyway, the plastic foam will really give that extra protection you’re looking for when you rack your barbells. Otherwise, they might get scratched by the metal-on-metal contact. This isn’t a huge deal, but again, if you’ve already gone this far, might as well get the best.
The gun rack will mount to any kind of solid wall, including concrete or cinder block, but will require your own mounting hardware. To purchase some, you’re looking at another $10-$20, but kits can last you for multiple projects, so it’s really up to you how far one will go.
Rogue recommends 0.3125” diameter hardware for this particular gun rack. Their design also allows for mounting to support either the sleeves or the shaft of standard barbells, depending on how you set it up.
#2- Yes4All Horizontal Wall Mounted Olympic Barbell Rack - 3 Bar Vertical Barbell Storage Rack - Weight...See latest price
If you like the idea of a gun rack but don’t need Rogue-level brand name recognition, you can go for Yes4All’s Horizontal Wall Mounted Olympic Barbell Rack at $36.50 for the 3 bar version or $62.50 for the 6 bar. This one comes with the plastic already included in the price, with heavy steel construction in all black.
The UHMW plastic padding will help to prevent scratches, and it sports a seven gauge steel design which is the same strength as Rogue’s barbell storage rack. Similarly, you can mount it wide or narrow in order to fit the sleeves or the shaft of your barbells.
So, if you’re looking for a similar design to the Rogue one but a better deal, this may be your best bet. Again, you’ll be needing your own mounting hardware, so be sure to factor that into the final cost.
#3- Garage Storage Utility Hooks, Wall Mount Hanging Hooks, Steel U-Hooks Tool Organizer Holder, 2-Pack...See latest price
Now, another option is wall-mounted hooks. You can purchase these easily enough from Walmart, Home Depot, or Amazon. They aren’t specifically made for storing barbells, but they do the trick. Here’s a good option I found on Amazon: Sandel’s Wall Mount Hanging Hooks available for $11 a pair.
There are other color options in orange and grey, but I went with black because I found it looks best. Feel free to choose whichever suits you. Each pair will let you mount one barbell, and the plastic coating on the hook will give you a similar kind of protection as a gun rack’s UHMW plastic. The best part is, you won’t need to add mounting gear expenses on top of these, because that’s exactly what they’re made for.
In addition, with a wall mount, you’ll get more customization as to the number of barbells you want to store. This is helpful if you have exactly two, four, or five barbells to store and don’t want to leave an ugly gap in your gun rack.
Personally, I think the gun rack looks better and is easier to install evenly than a bunch of individual hooks. Even so, I’ve got to admit it’s a solid solution, especially for those DIYers out there.
The other major option is to go for vertical storage. We’ve already mentioned that barbells are not designed to withstand weight on the vertical axis, and that’s why vertical storage is not recommended when compared with horizontal storage.
But let’s be honest, it’s easier, cheaper, and simpler to store barbells vertically, so most people will at least consider it as an option. But most importantly, a barbell stand takes up much less space in a home gym.
Many people will have a lot of their at-home gym equipment pushed up against their walls and perhaps even one wall covered in mirrors. There’s just no room for a horizontal set-up in such a space. Plus, figuring out the studs and mounting a horizontal set-up can be a pain. It’s much easier just to buy a vertical stand and be done with it.
In this category, the most common solutions are vertical bar stands that securely hold either five or nine bars upright using a series of metal tubes. Usually, you’ll want a secure hold and some kind of cushion to hold each bar in one of these stands. Unfortunately, none of them are really premade like that, so you’ll have to figure out your own solution.
Also, one thing to note if you are using vertical storage. If your barbells have bushings, there is much less risk of lubrication problems and damage. In that case, vertical storage is probably fine, just be sure to flip which side it’s being held up with whenever you can. But if your barbells use bearings, the risk with improper storage is much greater and you’ll want to consider a horizontal solution more seriously. Just something to note before we move on.
#4- Rogue 9 Bar Holder
Rogue’s solution in this category, the Rogue 9 Bar Holder, is pricey at $145, but works well for what it is and looks great. The tubes greatly improved their previous build, which was simply two metal plates with holes cut between them. There were no tubes to rest and support the barbells in.
With the new design, the tubes hold your barbells securely and keep them from getting scratched up. This also helps prevent them from leaning in any particular direction, which can also cause the metal to bend. However, even with this improvement, I think most of us would feel safer with a solution that also uses plastic or foam to beef up the scratch protection, especially at this price point.
Since there are few or no storage solutions out there with this kind of protection built into the vertical stand, you can make your own by placing rubber or foam into the slots. This will let the barbells properly rest.
#5- Yes4All Barbell Holder 9 Bars Vertical Storage Display Rack for Olympic BarSee latest price
For $73, you can get Yes4All’s 5 bar Barbell Holder, which works similarly but for only five barbells. I think the design is a little worse in the looks department, but the price point is more attractive, especially if you only need the five slots. It also takes up less square footage which is nice. The overall quality seems about as good as Rogue’s, with a similar black powdered heavy gauge steel construction and laser-cut parts. You really can’t go wrong with this one either.
#6- Eapele Barbell Storage Holder for Olympic Bars EZ-Bars Trap Bars (5 Bars)See latest price
For the best budget option overall, but a slightly less secure design (it’s missing a top plate to keep everything in place), you can go for the People Barbell Storage Holder at $49. The design is very minimalistic but perfectly functional, with most of the same features as the other options.
Here’s the final thing to note though: none of these options provides safety against one of the biggest dangers when storing barbells vertically, which is dropping the bar roughly into the slot and scratching it against the metal.
Obviously, the first thing you’ll want to do is always try to place the bars gently back into their slots. But let’s be honest, you’re not always going to do that, especially after a grueling workout. So, I recommend placing some foam, rubber, or other protection at the bottom of each tube.
That way even if you forget to place the barbell back gently, you won’t get any nasty surprises. You could even stuff newspapers or similar in there as a temporary solution. Anything to prevent the barbell from bouncing around down there and getting everything scratched up.
This actually brings us to our final option for barbell storage, which are some DIY storage solutions.
DIY Storage Solutions
Later, you’ll see why having no storage solution and just using the floor or a wall can be a big problem for your barbells. But there are storage solutions you can do at home that avoid the major problems of those storage problems while costing you next to nothing.
First, there’s an age-old trick of taking about three weight plates and stacking them on top of one another on the ground. Line up all their holes and make sure they are facing vertically upward. Then, place the barbell through the holes like a flag in a flagpole, and voila! You have a vertical storage solution.
Obviously, this takes up a bit of space, doesn’t look great, and is pretty makeshift, but it works. In a pinch, this is especially good if you just have one extra barbell that doesn’t fit on your rack but you don’t want to invest in a more permanent solution.
Another fun solution is to just use some PVC piping. You can attach a cut pipe to the side of your weight rack or similar, place some foam at the bottom, and you’ve got the barbell holder, no problem.
Of course, plastic tubing is a much weaker solution than a metal one would be, but it’s better than nothing and does protect your bar. Plus you might already have some extra PVC piping lying around.
Lastly, just as a fun head’s up, hex deadlift bars have sleeves that don’t rotate, so they don’t have any bearings, bushings, or other moving parts to worry about. You can safely store these vertically with no issues. This is a good tip for those looking to save some money.
How Not to Store your Barbells
Now, you might be asking, but you haven’t explained why I can’t just leave my barbells on the floor or just stand them up against a wall or in a corner?
Leaning your barbell on a wall
The forces involved in leaning your barbell in any direction other than straight upwards are not good. You are essentially having the weight concentrated into one weak point that may eventually weaken or bend. That’s why all the vertical racks have the barbell stand straight upwards at a 90-degree angle to the floor. This leaves little to no weak points which can bend in the barbell.
Placing your barbell on the floor
The main dangers of leaving your barbell on the floor for storage have to do with dirt and humidity. By placing your barbell on the floor, it’s going to pick up dirt and grime which will not only scratch the barbell, but can get into the sleeves and cause problems down the road. Second and more dangerously, rooms are most humid on the ground. This can cause corrosion.
The danger of metal-on-metal contact
Another thing to look out for is metal-on-metal contact, which we’ve mentioned before. It’s going to cause scratching, which is more a cosmetic problem than anything else, but it’s still annoying. But most bars nowadays also have a protective finish against corrosion, and this can make scratches even more of a problem. That’s why we’ve always recommended plastic and foam protection whenever it’s available for any of the solutions, but ultimately it’s up to you.
Never store your barbell with weights still on it
Finally, we mentioned it right up top, but it bears repeating. Do not store your barbell with weights still on it. This is probably the worst thing you could do on this entire list, as it is the most likely to cause damage to the barbell in the least amount of time. This is because, while the barbell is made to deal with weight on the horizontal axis extremely well, as we said, it can only do that for a relatively short period of time. Leaving 100s of pounds of weight on the thing for long periods of time is sure to strain, if not bend and break the metal in no time.
Barbell Storage FAQs
Is it bad to leave weights on your barbell?
Yes! This is explained more in detail in the article, but essentially this is the worst thing you can do in terms of storage practice for barbells. Yes, your barbell is meant to support that weight, but only temporarily. If you leave heavy weights on the barbell for long periods of time, it will likely bend from the prolonged pressure, ruining the bar permanently. It is always better to store your barbell with all weights removed, as this is the easiest way to cause it permanent damage.
Is it bad to store barbells vertically?
Often yes, it isn’t ideal. You should store your barbells horizontally if at all possible. However, because it is cheaper, takes up less room, and easier to store them vertically, many people do so anyway. It also depends on the type of sleeve, as bearings tend to have more problems being stored vertically than bushings.
Can you store your barbells outside?
Yes, but it is not recommended. One of the dangers we mention for barbell storage is humidity. The more water that sits on the barbell for more time, the faster the corrosion process on the steel will happen. Dirt and other contaminants can also be a problem if you are leaving the barbells on the ground outside. But if you are leaving them in a relatively dry place outdoors and off the ground, then storing them outdoors is fine.
At what weight does a barbell bend?
This depends on the barbell, but holding 200 pounds for a prolonged period of time will bend most standard barbells. Try not to overexert your barbells as much as well, using the right amount of weight for the strength of the barbell itself. If you are just using the barbell for the course of the workout, however, it’ll be able to handle a much larger amount of weight. Don’t let that fool you into thinking it can withstand that pressure long-term.
We’ve found out that there are essentially two main ways to store your barbells, horizontally and vertically. Horizontally is the best way because that’s the way barbells are designed to hold weight, it keeps them off the ground, and lowers the chance of scratching. It also doesn’t cause problems with the lubricating oil. Even so, vertically storing your bars can also be enticing because it is cheaper, easier, and takes up less space. But, there are quite a few pitfalls with vertical storage to look out for.
Finally, there are good reasons not to store your barbells on the ground or leaning up against a wall. That’s the reason for getting one of the storage solutions mentioned in this article, or building your own. Whatever solution you choose, be sure to take good care of your barbells and in turn they’ll take care of themselves for you.