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A barbell is one of the most essential pieces of a home gym. When you’re spending a lot of money on one, you need to store it properly to ensure it will last for as long as possible.
So how do you properly store a barbell? Your barbell should be stored off the ground in a dry place away from direct sunlight without any weights on it. Storing it horizontally either on your squat rack or on a wall-mounted barbell rack is best, but depending on the type of barbell you have, you can store it vertically if you need to save space.
Not storing a barbell the right way can cause rust, scratches, or wearing down of the knurling. These issues won’t necessarily make the barbell unusable, but you should still do your best to store it in such a way that will reduce the likelihood of damage occurring.
In this article, I’ll discuss all the reasons you need to store your barbell properly, share recommendations from some of the top barbell manufacturers, and talk about my own personal experience with storing my barbell.
I’ll also share some barbell storage ideas and discuss some things you should avoid when storing your barbell.
Why It’s Important To Store Your Barbell Properly: Personal Experience
1. Space Requirements
If your home gym is like mine, it’s in a garage that’s not dedicated solely to housing workout equipment. You may also keep your car in your garage or use the rest of the space for storage, and you don’t have a lot of room to leave your barbell out in the open when you’re not using it.
Properly storing your barbell is essential so you not only have room for other things but also so you can prevent it from damage from any other equipment you leave in your garage such as lawnmowers or snowblowers.
2. Protecting the Barbell Integrity
Since most barbells aren’t cheap, you’ll want to do whatever you can to ensure it lasts for a decent amount of time. That means making sure the knurling doesn’t start to become too soft, the sleeves don’t get scratched, and rust or corrosion doesn’t cause the barbell’s material to weaken over time.
And if you have a weightlifting barbell, you’ll also want to make sure you don’t ruin its ability to spin quickly and freely due to improper storage methods.
If you’re a female weightlifter and don’t yet have a barbell for your home gym, check out my top 10 women’s weightlifting barbells.
3. Avoiding Rust
How likely your bar is to develop rust depends on what it’s made out of. Stainless steel and chrome are the least likely to rust. Bare steel, zinc-coated, and black oxide-coated barbells tend to rust fairly quickly. Even cerakote isn’t impervious to rust, though it won’t corrode as quickly or significantly as other materials.
Regardless of what material your bar is made out of, it doesn’t hurt to take some precautions against the potential for rust. Keeping it away from places where it can get hit with water or accumulate moisture from humidity is important.
You can also cover it with a tarp or protective sleeve, though you’ll want to make sure the bar is completely dry before you do so to prevent moisture from getting trapped underneath the covering.
4. Keeping It Out of the Way of Animals and Children
Not storing your barbell properly in a room that children and pets have access to is just asking for a potential disaster.
For example, a child or pet can accidentally knock it over and injure themselves if you just leave it leaned up vertically against a wall. A curious toddler can also get hurt if you take your eyes off them for a second and they try to pick up your barbell.
5. Not Voiding the Manufacturer’s Warranty
Most, if not all, barbell manufacturers offer a warranty when you buy a product from them. Each brand will have its own stipulations, but many warranties state that if the barbell is damaged from some kind of user error, the warranty is voided.
Rogue Fitness, for example, states that the lifetime warranty on their products is voided if damage occurs due to negligence or faulty handling or storage from the user.
So if you want to make sure your barbell’s warranty remains intact, take good care of it and store it properly.
Barbell Storage Guidelines: What Manufacturers Recommended
I reached out to some of the top barbell manufacturers including Rogue, Titan Fitness, Fringe Sport, and ProSource Fitness to get their recommendations on how to properly store a barbell.
Much of their advice dealt with how to store their own unique products, but there were some common recommendations from each company. Here is what they had to say.
Rogue wasn’t able to offer an official recommendation on how to properly store a barbell, as the storage method depends on your own personal preference, what kind of barbell you have, and what kind of squat rack you own.
The type of squat rack you have will determine if any of Rogue’s barbell storage attachments are compatible with it while the kind of barbell you have will determine whether or not you should store it vertically or horizontally.
According to the customer service rep I spoke to, either type of storage will protect the integrity of the barbell. However, as I’ll discuss further down in this article, you have to take some precautions when doing so.
Fringe Sport also didn’t offer an official recommendation, but the customer service rep I spoke to told me that barbells can be stored in a squat rack, on a wall-mounted horizontal rack, or in a vertical barbell holder.
Prosource Fitness recommends vertical storage if you have more than one barbell or if you have specialty bars like a trap bar that are shorter than an Olympic barbell and won’t fit on most horizontal racks. With a vertical storage rack, it’s easier to fit different-sized barbells together like a puzzle.
Titan Fitness recommends storing a barbell horizontally to keep it away dust and dirt that can transfer onto the barbell from the floor. Because the floor is the most humid part of the room, leaving your barbell on the ground can also cause it to rust faster.
Titan also recommends horizontal storage to ensure that any lubrication from the bushings or bearings doesn’t leak.
Barbell Storage Guidelines: What I Recommend
I’ve had my home gym for over four years now, and I’ve managed to keep my barbell damage-free over all those years.
If you also want to keep your barbell free from damage for several years, one of the first things I recommend is buying a high-quality bar.
You don’t have to spend more than $200-$300 if you can’t afford to, but a barbell isn’t something you should skimp on. Cheaper barbells will rust or wear down more quickly no matter how well you store them. To prevent yourself from having to replace your barbell often, get a good one from the start.
The next thing you should do is consider the size of your space. I don’t have a lot of free wall space in my garage, and there’s barely enough floor space for a vertical storage rack. I keep my Rogue Bella bar on my squat rack.
My squat rack is old and doesn’t have plastic-lined J-cups, but I’ve never had issues with the barbell getting scratched. I also live in an area where my barbell is exposed to freezing temperatures as well as heat and humidity. The finish has become dull over time, but the bar still performs well. This is another reason why I recommend investing in a high-quality barbell.
If you are able to get a squat rack with plastic-lined J-cups, that will give you some extra peace of mind when it comes to protecting your barbell. And if you have room for a storage rack, I recommend getting one.
As I’ll discuss below, a horizontal rack is best, especially for bars with needle bearings. However, a vertical rack will suffice if you don’t have a lot of wall space.
In fact, the CrossFit gym I used to belong to stored its Bella and Rogue bars from Rogue Fitness vertically. Other than the wear and tear of being used by multiple people multiple times per day, the bars held up well.
4 Ways You Can Store Your Barbell
1. Horizontal Wall Rack
As I discussed above, storing your barbell horizontally is best. It keeps the weight evenly distributed and prevents the lubrication from leaking out of one end of the bar.
One of the best horizontal storage racks for a home gym is the Rogue 3 Bar Gun Rack. Most horizontal racks are made to fit 6 or 9 barbells, which is way more than most home gym owners have. You may not even have 3 barbells, but the Rogue gun rack is one of the smallest horizontal storage solutions available.
You also have the option of getting this gun rack with plastic-lined J-cups for added protection against scratches on your barbell.
2. Vertical Storage Holder
Vertical storage racks like the Rogue 9 bar holder are ideal for home gym owners who don’t have enough wall space for a horizontal rack. They’re also a good option if you have multiple bars that are different sizes such as a trap bar or an EZ curl bar, which may not fit well on a horizontal rack.
If you’re really tight on space, you may even want to consider the vertical bar hanger from Rogue. The 3-bar hanger is only 12” long, so you can mount it behind a door if you don’t have room for it elsewhere in your home gym. The only drawback is that it’s not recommended for use with specialty bars.
If you only have one or two barbells in your home gym, a vertical barbell holder that attaches to your squat rack like this vertical barbell holder from Titan Fitness is a good option. It saves both floor and wall space if your home gym is particularly small.
Trying to build a home gym but don’t have a lot of space? Check out my sample floor plans for small home gyms for ideas on everything you can fit in home gyms ranging from 100-500 sq ft.
One thing to keep in mind is that vertical storage isn’t the best for barbells with bearings, which is commonly seen in Olympic weightlifting bars. Bearings are needles, small balls, or rotary thrust bearings that allow the sleeves to spin, which is necessary for the changing directions of the bar in snatches and clean jerks.
Dropping barbells with bearings into a vertical holder can damage the bearings since only one end of the bar is absorbing the shock. There’s also a chance that the spin can become uneven if you store the barbell on the same end every time.
I also know people who have scratched their barbell sleeves from trying to get the barbell into the hole of a vertical rack. But you can prevent this by putting the barbell inside the storage peg straight up and down. If you lean it against the hole on an angle first and then try to slide it in, that friction can scratch the sleeves.
3. Leave It on Your Squat Rack
As I mentioned earlier, I leave my barbell on my squat rack, and it hasn’t warped or gotten scratched yet. This is one of the most ideal options for anyone else who doesn’t have the extra wall or floor space for a storage rack.
Storing your barbell on your squat rack will allow you to keep your barbell off the ground where people can’t trip over it. There are also fewer chances of it collecting dirt or dust, and it won’t get wet if the room your home gym is in is prone to flooding.
4. DIY Storage Rack
If you enjoy building things, you can build your own barbell storage rack. While it will require more manual labor on your part, it will be cheaper, and you can create a custom storage rack that will fit your exact space.
Below are several examples of ways you can build a DIY barbell storage rack.
DIY Vertical Barbell Storage Rack
What You Need:
- 1 concrete block (you can find one at your local hardware store)
- A thin piece of plywood to protect your floor while you assemble your storage rack (you can also find this at a hardware store)
How To Build It:
- Cut the PVC pipe into four 12” – 15” pieces (they should stick up a couple of inches above the inside of the concrete block)
- Cover the holes of the PVC pipes with tape
- Place the cut PVC pieces in the center of the concrete block with the tape facing the ceiling, making sure to space them out evenly while leaving a couple of inches of clearance along the edges of the concrete
- Mix the concrete mix in the bucket
- Pour the concrete until it covers about 2” of the inside of the concrete block
- If the PVC pieces tilted when you poured the concrete, adjust them so they’re completely vertical
- Let the concrete dry for an hour
- Lift the block up on its side to make sure the concrete on the bottom has dried
- Pour in some more concrete until there’s only about an inch of space left along the edges
- Let the rest of the concrete dry
- Move the block to where you want to keep it in your gym and store your barbells
If you’re more of a visual person, you can follow along with this YouTube video instead:
DIY Horizontal Barbell Storage Rack
What You Need:
- 2”x4” pieces of wood (you can get them at a hardware store), cut into equal-sized pieces that are the length of your barbell minus the sleeves
- A drill bit smaller than the threads on the bike hooks (this isn’t necessary but can help you screw the bike hooks in more easily)
How To Build It:
- Use the stud finder to locate the studs to drill the screws into
- Nail one piece of wood to your wall horizontally. I recommend keeping it at about waist height depending on how many barbells you need to store.
- Drill the screws into the wood about 6” apart
- Take another piece of wood and stack it vertically at the end of the horizontal piece
- Nail it to the wall with the screws 6” apart
- Take the third piece of wood and stack it vertically on the other end of the horizontal piece
- Screw one nail into the bottom to secure it into place
- Use the tape measure as a guide to mark the nail holes on the second vertical piece of wood to ensure the screws line up with the ones on the first piece
- Drill screws on the marks you just created on the second vertical piece of wood
- Drill a hole on one of the vertical posts with your drill bit
- Do the same thing on the opposite side, making sure the holes are lined up
- Screw a bike hook into each hole
- Repeat until you have enough storage hooks to store all of your barbells
For an in-depth look at how to install this barbell storage rack, check out this YouTube video:
DIY Options That Don’t Require Assembly
If you’re not handy, don’t want to leave your barbell on your squat rack, or can’t afford a storage rack, you can also try one of the following DIY barbell storage ideas:
- Get a couple of sandbags from your local hardware store so you can elevate it at least a few inches off the ground.
- Leave it on two stacks of plates.
- Spread two sturdy chairs far apart from one another and lay your barbell across them. You can put inexpensive yoga mats on the chairs first if you don’t want the barbell coming into direct contact with them.
Related Article: How To Store Dumbbells At Home (My Top 4 Favorite Ways)
6 Things To Avoid When Storing A Barbell
Once you’ve decided how you’re going to store your barbell, there are a few things you need to avoid doing before you leave it on your squat rack or in a storage rack.
1. Leaving It Outside Uncovered
Leaving your barbell outside, especially if it’s uncovered, can lead to rust or the wearing down of the finish on your barbell. Pollen can accumulate on it in the spring and fall and get caught in the bushings or bearings. And while leaving it in direct sunlight won’t damage it, it can burn your hands on a hot day.
Another reason to avoid leaving your barbell outside is to keep it away from wildlife. Small rodents like mice and chipmunks are good climbers, and they may try to climb up your squat rack and crawl across your barbell. Birds may also find it to be an enticing perch and leave droppings behind.
And even if an animal’s claws or talons aren’t large enough to cause any significant damage to your barbell, you likely won’t want to touch something that a potentially diseased animal has just been sitting on.
2. Not Cleaning It Before You Store It
I’m guilty of this when I’m tired and hungry after a workout, but not cleaning your barbell before you store it can cause it to get damaged sooner, especially if you use a lot of chalk.
Think about the purpose of chalk — it absorbs measure from your hands. Leaving chalk residue behind on your barbell means that it will absorb moisture from the air, which is one of the things that causes it to rust.
It’s also important to note that how you clean your barbell matters as well. If all you need to do is get leftover chalk out of it, rubbing it with a nylon-bristled brush will suffice. But if you want to give it a more thorough cleaning to disinfect it, you should use cleansers that don’t contain alcohol, bleach, and ammonia.
3. Leaving Weights on the Bar
Leaving your barbell on a squat rack with weights loaded on it for a long time can cause it to develop a permanent bend.
Leaving one 10lb plate on each side overnight won’t do much damage, but if you leave several 45lb plates on it and then don’t touch it for months, you’re putting unnecessary stress on the bar that can lead to permanent damage.
4. Leaving It on the Floor
Your floor is the closest place to dust and dirt that can accumulate on your barbell. Heat and cold air also travel up from the floor pretty easily, so you’d be leaving your barbell too close to the warmest or coldest part of your home gym. And if your garage or basement floods during heavy rainstorms, your barbell can get submerged.
Insects that find their way into your garage may also want to make a home near objects that are close to the ground. I get a lot of spiders in my garage in the summer, and they like to make webs around the bottom of the posts on my squat rack. I know if I left my barbell on the floor, they would probably create webs around that, too.
If you want to keep your barbell from being the home of anything with eight legs, keep it elevated when you’re not using it.
5. Not Oiling It Frequently Enough
It’s usually not enough to simply wipe down your barbell or brush the sweat and chalk residue off of it before you store it. Oiling your barbell a couple of times per month is also necessary for boosting its longevity and protecting it from damage when it’s stored.
Cleaning it and then wiping it down with 3-in-1 oil or mineral oil adds a protective coating to it without affecting the knurling. That coating not only keeps the bar looking new but allows the bushings or bearings to spin easily and protects the bar from scratches and corrosion.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Store a Barbell Vertically?
Storing a barbell horizontally is best, but some barbells can be stored vertically. A barbell with bushings can better withstand vertical storage than a barbell with bearings. However, you should clean it well before you store it so dust, chalk residue, and lubrication don’t travel onto the sleeve closest to the floor.
Can You Keep a Barbell Outside?
You shouldn’t keep a barbell outside. Rain, snow, humidity, and overnight dew can all cause moisture to accumulate on the bar, leading to rust. Leaving it in direct sunlight can make the bar too hot to hold and burn your hands. Small animals can also crawl on it and scratch it or leave germs behind.
How Do You Keep a Barbell From Rusting?
To prevent rust on a barbell, don’t leave it on the ground where it can come into contact with water. If you train outdoors, you should bring it inside when you’re not using it so it’s not exposed to rain, snow, or humidity. You should also use a nylon brush to wipe chalk and sweat off the barbell after each workout.
Should You Store Barbells With Weights on Them?
Storing a barbell with weights on it isn’t recommended. Leaving too much weight on it for a long time can cause it to bend from the prolonged pressure of the plates being placed on it.
Other Barbell Resources
- 8 Different Types of Squat Bars & Their Uses
- 7 Different Types of Bench Press Bars & Their Uses
- 5 Different Types of Deadlift Bars & Their Uses
- Barbell Sleeve Replacement: How Do You Fix A Barbell Sleeve?
- 10 Best Budget Barbells (That Are Still High Quality)
Properly storing your barbell is necessary so you can protect the knurling, keep it away from pets and children, and reduce the likelihood of permanent damage.
Most barbells can be stored either vertically or horizontally, but a barbell with bearings should always be stored horizontally. It’s also important to keep your barbell off the ground, in a dry environment, and without any weights on it.
Most fitness equipment manufacturers offer barbell storage solutions like the 3 bar gun rack from Rogue or the vertical barbell holder from Titan Fitness. But if you want to save money and make your own storage rack, you can do so with supplies that you can buy online or at a hardware store.
About The Author
Amanda Dvorak is a freelance writer and powerlifting enthusiast. Amanda played softball for 12 years and discovered her passion for fitness when she was in college. It wasn’t until she started CrossFit in 2015 that she became interested in powerlifting and realized how much she loves lifting heavy weights. In addition to powerlifting, Amanda also enjoys running and cycling.