Whether you’re looking to build your strength or you want to define your muscles and chisel your physique, you may be thinking about adding a set of barbells or weight plates to your home gym setup.
While you’re obviously going to want to research the barbells or weight plates to ensure that you’re investing in the best equipment to suit your unique needs, there’s another key component that you definitely don’t want to overlook: barbell collars.
These clamps are vital for maintaining safety, as they secure removable weight plates onto the barbells, thus preventing them from slipping off, and allowing you to get your lifts done safely. Collars are so important many serious lifters invest in their own pair and bring them to the gym, similar to wrist straps, so that they don’t have to share or worry about safety of gym-purchased equipment.
What exactly are barbell clamps and collars? How do they work? Are there different types? To find the answers to these questions and more – as well as a list of our top picks for the best barbell clamps and collars – keep on reading.
What are Barbell Clamps and Collars?
Barbell collars are essentially clamps that attached onto a barbell to secure the weightlifting plates onto the bar. Basically, you slip your weight plates onto the barbell, and then you attach the clamps onto the barbell behind them. When you go to lift your weights, the barbell collars will prevent the weight plates from shifting, slipping, and falling off.
Not only do they protect you from injuries (if you’ve ever had a weight plate drop on a foot or a finger, you know how much pain and damage they can cause), but they also help to protect your equipment from becoming damaged.
Plus, barbell collars can also help to protect anyone who is working out near you, as well as the floor beneath you, and even the surrounding walls, windows, and furnishings, as the clamps prevent the weight plates from becoming heavy projectiles that can cause serious injuries and damages.
Because of the important function that they provide, it’s easy to see why barbell collars and clamps are such a vital part of your home workout equipment setup.
Types of Barbell Collars and Clamps
While shopping for barbell collars might sound like a pretty simple and straightforward task, if you’ve never purchased or used them before, like a lot of people, you may be surprised to learn that it’s actually a bit trickier than it seems.
Why? Well, largely because there are a few different types available, and while they all serve the same basic purpose, they do function a bit differently; therefore, in order to determine which option will best suit your needs, it’s important to understand the difference between the each barbell collar style.
The different types of barbell collars include the following:
Spring Collars: The Best Value Option
Also known as clamp collars, spring collars feature a spring-like structure (hence the name), which generates force that attaches them to the barbell. In order to fix a spring collar to a bar, you just need to lace some pressure onto the handles on either side of the spring, which will increase the diameter of the collar.
When you’ve expanded the diameter of the collar, you can slide it onto and along the bar until the metal sits flush against the plates. Once in place, just release the handle to secure the collar – and the weight places – in place.
These are by far the most common type of barbell/free-weight collar because they are cheap, harder to break, and very easy for amateurs to figure out how to operate safely. Spring collars are the kind of practicality and value.
- Affordably priced
- Easy to use
- They aren’t as durably constructed and reliable as higher quality, more expensive collars and clamps
Snap Lock Collars: The Fast Secure Option
Snap lock barbell collars are circular in shape and feature a clip that opens and closes, tightening and securing the collar to the barbell. There are pressure collars, too, which function similarly to snap lock collars; however, instead of a clip, a handle tightens the collar, securing it to the bar.
Snap lock collars function like a clamp collar, as they apply pressure to the bar to secure the weight plates in place. There are both metal and plastic/nylon options available, with metal being more durable. A high-quality pair of snap lock barbell collars are very reliable and provide the most safety and security.
Snap collars are the fastest way to guarantee a strong hold. Spring collars are fast too but there is very little grip in a coiled spring (metal on metal) as opposed to most snap lock collars that have a rubber gripper material inside and larger surface area with which to hold onto the barbell.
Snap collars are the most convenient but not the cheapest. If you’re sick of chasing down lost collars at your gym it may be worth investing in your own pair of quality snap locks for reliable lifts and less wasted time getting setup for your next set.
- They’re quick and easy to put in place
- They’re very reliable and provide great security
- A good pair of snap lock collars can be a bit pricy
Spin Lock Collars: The Slow Option
Spin lock collars are another options, but it’s important to point out that they can’ be used unless you have a spin lock to attach them onto. Typically, dumbbell and barbell bars are equipped with spin lock collars, and they work much like a nut and bolt; the collar serves as the nut and the bar is the bolt.
The way in which spin lock collars work has to do with Newton’s third law of physiques, which states that, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. In this case, the action is force, and as the collar is tightened, it applies force against the weight plates and the end of the bar, which then applies force onto the threads of the color and holds it – and the weight plates – securely in place.
Spin collars are great if you never change your weight, but if you do pyramid sets or share weights with someone at a different fitness level than you then spinning and un-spinning the spin collar between sets can be very time consuming, to the point where eventually you’ll give up in frustration and go buy a real barbell set with spring or snap collars.
- Usually, spin lock collars are pretty affordable
- They’re ideal for lower weights and home setups
- They’re reliable and easy to use
- A lot of people say that they can’t seem to get spin lock collars tight enough when they first start using them
Factors to Consider When You’re Shopping for Barbell Collars and Clamps
If you’ve never shopped for barbell collars and clamps, you might find it a bit confusing, as you may not know what to look for. To make the process a bit easier, here’s a look at some key factors that you should take into consideration when you’re shopping:
- The type. First and foremost, you want to consider which type will best suit your needs. To decide which type to use, read through the descriptions above, as those descriptions will help you decide what will work best for you. Also, consider how you’ll be using the weights. If you’re just going to be doing some light workouts at home, then spring-style may be suitable; however, if you’re intending on training for a competition and will be lifting some seriously heavy weights, snap lock collars may be the best choice for you.
- The material. It’s also a good idea to consider the material that they’re made of. You want to be sure that they’re as durably constructed as possible, and the material has a huge impact on the durability of the clamps.
- The size. Barbell collars and clamps are available in different sizes. Make sure you consider the size of your barbell when you’re shopping so that you avoid purchasing a set that’s too large or too small, but that you choose an option that will fit just right.
- The cost. Last but certainly not least, you’ll also want to consider the cost of the barbell collars. Prices vary widely, and largely depend on the style, the material, the durability, and the size of the collars. Generally speaking, spring collars tend to be the least expensive, while snap lock collars tend to be the most expensive. Be sure to consider your budget before you start shopping so that you can avoid spending more than you can comfortably afford.
The Best Barbell Collars and Clamps
Since barbell collars and clamps are so important, it goes without saying that you want to make sure you select a great set that you can rely on to meet your needs and that will ensure your safety. There are literally endless barbell collars and clamps available and trying to weed through all of the different options can seem like a daunting task. To help on your quest for finding the best option, we’ve taken the liberty of doing the legwork for you.
Our editorial team spent countless hours researching different barbell collars and clamps. We compared the different styles, materials, sizes, functionality, and we read through user reviews. Based on the information that we compiled, we narrowed down the options to what we believe are the best barbell collars and clamps currently on the market. Without further ado, here’s a look at our top picks.
Lock-Jaw OLY 2 Olympic Barbell Collar – Quick Release Barbell Clamp
- NEW DESIGN*** Genuine Lock-Jaw OLY 2 Barbell Collar
First up on our list of the best barbell collars and clamps is this option from Lock-Jaw, one of the most trusted names in the industry. Their Oly Olympic Barbell Color – Quick Release Barbell Clamp is one of the most popular options, and for good reason: they’re super reliable.
The design has been revamped to increase the strength and the holding power of these clamps, and they can now hold 50 percent more than the classic version. Both the lever and uni-body design allows for easy installation and removal, and elastomer pads and a resin frame protects the bar and weight plates from damage.
They are constructed of durable materials, are suitable for use with 2 inch/50 mm Olympic bars, and are available in three color options: black, blue, and red.
- New and improved design
- Can hold 50 percent more weight than the classic version
- Stronger than the original version
- Bigger lever and uni-body design allows for easy operation
- Elastomer pads and resin frame safeguards the bar and plates
- Available in three colors
- Affordably priced
- One user said that they slipped and didn’t remain clamped
SYQQ Premium Stainless Steel Olympic Barbell Collars
- This Collar fits a 2 inch Olympic size barbell. It may take few uses before smoothly sliding on a ribbed barbell.
Whether you’re training for a competition or you just want to push yourself to the limit, if you’re planning on lifting heavy weights, then the SYQQ Premium Stainless Steel Olympic Barbell Collars are definitely the option that you want to consider.
They’re designed with super-heavy lifting in mind. Loaded with a customized spring that allows for quick release, they’re very easy to use. Ade of 303/304 stainless steel, they’re exceptionally durable and can handle serious wear and tear; plus, they have a mirror finish, which adds to their aesthetic appeal.
A top-quality plastic wrap around the body of the collars provides additional protection for the collars, the bars, and the weight plates. They’re designed to fit 2 inch bars, and are so easy to use that they can be put on and taken off with one hand.
- Made of 303/304 stainless steel
- Body wrapped with top-quality plastic wrap
- Easy operation; can be put on and taken off with one hand
- Features a customized spring for a quick release function
- The price is pretty high
Dualshine 2 Pieces Dumbbell Spring Collars Weightlifting Collars Clips Barbell Spring Clip
- Supports most Olympic barbells: the diameter of each spring ring’s hole is about 2 inches, please make sure it meets your needs.
If you’re purchasing your first pair of barbell collars and/or you’re planning on using them for light lifting, and you don’t want to spend a lot, then this option from Dualshine is a great choice.
The spring clip design makes them very easy to use, and they’re able to support most Olympic barbells (and their olympic standardized weight plates) as the diameter of each ring measures about 2 inches. Made of high-grade rust-proof steel, these clamps grip firmly onto barbells. Though they are very basic, they’re very easy to use, and are super reliable; plus, the price is very budget-friendly.
- Constructed of top-grade rust-proof metal
- Easy to operate spring lock design
- Can fit most 2 inch barbells
- Reliable constructed
- Very affordably priced
- They aren’t suitable for use with heavy weights and intense lifting
- Some users did say that they weren’t as reliable as they hoped they would be
JMC Hunt Olympic Barbell Clamps
- Olympic barbell clamps for bumper plates, olympic weight plates and olympic weight sets
Wrapping up our list of the best barbell collars and clamps is this option from JMC Hunt. Their Olympic Barbell Clams measure 2 inches and are designed for use with bumper plates and Olympic weight plates. The barbell collars hold plats 6 times stronger than spring weight clips, and they can secure 45 pound weight plates or barbells. Constructed of durable materials, and very easy to put on and take off, you can have confidence knowing that you’ll have the security you need when you’re lifting weights. They come in a variety of colors, too! And they’re affordably priced.
- Barbell clamps that can be used with bumper plates and Olympic weight plates
- Collars and locks hold Olympic plates 6 times stronger than spring weight dips
- Ideal for use with Olympic plate sets or weight bars and weight sets
- Available in a rainbow of colors
- Affordably priced
- A few users said that the collars slipped on their bars
Skinny Yoked Summary
To ensure your safety and security – and to get more out of your weight lifting workouts – a set of barbell collars or clamps is an absolute must. With the information presented in this guide, you should be able to find the right barbell clamps to meet your unique needs.
Honestly, after nearly two decades of lifting weights (mostly natural bodybuilding style routines which require a lot of plate swapping) I have to say I wouldn’t waste my time with spin lock collars. Sure, they are stupid simple, since they work just like common nut/bolt, but they just take so long to unscrew and re-screw.
Spring collars are fine, they are the most common and generally get the job done. One tip to keep in mind if shopping for a spring collar is go with a thicker gauge steel and harder spring rate. Sure, the thin easy-to-squeeze ones might seem like a better option but those thinner springs lose their tension fast and slipping spring collars are dangerous if you’re pushing solid weight on the bench or in the power rack.
Snap collars are the best hands down. Similar rules apply to the locking types as the spring types, that is don’t go with the cheap plastic options look for a solid composite or poly option that will hold up over time. Snap collars are the fastest option and also some of the most portable so you can invest in a quality pair to take with you to your busy gym, just don’t forget them when you leave!
Last update on 2021-12-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API