In the market for a new Olympic bar for your home set-up or new to barbell training? The Bulldog Gear Cerakote 20kg 7ft Olympic Barbell is well worth a look.

If you’re looking for a barbell for your home or garage gym, then you’re probably looking for something that feels comfortable to use, with maximum versatility – and maybe looks the business too. If you’re looking for one for a commercial gym, then lasting power is likely at the top of your list. You might even want something to go with your gym’s colour branding. The Bulldog Gear Men’s Cerakote 20kg 7ft Olympic Barbell might just have everything you need.

Men’s Fitness verdict

It might not be the one bar to rule them all, but the Bulldog Gear Cerakote Olympic Barbell is a robust and versatile tool for first-time lifters or those setting up their own home gyms.
  • Knurled grip is comfortable and not too aggressive
  • Versatile bar for a wide range of workouts
  • Five colour options
  • Tensile strength isn’t class-leading
  • Grip may feel a little thin for some
  • There are cheaper options that perform just as well

How we test the best barbells

Our testers have years of experience putting strength training gear through its paces. For barbells they examine the design of the bar, the build-quality and versatility, and above all what it actually feels like to train with. They take into account the tensile strength and grip of the bar and how well plates fit. If possible, they’ll use a range of weight plates too. For this review experienced lifter Gareth Sapstead paired the Bulldog Gear bar with the Bulldog Gear Hybrid 2.0 Black Rubber Bumper Plates.

Bulldog Gear Mens Cerakote Olympic Barbell design

The Bulldog Gear Cerakote 20kg 7ft Olympic Barbell (buy now) looks good, for sure. It might be one of the best looking bars on the market. Especially the red colour I tested, which screams “look at me”. If you’re someone who films your own training to post on social media then this bar is sure to get you some extra attention. It also comes in olive green, black, blue and teal. You can’t say that Bulldog Gear haven’t thought about aesthetics with this one.

While you have five bar colors to choose from, you don’t have a choice in the color of the barbell sleeves. All of them are black – though I don’t think that’s a downside. Firstly, it’s a nice colour switch from the colorful bar (unless you choose the black bar). Secondly, having a black sleeve gives the bar a little more aesthetic staying power, as you’ll constantly be sliding plates on and off that thing.

Bulldog Gear says the shaft’s ceramic coating helps give a long-lasting vibrant colour, while the sleeves are plated with a black hardened chrome finish for increased abrasion resistance. If you’re a training nerd like me then you might just be salivating right now, too.

Bulldog Gear is big on the small details, with subtle branding in a couple of places on the bar. I like that the specs of the barbell are added to each end too. You won’t be forgetting that this is a 28mm, 20kg Olympic barbell made by Bulldog Gear anytime soon. However, good looks don’t always equal decent strength and performance.

Bulldog Gear Cerakote Olympic Barbell build quality

That said, it didn’t take much time into my testing to tell this is a high-quality barbell. The rotation of the barbell is smooth, but not so smooth that your weights will be spinning fast and putting you off. This is in large part due to each weight sleeve having five needle roller bearings. I aslo examined the knurl on the shaft of the barbell – the area you’ll be gripping and ripping. If you like a really aggressive knurl that’ll give you calluses to show off, or that needs a lot of chalk to work with, then this probably isn’t the barbell for you. But I like the slightly dialled-down level of grip the Bulldog Gear barbell gives. It doesn’t rip my hands apart, but it also doesn’t mean that even in the sweatiest of workouts my grip is going to falter.

Man using a barbell

The Bulldog Gear welding team have certainly been earning their corn, using friction welding to “guarantee the maximum strength possible”. It definitely helps give the bar a reassuringly solid feel. Then there are the “micro hardness tests” that Bulldog Gear conducts on its bars to ensure the highest quality manufacturing standards.

Then there’s the number most of you will be interested in – tensile strength. The Bulldog Gear Cerakote 20kg 7ft Olympic Barbell (buy now) has a tensile strength of 190,000 psi. In layman’s terms that means the bar is on a par with the likes of the Primal Strength Pro series barbell, although not quite the tensile strength of something like the MiraFit M3 barbell of the same size and weight. Unless you aim to be hitting some deadlifting world records, though, this isn’t going to be an issue and there’s plenty of tensile strength here to play with.

Bulldog Gear Cerakote Olympic Barbell performance

I’ve used this bar for five different styles of workouts now to give it a thorough test. That way its use wasn’t just limited to my own training biases, but some of the best barbell exercises. For aesthetics and bodybuilding-style workouts, the Bulldog Gear Cerakote is pretty good, although I’ve used better. Then again, it’s often well worn-in Olympic barbells that feel best during these styles of workouts. You want the knurl to be a little worn so those longer time-under-tension sets are comfortable. And for some reason well-worn roller bearings tend to feel better.

Even though the grip thickness is what you’d regard as a ‘normal’ size, it does feel a little thinner than I’d like. That’s my own personal preference, but it’s worth a thought if you don’t like bars that feel smaller to grip (even though design-wise they often actually aren’t). I got in some good hypertrophy-focused workouts with the Bulldog Gera bar too. Overall the workout felt good, and my joints didn’t feel beaten up afterward, which they can sometimes do with other barbells.

Bulldog Gear Cerakote Olympic Barbell for strength training

For strength-focused workouts I’ve taken this bar through the key powerlifting exercises: bench press, back squat and deadlift from the floor. My lifting performances were good, and in the case of the bench press a little better than I’ve been doing recently (for reference, in my daily gym I’m using a 20kg bar made by Jordan). For deadlifts the bar felt good pulling from the floor. The grip felt strong and there wasn’t too much noise coming from the bar when it was dropped to the floor at the end of a heavy set. For the back squat the bar sits nicely on the upper traps and doesn’t dig in too much, and with heavy loads I felt the bar had just a little sway in it to help me fire out of the hole at the bottom. Overall a solid performance for a strength-focused barbell.

One day I was short on time so I decided to put the bar (and my body) through its paces with some metabolic resistance training. That’s basically quality barbell circuits focusing on tension and good form, using certain exercises that work well when done back to back. For these you need a good barbell that won’t rip up your hands and can be used across different styles of exercises, from Olympic-style lifts (hang cleans, hang high pulls and so on) to squats, lunges and military presses. Combined with the Bulldog Gear Hybrid 2.0 Black Rubber Bumper Plates I think this is where this barbell really shines.

Should you buy the Bulldog Gear Mens Cerakote 20kg 7ft Olympic Barbell?

I’d say that overall the Bulldog Gear Olympic barbell is a jack of all trades. It does most things pretty well, but isn’t exceptional at one specific use. So for something like a barbell circuit or even CrossFit styles of workouts this bar excels due to its versatility. For commercial gyms I can see a lot of lifters fighting over this bar for how it looks.

But the more serious gym users and super strong lifters will likely opt for the bars they’re already used to and have some wear in them. But it would be well worth making the switch to the Bulldog Gear as it’s a good all-rounder and better than a lot of other bars. If you have a garage or home gym then I highly recommend this bar if it’s the only one you’re going to buy. It’s good for most workouts, is robust and comfortable for the most part – and it looks great.

Bulldog Gear Cerakote Olympic Barbell technical specs

Dimensions (length x diameter)220 x 2.8cm / 86.6 x 1.1in
Weight 20kg / 44lb
Sleeve length41.5cm / 16.3in
Features190,000psi tensile strength; dual knurl marks (no central knurl); black hardened chrome sleeves; durable Ceratoke finish; self lubricating bushings
Colors Red, Olive green, Blue, Black, Teal

Photography: Peter Black

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