Barbells and bumper plates are expensive pieces of fitness equipment that are often mistreated, so I wanted to give a few tips and reminders regarding barbell use and etiquette in the gym. A few items can go a long way for helping to keep our equipment in working condition and keep you and your fellow athletes safe as well.

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Below is a simple list to remind you how to properly load the barbell:


Use large plates when loading the bar, if possible, because they are better able to absorb the force when dropping the bar. Always use collars to lock plates on.


Always place large plates on the inside of the bar because the inside plates absorb most of the force when hitting the ground.


It is bad etiquette to use lots of small plates in place of large plates. As you add weight during sets you should remove duplicate smaller plates for single larger plates.


Use small plates sparingly because bumper plates increase the surface area which helps absorb force when a loaded bar is dropped.


Never use technique plates with bumper plates. Only use technique plates when working on technique. These plates are not designed to absorb force or be dropped.


Never drop an empty bar or a bar with only a single 10lb plate on each side. It will damage the bearing/bushings in the collars and eventually they will no longer spin.

Here are a few other tips:

  • If you tear your hands during a workout make sure you clean and sanitize the barbell when you finish. You wouldn’t want to pick up a barbell with someone else’s blood or skin on it.
  • Put the collars (“clips”) on the bar for all your lifts. Plates sliding off the end of a barbell mid-squat and a barbell wiping off of your shoulders are extremely dangerous to you and others around you. Plus, we don’t want you to end up being a part of some fitness fail compilation on YouTube.
  • Do not ghost-ride the bar. Ghost-Riding refers to completing a rep and then letting the bar fall from overhead, either in front or behind you without any guidance or attempt to control it. Always control the bar on the way down by following it with open hands and settling it on the first bounce.

Keep in mind that these reminders are for the good of the gym and our members. Always feel free to ask us with any question you may have. We are always happy to help.

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About the author:

Chris Elmore is the founder and editor or Metcon and WODTALK Magazine. He is an endurance athlete with over 20 years of competitive swimming experience and 8 years of running and triathlon training, racing and coaching experience. He has competed in endurance events of all distances including Ironman Coeur D’Alene, Ironman Lake Placid, and Ironman Arizona. Chris began training with CrossFit in 2008 when he realized that the years of long slow distance (LSD) training commonly practiced by most endurance athletes had significantly decreased his muscle mass, strength and power.


Elmore, Chris. “Barbell Etiquette.” Metcon Market,

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