The last time I was there, I only saw one piece of these quick release barbell collars. It took a while for me to ask the staff about these type of collars because the staff was busy with a customer who had a serious treadmill accident.
Barbell collars always come in pairs. At least that's the idea because barbell bars have TWO ends.
So I was wondering why there was only one piece left in their inventory. I asked the staff at Chris Sports to restock and I finally got a pair last week.
What are Barbell Collars
Simply put, barbell collars are locking devices that are put on the barbell bar once the barbell weight plates are loaded. The collars keep the weight plates steady and prevent them from sliding off the barbell.
By keeping the weight plates steady, this aids the lifter's ability to balance the barbell when lifting. Injuries to the lifter are also avoided because loose weights can shift and then pull the lifter off balance.
Muscle strain may occur when the lifter is forced to keep the barbell level. A wrist sprain could easily result when one arm takes a significant share of the barbell's load.
Barbell bar sleeves (part of the bar where you load the plates) come in two diameter sizes. The standard size is roughly 1" thick and the olympic size which is 2" thick.
Barbell collars come in these two sizes as well. Most lifters who train at home use the standard size collars.
Common Types of Barbell Collars
As I'm lifting mainly at home, I'll be discussing the popular barbell collars for the standard barbell.
- Spin Lock Collars
These are the same type of collars that are used for adjustable dumbbells. Adjustable dumbbells have the trademark threaded sleeves.
Although not as common as the barbell bars with smooth sleeves, nowadays, there are barbell bars that have threaded sleeves much like the adjustable dumbbells. The spin lock collars are spinned clockwise until they securely press the weight plates in the bar.
These collars have to be turned counterclockwise to take them off the bar.
A disadvantage of these collars is the amount of time to put them on on the barbell bar. You need to turn the collars all the way from the barbell end to the plates.
They also have the tendency to get stuck especially when the heavy barbell plates turn and press against the collar itself.
- Bolt Lock Collars
Bolt Lock collars are essentially made of two parts, the metal collar and a metal locking bolt which you turn so that the bolt presses against the bar sleeve. This effectively clamps the collar to the barbell bar.
The newer bolt lock collars have a knurled screw-on cap on the plate side of the collar. By turning this cap clockwise, the collar tightens towards the plates, thus keeping the barbell plates from moving.
To remove the collar, turn the cap counterclockwise to loosen it and then unbolt the collar from the bar. You can then slide out the collar from the barbell sleeve.
These collars are made of two (sometimes three) metal moving parts that can get stuck. So they need to be kept clean and even occasionally lubricated to ensure smooth turning of parts.
There is also the danger that parts may disengage from the collar body and get lost. This makes the barbell collar practically unusable.
- Spring Clips
Just like the bolt lock collars, these are also popular barbell collars. The spring clips or spring locks are made of coiled metal that are loosened by gripping on to the plastic or rubberized handles.
These spring clips are sometimes jokingly referred to as mini hand-grippers. The motion of operating them resembles that of the gripping exercise device for strengthening the grip and forearms.
To loosen the the coil, you grip on the handles and then slide it on the bar until the spring clip presses against the weight plates. They too, have the tendency to bind against the bar sleeve especially if the the spring coil diameter isn't big enough or there is rusting on the bar.
- Quick Release Lock Collars
The Quick Release Lock collars are usually made of hard plastic with a reinforcement metal at the pivot of the lever.
The lever has a cam at the base so that when the lever is closed, the cam jams the collar on the bar.
Shown below is one of the two Quick Release Lock barbell collars I got.
The main advantage of this collar is the ease in removing it from the barbell sleeve. They're especially useful when lifting with on drop sets where weight plates are unloaded in between reps without resting.
Also, since it is made of hard plastic, it doesn't rust and isn't as heavy as the other barbell collars.