Should You Bring Your Own Collars To The Gym?

spring collar
March 8, 2023 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “should you bring your own collars to the gym”. This is an interesting topic and one that I’m sure many gym goers consider.

The majority of people who train in a commercial gym use the collars that the gym provides. In a lot of cases these spring collars can be very cheap and sub standard.

This article will delve deep into this question and by the end you will have a lot more information to inform your own judgement.

Should You Bring Your Own Collars To The Gym?

If your gym doesn’t have any collars at all then you should certainly bring your own with you. If your gym has spring collars that are cheap and largely defective, again you should bring your own.

The collars that I like best are lockjaw collars, they are very secure and ensure that the plates are firmly in place when performing big exercises. This extra stability is especially important with heavier weights.

Overall, collars are only really necessary if the plates are sliding off the bar a bit when you are exercising. If they are then you should definitely use collars. If not, then it is a personal decision.

Does Your Gym Have Collars?

This may seem like a very obvious question but believe it or not, some commercial gyms don’t have collars!

In cases like this, you should certainly consider bringing your own collars to the gym. I would recommend lockjaw collars for the extra stability. They are very easy to slide on a barbell and easy to take off.

In addition, as the gym doesn’t have any of their own collars they will not confuse your collars for their own!
spring collar

Good Idea If Gym Collars Are Bad

The majority of commercial gyms have the cheaper spring collars. What often happens in most gyms is that these collars are strewn all over the place.

People often step on them as well which causes many spring collars to get mangled and deformed. This then results in them being very difficult to get on and off bars.

In some cases, they are beyond repair and simply can’t be used anymore. In cases like this, it really is beneficial to bring your own collars to the gym. Personally, I bring a pair of lockjaw collars with me and I use them on heavier barbell exercises.

I find that the barbell is a lot more stable with my lockjaw collars on, compared to the gym spring collars. This is especially important as the weights get heavier. Even small shifts in weight from side to side can affect you.

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Is Using Collars Necessary?

Some people will be asking themselves “are collars even necessary?”. If they aren’t necessary then isn’t it pointless bringing your own collars to the gym?

This is an interesting line of thought and one that deserves further exploration. If when you are squatting, the bar is not even on your back and your weight is shifting from side to side, you should use collars.

When bench pressing, if you find that one arm is coming up faster than the other, you need collars. As a general rule, if the plates are sliding a fair bit when you are lifting, you need collars.

If the plates are not sliding on the bar, then it really is a personal decision whether to use collars. I would say that it is a good idea to collar your working sets. This is because these sets will be more challenging and there is a greater propensity for breakdown in technique.

The last thing you want during a heavy squat with no collars on the bar, is for the plates to start sliding off!

different collars

No Collars When Benching Alone?

Some people advocate not using any collars on the bar when you are benching alone. This is to ensure that if you fail a rep you will not get pinned under the bar. You can simply slide the plates off easily from one side to the other.

However, in a gym this is not the best idea! Firstly, you will be causing unnecessary damage to equipment and it is the type of thing that is prohibited under the rules.

A better solution would be to use collars on heavy benching – just ensure that you bench inside a power rack with the pins set to the appropriate height.

LockJaw Or OSO Barbell Collars?

The video below gives a good insight into both LockJaw collars and OSO collars and their use cases.

As with everything, different people will have different preferences. Personally, I prefer lockjaw collars. I like how easy they are to get on and off barbells and they are very stable.

I do understand though, if you are performing heavy deadlifts and dropping the bar between reps, OSO collars could be better. They are likely to have more longevity when you are doing exercises that involve the bar dropping to the floor frequently.

Olympic lifting involves the bar dropping to the floor frequently as well. So OSO collars can be more effective for that use case. They don’t budge and they would withstand that type of abuse better over the long term. 

Final Thoughts

I hope you have enjoyed reading my article and that is has been insightful for you! Should you bring your own collars to the gym? I would advise doing so if the gym collars are very bad or defective.

If you want the extra security that slightly more expensive collars offers you, then it is worth doing. If the plates are not sliding on the bar in the gym then it is up to you whether you use collars or not.

It should be stated that commercial gyms in general tend to have cheaper bars and plates for cost savings. Therefore, collars are more important in these environments.

If you go to a hardcore bodybuilding or powerlifting gym, the equipment is generally a lot better and up to a higher standard. Therefore, there is less necessity to use collars in gyms like this.

If you have any comments to share on the topic please leave your thoughts below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

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