Barbell Apparel Review: Athletic Fits for Athletic Guys

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by  Kiev Broadwater | Last Updated: 

If you’ve been hitting the gym, finding clothes actually highlight your physique without cutting off your circulation can be nearly impossible. Barbell Apparel offers clothing made for individuals sporting a more muscular build, but do they actually look good?

This review of Barbell Apparel will give you the lowdown on this brand so you no longer have to choose between wearing clothes that look good and being able to comfortably breathe.

You can fit in your clothes again
The Adult Man Image/Icon Image source: Barbell Apparel

Barbell Apparel

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Bottom line: Barbell Apparel is a brand geared towards people with an athletic build, and their fits and fabrics stick close to your frame without having that “spray-on” look. Their hoodies aren’t perfect, but their tees look great and their pants are impressively versatile.

Ratings:

The Adult Man Image/Icon  Design The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Quality of Materials The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Value for Money The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Craftsmanship The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Customer Service The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon

Pros:

  • Accentuates muscular builds without being skin-tight
  • Performance fabrics move with you so you’re not fighting against your clothes
  • Thoughtful details in the design make a big difference in how they perform in the gym
  • A wide selection of looks for both in and out of the gym

Cons:

  • The construction of the hoodie threw me off, as it leads to fabric and thick seams bunching on the midsection

I used to have the kind of build that looked good in nearly everything—tall and skinny.

Once I got older and started hitting the weights, however, I found that nice-fitting clothes were getting harder to come by. 

Whether it was the casual shirts that made me feel like my forearms were going to explode or the pants I could barely move in, I was fighting against clothes, and a wardrobe that was both comfortable and looked good was getting tougher to put together.

Luckily, some new brands have been popping up that accommodate more muscular body types, with one of them being Barbell Apparel.

How do they stack up? Read my full review below for the lowdown on this athleisure brand.

What Is Barbell Apparel?

man in green barbell shirt from behind

Founded under the mantra “clothing should be better,” Vegas-based Barbell Apparel has made it their mission to make clothes tailored to muscular body types. 

Their story started with Kickstarter campaigns and an appearance on Shark Tank, and the brand has been consistently expanding its selection and carving its way into the athletically-tailored casual wear niche since.  

Barbell Apparel continues to be active in the fitness industry outside of clothing, offering daily workouts you can follow along with on Instagram Live.

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Tapered fits allow room for your hard-earned lats and quads while still providing a tailored, aesthetically-pleasing look. And their performance fabrics move with you whether you’re running errands or working on your snatch-grip high pulls.

Although BA is designed with the buff guy in mind, athletic body types of all shapes and sizes will find their fits accommodating—I’m certainly no Lou Ferrigno.

One of the standout aspects of Barbell Apparel is that their casual pieces actually look like clothes—not compression pants with belt loops. And for more muscular guys, that can be a rare thing to come by.

Barbell Apparel

Barbell Apparel is marketed towards muscular dudes, sure, but the pieces they make are for anyone with an athletic build who’s tired of compromising when it comes to fit, comfort, and a stylish look.

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Things to Consider Before Buying Clothing from Barbell Apparel

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Looking through the styles offered by Barbell Apparel, it’s clear that they’re designed for those with a muscular build. And while I’m no stranger to the gym, I was a bit concerned that I might have too lean of a build to fill them out.

What I found was that their clothes fit a wide range of athletic proportions. Even if you’re relatively trim, their clothes will look good on you.

I’ll go into more detail below, but if you’re athletic and have an active lifestyle, there’s a good chance that Barbell Apparel clothing will fit you in the right spots.

Barbell Apparel Review

Recon Joggers

Man in black Barbell pants

If you’ve had one pair of performance joggers, you’ve had them all,right?

Not quite. 

The Barbell Apparel Recon Joggers fit the bill of what you’re probably expecting from performance joggers: a mid-rise, stretchy fabric, and a fit that gives you some room in the thighs but tapers in the calf. These joggers check all of those boxes, as well as a few more.

Barbell Apparel’s thoughtful details are what really make these joggers stand out from other joggers in the same category.

man putting cell phone into Barbell pants

The first detail I love on the Recon Joggers is the zip pockets. They’re more secure, you can leave a gap for headphones to stick out if you haven’t gone full Bluetooth—they’re great. However, another detail lies within the pockets of these joggers: a simple elastic pocket.

“An elastic pocket?” you may be wondering, “what’s special about that?” 

Let me explain.

One of the most frustrating things about working out on the go is finding a place for your phone, your keys, and even your wallet where they won’t flop around and be a nuisance. Inside each hip pocket of these joggers lies a phone or wallet-sized elastic pocket. This keeps your stuff secure inside an already-secure zipper pocket. 

The difference it makes when simply walking around has made me a convert. As far as I’m concerned, these pockets should now be required on all pants by law.

If you’re looking to step up the day-to-day functionality of your activewear, these joggers from Barbell Apparel are tough to beat.

Recon Joggers from Barbell Apparel

The Barbell Apparel Recon Joggers fit the bill of what you’re probably expecting from performance joggers: a mid-rise, stretchy fabric, and a fit that gives you some room in the thighs but tapers in the calf. These joggers check all of those boxes, as well as a few more.

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Slim Anything Pant

man wearing grey Barbell pants

The Slim Anything Pant from Barbell Apparel answers the question “Can performance fabric look casual?”

The answer? Yes. Yes, it can.

Now, I’ll say upfront that these pants don’t look like a pair of cotton chinos, and they do have a slight sheen to them. If you’re looking for chinos with performance fabric that look and lay like cotton pants, I wish you luck. You’ve got a tough road ahead of you.

The aptly-named Anything Pants are proving to be a versatile staple in my wardrobe, and I keep finding new reasons to go back to them. Walking the dog? Check. Commuting? Done. Catching a flight? Absolutely. 

Man in Barbell chinos detail

The stretchy, wrinkle-resistant fabric and refined look of these pants make them great not only for everyday goings-on but also incredible for travel. While I certainly wouldn’t show up to a formal occasion in these, I don’t know that I’ll ever arrive at my gate wearing anything else.

These pants also feature the same great interior phone/wallet pocket that made me fall in love with the Recon Joggers. The left hip pocket has a zip pocket on the interior, but it’s tough to access if you have larger hands, making it a nice thought that falls short in practice. The zipper pocket on the right back pocket, however, is a nice touch for extra security.

Searching for pants that can get you through whatever the day throws at you? Short of circumstances requiring a more formal or structured look, the Anything Pant is an extremely adaptable option that will get the job done more often than not.

Anything Pants from Barbell Apparel

The aptly-named Anything Pants are proving to be a versatile staple in my wardrobe, and I keep finding new reasons to go back to them. Walking the dog? Check. Commuting? Done. Catching a flight? Absolutely.

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Stealth Hoodie

Man in barbell hoodie and pants in sunlight

With its performance Flextek™ fabric and tapered fit, the Barbell Apparel Stealth Hoodie is easily the most flattering hoodie I own. The cut makes your arms and chest pop while leaving a bit of extra stomach room (for those of us that need it).

A wrinkle-resistant build and moisture-wicking fabric mean that you can wear this hoodie day after day, staying comfortable, dry, and looking crisp all the while. The scuba hood is a nice added detail, contouring the face and keeping the wind off your ears during long runs.

Man in barbell hoodie and pants

While I love the look and the fit of this hoodie, it isn’t perfect.

Hoodies made of thinner, performance-based fabrics generally have pockets sewn on the outside of the front panel so that the bunches and seams aren’t laying against your stomach. In this hoodie, the pockets are sewn on the inside.

This construction paired with the zipper openings of each side pocket leads to thick seams and an extra fabric panel that sits against your stomach. Is this the end of the world? Certainly not. Is it comfortable? When compared to other hoodies, not really.

If you’re looking for comfortable athleisure, Barbell has better options. However, if you’re looking for a high-performance hoodie that looks great and accentuates your build, the Stealth Hoodie is a solid choice.

Stealth Hoodie from Barbell Apparel

With its performance Flextek™ fabric and tapered fit, the Barbell Apparel Stealth Hoodie is easily the most flattering hoodie I own. The cut makes your arms and chest pop while leaving a bit of extra stomach room (for those of us that need it).

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Straight Athletic Fit Jeans

man wearing Barbell jeans

The Barbell Apparel Straight Athletic Fit Jeans completely stole the show for me. As a guy who has a hard time with jeans in one area or another, these were a breath of fresh air.

These jeans are stretchy, but they don’t have that weird jeggings look that a lot of other stretch denim has—they actually look like jeans. And nice jeans, at that.  

These jeans are made out of Barbell’s “omni-stretch denim” which utilizes 4% polyester and 1% spandex to give them just the right amount of stretch while preserving the look of a classic, stylish pair of jeans.

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Barbell Apparel’s Straight Athletic Fit Jeans have a mid-rise (no cracks here), and a slim fit that hugs the thighs and calves. They look great cuffed or left as they are—but I like the cropped look, so I tend to cuff everything anyway.

Dress these jeans up with loafers or dress them down with sneakers. They look great either way.

If you have trouble finding jeans that fit well due to muscular legs, calves, or glutes (or all three), a pair of these can alleviate a lot of the problems you’ll run into with conventional fits and fabrics. 

Barbell Apparel Jeans

These jeans are stretchy, but they don’t have that weird jeggings look that a lot of other stretch denim has---they actually look like jeans. And nice jeans, at that. 

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Full Circle Tee

Man indoors in green Barbell shirt

It’s 2021, and t-shirts aren’t just t-shirts anymore. We have higher expectations.

The Barbell Apparel Full Circle Tee lives up to those expectations and then some.

First and foremost, the fit is great—extra room in the chest and tapered down to the waist with sleeves that are just right in terms of both length and room. 

Along with the fit, this shirt has something else going for it: it’s soft.

man in grey Barbell pants sitting

Are soft t-shirts a revolutionary concept? No. However, finding a soft tee that fits well and doesn’t feel like it’s going to rip or get destroyed by the washing machine isn’t an easy task. 

Also, while I’m normally in pretty staunch opposition to ostentatious branding and large graphics on tees, the design of the graphic and small size of the front logo are pretty inoffensive, and the neutral olive green I chose is great for slipping in and out of your other looks.

If you’re tired of sticking to gym tees because they’re the only ones that fit, the tees from Barbell Apparel give you a more versatile option.

Full Circle Tee from Barbell Apparel

Extra room in the chest, tapered down toward the waist, and snug around the arms: everything I like about a t-shirt.

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What do Other Reviewers Say About Barbell Apparel?

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The Barbell Apparel website is bursting with positive reviews of their clothing, with reviewers breathing sighs of relief that their muscular thighs and arms can actually fit into clothing that looks good. 

It is worth noting, however, that some shorter guys have found the bottoms too long, as the jeans and pants have a standard 34” inseam. Cuffing is an option (I do it on almost all my pants anyway), but it’s something to think about if you generally order pants with a shorter inseam. 

My Thoughts Overall On Barbell Apparel

What I Like

  • You get clothes that accentuate your body type without restricting your movement. The cuts work well for anyone with an athletic body type, from trim to bulky.

  • The performance fabrics used by the brand, while they don’t look like traditional fabrics, are still casual enough to look like actual clothing and not like activewear.

  • Their clothes are full of thoughtful little details that can make a big difference as you go about your day.

  • Their jeans, performance fabric or not, are just great jeans. They might not be replacing my prized Japanese raw selvedge, but they’re easily one of my new staple pieces.

What I Don’t Like

  • The hoodie has a construction that makes it lay slightly uncomfortably on the stomach.

Who is Barbell Apparel for?

Barbell Apparel is marketed towards muscular dudes, sure, but the pieces they make are for anyone with an athletic build who’s tired of compromising when it comes to fit, comfort, and a stylish look. Their clothes show off your physique without being skin-tight, and their approach to functionality is surprisingly thoughtful for a brand named after a piece of knurled steel.

The Verdict

Barbell Apparel is a brand that’s looking to tackle a common issue in a very thoughtful and intentional way. 

Buff guys should be able to look good too, and I think they mostly hit the nail on the head in making that happen.

Their cuts and fabrics allow you to actually move and be comfortable while also looking good—something that many other brands have taken a stab at and fallen tragically short.

Their shirts accentuate the areas you want to accentuate and give you a bit of space in the areas you don’t, and the pants provide a slim fit without squeezing the life out of you. Their jeans were the star of the show for me, but every piece I reviewed now has a place in my wardrobe.

Although the brand is targeted towards more muscular individuals, those with a slimmer athletic body type will also find the clothes flattering. From lounging to lifting to casual hangouts and catching flights, Barbell Apparel has some great-looking, versatile options that can keep you comfortable through whatever your day-to-day looks like.

Barbell Apparel

Barbell Apparel is marketed towards muscular dudes, sure, but the pieces they make are for anyone with an athletic build who’s tired of compromising when it comes to fit, comfort, and a stylish look.

Shop Barbell Apparel
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

FAQs

How does Barbell Apparel’s sizing work?

Sizing will always differ from brand to brand, and Barbell Apparel is no exception. Their pants seem to run a size larger, i.e. if you wear a 34”, you should order a 32”. Take a look at their full size guide here.

Does Barbell Apparel sell dress shirts?

They do. I haven’t tried them, but reviewers describe their dress shirts as having just the right amount of stretch without looking like polyester.

Are there any Barbell Apparel physical store locations?

There are currently four Barbell Apparel retail stores, all located in the Western U.S. However, if you’re scared of shopping without trying their clothes on, reviewers report exchanges and returns to be a pretty painless process.

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Barbell Apparel Jeans
Great jeans with more room in the thighs and some stretch
Barbell Apparel Jeans
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Anything Pants from Barbell Apparel
Dressier pants for the muscle-bound man
Anything Pants from Barbell Apparel
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Full Circle Tee from Barbell Apparel
A classic tee with room in the chest and tailored torso and arms
Full Circle Tee from Barbell Apparel
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Recon Joggers from Barbell Apparel
A nice pair of joggers you can use for the gym or just chilling
Recon Joggers from Barbell Apparel
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Stealth Hoodie from Barbell Apparel
A lightweight hoodie you can wear every day
Stealth Hoodie from Barbell Apparel
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If you click these links and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.