# Understanding the Purpose of Rings on Barbell Handles
If you’ve ever been to a gym, you may have noticed rings or lines of smooth metal on the barbell handles. These markings are not just for decoration; they serve a specific purpose.
## Different Rings for Different Strength Sports
There are two different strength sports that each call for their own markings near the end of the bar. Olympic weightlifting uses marks that are 91 centimeters apart from each other, while powerlifting traditionally uses marks that are 81 centimeters apart. In a regular gym, you might see either set of rings or both.
## Powerlifting Rings for Bench Press
On a bar made for powerlifting, the rings are there to define the widest legal hand position for the bench press. These are the inner rings if your bar has both. According to the International Powerlifting Federation’s technical rules, the spacing of the hands for the bench press shall not exceed 81 cm measured between the forefingers. Those “81 cm marks” are the smooth lines in the knurling, and this rule is exactly why barbells used in powerlifting are manufactured with them.
## Weightlifting Rings as Landmarks
In Olympic weightlifting, there is no rule about where you may place your hands. But the knurling marks are still standardized across bars for convenience. Otherwise, there would be a lot of distance between the smooth center section and the end of the bar, making it hard to set your hands evenly and consistently.
## Using Rings as Landmarks
The rings and other features of the bar are called “landmarks” because they help you get into the habit of placing your hands in the same spot every time. If you do snatches and other Olympic lifts, the only thing you need to know about the rings is that some of your training bars might have those dual knurling marks, as described above.
Understanding the purpose of rings on barbell handles can help you improve your grip and ensure proper form during weightlifting and powerlifting exercises.