How “Thick Bar Training” Will Greatly Improve Upper Body Strength

June 2, 2010

I have to admit, I have only been exposed to thick bar training on a few occasions. I simply have never trained in a gym that had many thick barbells or dumbbells. My guess is that 99.9% of the people reading this article don’t have access to thick bars either. I do have a solution for this, but first lets talk about how thick bars can significantly improve upper body development.

thick bar training


[If you can develop a vise-like grip, weights that once felt heavy will now feel lighter in your hands. This strength will transfer over to your entire upper body. I’ll discuss why this is the case in a second.]

How Does a Strong Grip Help With Pressing Movements?

I think most people understand the idea of grip strength helping pulling movements like chin ups and rows. It makes sense because if your grip is too weak you won’t be able to hold the weights. This is just part of the overall picture. The think you rarely hear about is a principle called “irradiation”. I talk about this principle in full detail in this post: The Strength Training Rep Dissected and Explained.

A Quick Outline of “Irradiation”

Did you know that you can contract a muscle much harder if you also contract the muscles surrounding it? I learned about this principle called “Irradiation” from Soviet Special Forces Trainer, Pavel Tsatsouline. Here is how he explains it.

  1. Try flexing your bicep as hard as possible without making a fist.
  2. Now try and flex your bicep as hard as possible while making as tight as fist as possible and squeezing.
  3. You should be able to contract your bicep much harder when making a tight fist.
  4. This is called “irradiation”…what is happening is that the nerve impulses of surrounding muscles can amplify the effect of that muscle.

Surrounding Muscles “Borrow” Strength from Your Forearms

Make a fist as hard as possible and try not to also flex your biceps or triceps. This is pretty hard to do. As you flex and generate tension in your forearms, you will also generate tension in your biceps and triceps without even trying. Gaining strength is simply the skill of generating more tension “on demand” to the muscles being worked. If you flex your forearms hard enough you will begin to feel tension not just in your arms, but in your shoulders, chest, and back.

Gripping the Bar Hard Helps, But There Are Issues…

Gripping a bar hard while doing something like bench presses or curls and you will begin to feel the effects of irradiation. The problem is that it is hard to grip a thin bar hard, especially if you have large hands. I have freakishly large hands, even for a tall guy. The problem with having large hands is that it makes gripping a regular width bar really easy. My fingers can easily wrap around the bar and It doesn’t even feel like my forearms have to work at all when doing a lift. I had a workout partner who was 5’6″ and his forearms would burn badly when doing curls or rows. As a result, he had some very impressive forearms and mine were just average.

thick bar hand strength
[This is the width of a typical thick bar. The red one pictured here is sold over at FunctionalHandStrength.com]

Using Thick Bars Force Your Forearms to Generate Tension

If you have access to thick bars, you are one of the lucky few. The great thing about thick bar training is that you have no choice but to grip the bar hard for a lot of lifts. If you use a weak grip doing curls for instance, the bar will slip out of your hands. When you do pressing movements, you will be able to generate a better squeeze and more tension onto the bar compared to a thin bar. This will allow you to use the irradiation principle to the max! You will be able to lift more in the military press, bench press, etc.

How Getting Stronger at Rows Will Increase Your Bench Press

You will get stronger in the pulling movements like curls, rows, chin ups, etc. The pulling movements will be harder at first, because it will demand serious grip strength to hold onto a thicker bar…but the stronger your forearms get from these pulling movements, the more you can use that strength to help your pressing movements. The stronger grip will translate to better irradiation in the pressing movements when you do squeeze the bar hard.

For Those Who Don’t Have Access to Thick Bars

I found a nifty solution for those who don’t have access to fat bars. A guy named Matt commented on one of the posts on this site where I was discussing grip strength. I was reading his comment and liked what I read. His name was hyperlinked so I knew he must have a website as well. I clicked on his name, which lead me to his site: FatGripz.com. He invented a really cool solution to turn any bar or handle into a thick bar. Here is a picture…

thick bar workout

[I had one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments when I saw this product.]

These Can Be Used on Almost Any Bar or Handle

They work well on chin up bars, home or gym barbells, home or gym dumbbells, etc. At first I thought that they would only fit Olympic bars, but they work on almost any width bar. For those of you who want to increase upper body strength and definition this is a great tool. One thing I forgot to mention is lifting straps…don’t use them! Lifting straps seem like a good idea on paper in that you can use more weight for pulling movements, but they weaken your ability to generate tension in your forearms and get the full benefit of irradiation.

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Eat Steak Lose Weight June 2, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Glad to see these ideas on your site. I’ve gone through a lot of Pavel’s books and videos. In the Naked Warrior video, when I first heard him talk about grip, muscle clenching, and his particular breathing strategies, I thought they were BS.

However, The Naked Warrior book explained that all these were a true key to doing the exercises and told exactly how to do the techniques. I tried the fist exercise, and saw that was for real. Then I tried the breathing and stomach muscle clench (all of which he labels high tenstion techniques). Before I had only been able to do about 3 pullups with great effort. with the high tension techniques, I did 5 easily. It was alomost like I was floating up to the bar. You can see why I instantaneously became a believer.

Raymond June 2, 2010 at 7:45 pm

CLICK! That’s the light bulb turning on in my head. I never thought about it before but I realise now when I do chins/pull ups on the different hanging bars at my gym, why some seemed easier.
I realise they are different diameters!
My grip strength sucks. My limiting factor on dead-lift exercises have always been my grip. I tried farmers walk to improve but didn’t help much. ( I don’t want to use wrist bands).
Doing military presses (major in Visual Impact) it hurts because the small contact area of the Olympic bar is acting on my palm. But this fat grip should help heaps… thanks

Mike June 2, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Great article Rusty, ever since I read your original article on irradiation I’ve been making a conscious effort to grip the barbells tighter. Quick question: I just started your new 3 phase program. I’m 5’8 165 and decided to start with phase two so I can trim down to 155 as quick as possible. I plan on going from phase 2, to phase 3, and then starting all over at phase 1. My issue is that being a hockey goaltender for 15 years has led me to have a much stronger lower body than upper body and as a result I’m shaped like a cyclist (larger thighs and butt, normal sized upper body). It’s not overly pronounced but enough to annoy me. What’s the best way to trim down the muscle and overlying fat on the butt and thighs? Thanks!

Darrin June 2, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Yeah, big ups for introducing me to Pavel’s idea of irradiation, Rusty. It has really helped solidify in my mind the importance of doing big, compound lifts as it saves a ton of time and gives great results.

Grip strength is wicked important and it’s too bad most people forget about that in their bench press, bicep curl, and crunch-heavy routines. You can be the strongest person in the world but if you can’t hold on to it then what’s the point?

I have smallish hands so have found the regular barbells too big, if anything. (Tough sometimes to get a good hook grip.) So I’ve found that deadlifts, pull ups, and kettlebells are just what the doctor ordered to help me strengthen my grip.

Yavor June 3, 2010 at 1:09 am

It’s finally happening – lots and lots of manufacturers are creating “gadgets” that are actually useful – in contrast to the “infomerical junk” that we used to see so often.

Those thick bar handles are a great idea. Another useful device I saw lately is a portable dip station that you can fold under your bed – it is great for dips, bodyweight rows, etc… I think MikeOD mentioned it in one of his latest posts.

My experience with thick bar training – here in my “hood” (lol!) there are thick pullup bars (they are actually created so people hang their carpets and rugs and clean them by beating… don’t ask – it’s an ex communist country thing…).. So doing pullups on those bars makes regular pullups a breeze.

Good stuff man,

Yavor

David Gowing June 3, 2010 at 3:19 am

When I first read about the benefit of using thick bars to build grip strength, I just decided to get a really big beach towel and wrap it around a regular barbell. I did the trick, but it didn’t work as well on the dumbbells.

I can see how this product could save some time, and probably be more convenient if you workout at the gym. Unless you don’t mind people wondering who the guy with the bag of assorted towels is.

Vortex June 3, 2010 at 5:14 am

Another great article.

I use Fat Gripz and they are totally awesome :). After using Fat Gripz, normal barbells, dumbbells, chin bars etc feel like toothpicks lol

Been using Fat Gripz for 6 months now and my forearms and upper arms are very noticeably bigger. Prob the best $39 I ever spent….. apart from the money I spent on Visual Impact, of course πŸ™‚

sadman June 3, 2010 at 10:10 am

or u could get a piece of clothes, towel or hell lotta rubber bands and tie them things around your bar….

Chris Cannon June 3, 2010 at 11:50 am

Rusty,

It’s amazing the effect of a grip variation can change the dynamics of your workout. Like you, I’ve never used equipment like that before, but I can see how it could easily add a new challenge / dimension to your training.

As far as the FatGripz, that is definitely a “why didn’t I think of that” moment!

Chris Cannon

Iris June 3, 2010 at 2:17 pm

My question doesn`t fit at all, but I have waited for some time to find an appropriate post for it and there wasn`t any…At first I am apologizing for my English – I am not illiterate but German :-). Okay, here is the question and I would appreciate very much if one of the very well-informed people here would be so kind to answer it: Some time ago I learned from an article that people usually lose 20-25% of their muscle mass when confined to bedrest for about 2 weeks (which isn`t unrealistic if someone suffers from a bad flue). Does that mean that if this person resumes his or her usual activities afterwards (not training for muscle gain) a part of this mass is going to be lost forever? And if this person has achieved to gain some muscle mass before (doing strength training) does this mean that this person (if he or she has to work really hard to gain some pounds of muscle) that all the effort this person has invested for 6 months or so is gone?
This sounds depressing…

[email protected] June 3, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Good Tip,

I’ve seen you mention irradiation in your posts before, but this seems like a simple thing to implement.

Vortex June 3, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Iris

It is highly UNlikely that anyone would lose 20-25% of their muscle mass in 2 weeks. I doubt they would lose any muscle at all unless VERY sick. Even then, after 2 weeks they may lose 1 or 2%.

As soon as they start lifting again any lost muscle should return in a few days because of something called “muscle memory”.

Don’t worry about it.

Stayfitcentral.com June 3, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Thick bar training is a great way to train, especially with exercises that force you to grip really hard like deadlifts and shrugs.

In addition to using thick bars and the grips you write about on barbells you can also use them for doing chin and pull-ups. Try this if you really want to make these already hard exercises harder.

Curt

Yavor June 4, 2010 at 12:25 am

@Iris – the muscle will shrink very fast, that is true. However in a few weeks they will return to their normal size. I’ve had my lower leg in a cast due to basketball related injury and my calf had shrunk significantly. A few weejs later it was normal again.

Y.

Sean June 4, 2010 at 7:39 am

I actually tried this with my water bottle dumbbells and rope, worked great. I even blogged about it. I think rope may be a better solution than towels, if you want a quick and dirty method. Keep up the good work, Rusty.

gus June 4, 2010 at 6:29 pm

rusty.
what are your favoritte ore the best exersices to develop shoulder and chest width?
thx πŸ˜€

Vivian June 5, 2010 at 11:21 am

I am officially ADDICTED to your website! Nice work πŸ™‚

I am aiming for maximum fat loss and do 5 min warmup, then 20 min of HIIT on treadmill plus 20-30 min of steady state cardio afterwards (like you have advised). How should I incorporate resistance training in my routine? I usually do 20 min of weights after the HIIT and cardio. Is this the best way? (i do this 4 days a week with empty stomach in the morning)

Thanks.

Farley June 5, 2010 at 1:58 pm

This is an interesting post. I workout in my basement and have an old pipe that comes up out of the ground and curves at almost the top of the ceiling, creating a straight bar to hang from. It is capped and no longer used following renovations in my house.

So, I started using it as a chin up station and for leg raises. Following this, my grip strength has increased, but I never connected that until now. Makes total sense. This pipe is probably 3-4 inches in diameter so not the same exactly as what you have hear, but definitely harder than my pull up bar for the doors.

Now, when I hit the regular pul up bars, chins have gotten really easy. Good stuff.

Farley

Kit June 5, 2010 at 2:32 pm

I have a question that has been bugging me for a while and is wondering if you have the answer…

After a long workout, I can feel the heat of my body, especially my abs when I touch it. Is this a sign that the fat is burning? If I proceed to take a shower 30 minutes after my workout (while my body is still warmer than usual), would it ruin the effects of post-workout fat burning mechanisms? On a side note, I’ve heard that alternating hot and cold water boosts metabolism. Would this work for or against fat burning?

Thanks in advance.

secret police June 6, 2010 at 1:50 am

i have a rather unrelated question. Whenever i work out without eating anything, or when i’m on one of my fasting days, i feel slightly faint. how do i prevent this without making my weight loss come to a standstill? Does fatty acids substitute calories for energy?

secret police June 6, 2010 at 3:41 am

oh, and i also feel a throbbing pain nearmy collarbone after a long run

will June 7, 2010 at 2:04 am

Rusty addictive reading as always, discussing points that are so easy to relate to.

It explains exactly why the contraction i feel while doing exercises, particularly barbell curls, is far greater when using an olympic barbell or thick barbells.

Im certainly going to buy those grips asap,even if the site selling them does look a little bit how do we say ‘roid-esque’ , such a handy piece of equipment though.

Clement June 7, 2010 at 6:38 am

Hi Rusty,

I’ve been bouncing between many different diets for quite a while now and I’ve finally settled on the Warrior diet. However, I don’t abide totally by the principles. This is how I do it:

After 22h of fasting, I start with 2 slices of wholemeal bread with a layer of boiled chicken breast mixed with 1/2 a tablespoon of mayonaise, then continue with 1/2 a cup of brown rice with loads of Chinese food – veggies, fish and chicken. Then, I finish my meal off with 2-3 servings of fruits. I feel comfortable with this diet and drink loads of water throughout the day.

However, I have to ask – will my diet, which ,although not the best, does hit my 1500kcal daily BMR daily, help me to drop down to and maintain 8% bodyfat all year round? A bit of my training history: during the weekdays, I train with bodyweight and kettlebells 2-3 times a week for 45min and do sprint repeats and aerobic interval training to train for a soccer session every Saturday with very competitive friends.

Thank you in advance for your advice. I’m sure I speak for all the other commenters when I say I’m grateful for your generous help and advice on the blog. Visual Impact was really good, too!

Rafi Bar-Lev @ Passionate Fitness June 7, 2010 at 10:02 am

I was able to drastically increase my pullup strength by doing them on a really, really thick metal bar that was tied to two adjacent trees because of the increase in grip strength.

So this article is right on and awesome.

-Rafi

Clement June 7, 2010 at 10:52 am

P.S. When I meant that my diet’s not the best, I meant the food choices. Unlike what Hofmekler recommends, I don’t start with a salad…

admin June 7, 2010 at 3:23 pm

@ Eat Steak,

Yeah…I have the Naked Warrior book as well. Love all of the DragonDoor stuff.

@ Raymond,

The thicker bars feel better on my hands as well as wrist. I have a tendency to let the wrists flex back with a normal width bar…you aren’t able to do this with a thick bar or it falls out of your hands.

@ Mike,

Do marathon cardio along with intervals. Get outside and jog for 30-60 minutes a few times per week. Boxers do this to make weight. You will lose a bit of fat and muscle on the lower body. Works like a charm.

@ Darrin,

I would love to meet Pavel some day. He seems like he would be hilarious. Power to the People is such an entertaining read. I agree if you can’t grip a weight, then it doesn’t count as lifting it.

@ Yavor,

I love seeing videos and footage of where you live. It is such a different world. The cool thing is that people no matter where they live are more similar than different. I’ll take a look at that dip station. Sounds cool.

@ David,

Too funny. I do remember seeing footage of guys back in the Arnold days of lifting, using sponges. I think they were mainly doing it to pad the bar however. Those roided up guys were benching 400-500 pounds for reps. My 185-225 pound bench presses don’t hurt the hands as much πŸ™‚

@ Vortex,

I have e-mailed back and forth with Matt (the creator), he is cool as hell and actually purchased Visual Impact as well. I don’t recommend products very often, but this one is ingenious and well worth the money.

@ sadman,

You certainly can use creativity. This just makes it easier.

@ Chris,

The best inventions are always like this, aren’t they? In our neighborhood growing up, there was a mansion on the water by the inventor of those igloo houses for dogs. The couple was in their early 30’s and never had to work again. A hobby when I was little was trying to think of things to invent.

@ Iris,

You can always get back to where you were really quickly after losing muscle. It is always a slower road when you are blasting past the point where you have never traveled (with muscle size)…but getting to a previous point is pretty easy. Some people call this muscle-memory (as Vortex noted).

@ Gus,

For chest width, flat bench press with a wide grip and try to touch the collar bone with the bar, not lower on the chest. Also, flat bench flyes where you go from the bottom to the 3/4 of the way up (don’t touch the dumbbells at the top and just focus on the lower 3/4 of the movement). Shoulder width, lots of various lateral raises.

@ Vivian,

Thanks for the compliment! I enjoy posting and interacting with people on the site. I would recommend the exact same thing you are doing now, except do the lifting first. Intense exercise, even lifting, will release the Free Fatty acids from the fat cells into the bloodstream. The steady state cardio is what uses the fat for fuel. So when you lift you will begin the process where free fatty acids get released. This is like getting a jump start on HIIT…which will release these fatty acids in a big way. The steady state will be even more productive than normal, because it will have even more fat to use for energy. Hope that makes sense. Both ways work, it is just slightly better if you reverse the order.

@ Farley,

It does make sense that it would improve your strength on the regular chin up bar. 3-4″ is a thick bar…but I would love to have a bar that width.

@ Kit,

No…the heat of your body is just as indicator that you did the right things to burn body fat, it isn’t really what burns the fat. Back in the late 80’s “cold water immersion” was a big thing in many of the fitness magazines. We used to alternate hot and cold showers after training. I did this for about 4-5 months and noticed ZERO difference in body fat composition. It really isn’t worth the trouble. Followup studies showed that the effects were exaggerated. You will do much better with HIIT and some steady state cardio.

@ secret police,

First of all, this isn’t anything you are doing wrong…you are just wired a little differently. Some people do feel faint if they attempt to train in a fasted state. Here is what I recommend to those people. Eat one Fuji Apple about 20-30 minutes before training along with water and perhaps a cup of coffee. It will be only 60-80 calories and if you do your lifting first, you will use up all of those calories before you ever do HIIT. You will still get outstanding results.

@ Will,

Funny you should mention using olympic bars for curls. My biceps improved dramatically when I was in my early 20’s. It happened because I switched from the pre-set barbells with the thinner width bars, to an olympic bar. I was also eventually able to curl 120-130 pounds for reps…and when using the pre-set bars I only got up to 90 pounds. As far as Matt’s site goes…he does have a bunch of roided body building mag type of images. I have teased him about this. He actually likes the GQ look better than the body builder look. He’s a good guy.

@ Clement,

What I would recommend is to not do the one meal per day every day, or your body will adapt. Instead, do this 4 days max. For two of those days, eat less than what you have described and for two days more than you have described. Eat normal the other 3 days…and allow a higher calorie day maybe once per week. Your body will respond better if you mix it up. I wouldn’t worry about food order either.

@ Rafi,

How many pull ups did you get up to? I forgot what it was, but remembered it was super impressive.

Great Comments!

-Rusty

Clement June 8, 2010 at 5:47 am

Thanks, Rusty! I might be switching to Eat Stop Eat soon enough. I like the idea of switching things around every day. Great site!

Rafi Bar-Lev @ Passionate Fitness June 8, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Rusty,

27! It took me 2 years to work my way up to it too (when I started out I had trouble doing one).

Also, the “irradiation” concept is very interesting and I’ve actually told a few friends about it who all were pretty impressed.

Luke M-Davies June 9, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Cracking post Rusty – I too have large hands at the end of long slender forearms. There is nothing quite like feeling some good forearm burn, so I will definitely be doing more thick grip stuff in my workouts.

For those who have to be active outdoors, rockclimbing has given me some of the best forearm workouts ever. You wont see a decent rockclimber with untoned forearms that’s for sure!
Cracking post Rusty – I too have large hands at the end of long slender forearms. There is nothing quite like feeling some good forearm burn, so I will definitely be doing more thick grip stuff in my workouts. For those who have to be active outdoors, rockclimbing has given me some of the best forearm workouts ever. You wont see a decent rockclimber with untoned forearms that’s for sure!

Andrew @ MyLifeMyBody June 9, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Great Article Rusty! I have followed your blog for quite some time but have never commented much so I figure why not contribute!

One other point to note with the type of grip training you are mentioning is that it can also be very beneficial for improving pull up ability – both in advanced trainees as well as beginners. Much of what I have found personally and with trainees (as well as heard from others) is that the flexor muscles of the forearms are actually what fatigue first when someone is trying to complete an extended set of pull ups. Many people (myself included) would argue that the lats are very strong and fatigue-resistant but the smaller muscles of the forearms actually prevent you from holding on long enough to fully exhaust the lats and the rest of the posterior chain!

A lot of marines (who of course partake regularly in challenging PT) have focused on simply hanging from the bar for extended periods of time to allow their distal muscles (forearms) to aclimate to to longer time under tension, thus allowing them to rest between pull up reps at the bottom, and then squeezing out more pull ups after the lats have recovered a bit.

While I’m on the subject of pull ups, there was a really great article done recently by Nate Green over at Tmuscle that talked about training with lat pulldowns using the upper lats, scapular retractors, and lower lats in three phases to ultimately improve pull up ability. Interesting read!
Great Article Rusty! I have followed your blog for quite some time but have never commented much so I figure why not contribute! One other point to note with the type of grip training you are mentioning is that it can also be very beneficial for improving pull up ability – both in advanced trainees as well as beginners. Much of what I have found personally and with trainees (as well as heard from others) is that the flexor muscles of the forearms are actually what fatigue first when someone is trying to complete an extended set of pull ups. Many people (myself included) would argue that the lats are very strong and fatigue-resistant but the smaller muscles of the forearms actually prevent you from holding on long enough to fully exhaust the lats and the rest of the posterior chain! A lot of marines (who of course partake regularly in challenging PT) have focused on simply hanging from the bar for extended periods of time to allow their distal muscles (forearms) to aclimate to to longer time under tension, thus allowing them to rest between pull up reps at the bottom, and then squeezing out more pull ups after the lats have recovered a bit. While I’m on the subject of pull ups, there was a really great article done recently by Nate Green over at Tmuscle that talked about training with lat pulldowns using the upper lats, scapular retractors, and lower lats in three phases to ultimately improve pull up ability. Interesting read!

Jay June 11, 2010 at 1:42 pm

To all fellow readers……I am looking for some advice……I am 6’2″ 197 pounds (20%BF)……I am in my late 30’s……I would like to be 185 pounds (10%BF)……I have created a program of Upper Body workout M/W/F (pushups/pullups/dips) and HIIT on T/TH/Sa (sprint on a TRACK for 30″ followed by 60″ rest for 8 total times)…..I will add HIIT rope jumping on Upper Body days….I am a former basketball player who had surgery and gained lots of body fat and munched on junk food over the past winter :-)….I workout first thing in morning and am SUPPOSED to eat or drink protein drink 1-2 hours after workout so dont know how to incorporate ESE (fasting twice per week)…..I am fortunate that I dont have to work during the summer so I feel I could do more to get faster results……ANY SUGGESTIONS are appreciated……This website rocks and I have enjoyed many posts and cooments…..Have a great summer everyone…….Thanks
Jay

Jay June 11, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Oh yeah…..Currently I am not eating pasta/white rice/bread…..But I actually have love handles and a gut for first time in my life…..Ah , getting older so have to be more disciplined…..Thanks again
Jay

Chris June 13, 2010 at 11:51 am

Another tip for grip strength: Try doing your pull-ups just hanging from your fingers (i.e. don’t put your upper palm on the bar). It works! I do my pull-ups hanging off the edge of a balcony, so it’s just gripping a 90 degree angle – nothing to wrap your fingers around. Kills my forearms, but it’s great!

JC June 14, 2010 at 1:17 pm

I’ve only been to one gym in my entire life that had a fat bar. I trained with it out of curiosity and it’s definitely, umm, different – though in a good way.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen fat gripz – I might have to order a pair as they look interesting.

As far as not using straps.. For the most part, I agree. However, sometimes they are necessary. For instance, if one is aiming to get a decent amount of volume in on back exercises and their grip wears out too soon, straps can come in real handy.

Same also goes with certain movements like the deadlift. If you’re doing a hefty amount of volume working up to heavy weights, they could be useful if you’ve still got a few reps left in the tank despite a grip that’s worn out.

just my .02 cents Rusty!!!

JC June 14, 2010 at 1:21 pm

@Chris: another good way to develop grip strength is by doing towel pullups!

Rob July 8, 2010 at 12:23 am

The new grip4orce takes the thick bar training to a whole new level. These grips you have to squeeze, I can literally feel muscles I thought I never had from the resistance in these grips and also the added 2″diameter. These guys got it right.

Nate July 19, 2010 at 2:21 pm

You could also just wrap a long and narrow towel (maybe cut it to shape) around a bar to increase the thickness. This is what i sometimes do.

Leonid July 20, 2010 at 5:19 am

It’s incredible. I have been pondering over how to blast my upper body strength without adding mass to my torso and adding size to my arms, especially biceps.

And, lol and behold, at work we have pull-up bar, THICK pull-up bar which I have always been avoiding!

1 week of Pavel Tsatsouline’s ladders of pull-ups on this bar (it was really tough!) and suddenly I was able to press cleanly 32 kg (70 pounds) kettlebell which I had been trying to do for a long time before but seemingly was in a plateau phase!
And this 1 week injected 1 sm (0.4 in.) into my arms. Though it gave me some size also on torso which is not what I want but nevertheless, it’s great.

I wonder how this simple concept is so freakishly effective.

Thank you very much for the top-notch information!

Tara Schultz December 24, 2010 at 2:24 am

Rusty addictive reading as always, discussing points that are so easy to relate to. It explains exactly why the contraction i feel while doing exercises, particularly barbell curls, is far greater when using an olympic barbell or thick barbells. Im certainly going to buy those grips asap,even if the site selling them does look a little bit how do we say ‘roid-esque’ , such a handy piece of equipment though.

buying shares for beginners January 30, 2011 at 8:23 am

The improved grip of the thick bar should also improve safety while weight training, reducing the chance of the bar slipping.

carl womack April 5, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I’m 60 this May, 2011. For years, since I was knee high to a ‘hopper I’ve used a FAT bat handle. Your control and aim for an in-field shot was so sharp it was weird! And power, you felt like you could knock down a brick wall, and the 3rd baseman wanted a 1st baseman’s glove.

Chop wood with a big round handle. Your foreman-arms were on fire, blazen!! Gordie Howe has a famous pic of himself pitchin’ hay. His fore-arms looked 12″ across the top. Still got that pic, inspired me as a kid. By 22 I was kiddingly called Popeye, all because of your technique that I didn’t even new existed. From the games I played, I’m pretty stoved-up now, but can hold and on not let go (your tech.). I give about as good as I get now. Thanks for the memories. 5’6″- 220. Keep happiness in your heart and ride with the Great One. Apache Carl

Tim @ Behind The Workout December 4, 2011 at 7:25 pm

After seeing Jay Cutler using them, I finally got my pair of fat gripz last week. I can definitely feel my grip failing near the end of the set, especially on back exercises. The soreness (and pump) is quite satisfying too. This forces me to use less weight but I am not so worried because this is one of those things where you take one step back and two steps forward. With greater forearm strength and irradiation, I should be able to further activate my arm muscles!

eequipfan June 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm

i just starting using these myself (the fatgripz), and i’ve never had such a pump in my forearms! i can’t wait to see the difference this makes for me in the next few weeks.

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