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Shake Hands With the Fat Boys by Daniel Hersee - CrossFit Journal

In Equipment

June 20, 2011

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Daniel Hersee says using equipment with an increased diameter can improve strength and reduce injuries.

Old-time strongmen knew all about thick-bar training and used it to great effect, but it’s been forgotten in modern times. Recently, there has been something of a rebirth of thick-bar training, with National Football League teams, Army Special Forces, Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters and powerlifters using thick bars to help make significant strength gains.

Thick bars are simply barbells, dumbbells and pull-up bars with a thicker diameter. A standard barbell, dumbbell or pull-up bar typically has a handle with a diameter of about 1 inch. A thick bar will often have a diameter of more like 2.5 inches. Some look more like truck axles, and if you’ve ever picked one up you will know that it feels completely different. Thick-bar training simply means using a thick barbell, thick dumbbells and a thick chin-up bar in your usual training program.

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8 Comments on “Shake Hands With the Fat Boys”


wrote …

Great article! I have a question about doing chinups and pullups with a thicker bar. Should you wrap your thumbs around the bar or lay all your digits over the bar? It seems to me that the latter would kind of defeat the purpose, although it would have more carryover to the false grip on the rings.


wrote …

Very cool article. I learned about thick bars a couple of years back so I started using my Fat Gripz on everything. These little babies are, IMHO, even better than thick bars - cheap, work on bars, dumbbells and pullup bars. and portable. Had the best strength and muscle increases of my life since using them.


wrote …

Interesting article, but the glaring omission is that modern-day strongmen athletes have been training with axles for some time and you can see them in strongman contests across the country.


wrote …

Oh man. If you guys keep posting articles like this i might be broke soon. Just ordered a pair of FatGripz.


wrote …

I got a pair of Fat Gripz at the beginning of this year. I have to admit when I ordered them I didn't expect all that much (been training now for 20 years), but figured it was going to be something different so I gave it a shot. I was so far of the mark, because they are incredible. I guess the idea of the thick bar really works because my arms started growing again after years of being much the same, my strength went up on all my pulling exercises, and for some reason my pushing exercises too. I don't understand why the pushing exercises got better though, but I'm not complaining. Great product.


wrote …

Tight budget: Can I use scaffolding poles?


wrote …

Used them yesterday on the WOD with 400m run, 145 deadlift, push-up. Having a hard time writing with a pen today. Cool.


wrote …

Hey - a quick note about a recent discovery that might be helpful to somebody:

While I've used the Fat Gripz to 'handicap' myself in certain drills, such as thrusters, cleans, or presses, based on the adaptations described in the article, I have found a way the Gripz can be of great help to people who struggle with a regular bar.

My wife has arthritis in her wrists, to the point that snatches or overhead squats were simply too painful to do well, if at all. We realized that if we put the Fat Gripz at the outer edges of her grip, the angle for her wrist is changed quite a bit, and now she can handle loads heavy enough to challenge the rest of her.

Imagine her with her arms out wide on an overhead squat. Her thumbs and forefingers are making an 'OK' sign around the bar, just inside each Fat Grip, but the outer edges of her hands - the far halves of the heels of her hand - are resting on the Fat Gripz.

If you can't imagine it as you're at your computer, run one arm out to the side, as if you're taking a wide grip. Draw your thumb back toward you, as far as it will go. That angle on the wrist is murder to someone with arthritis - or an injury, etc., so ease off. Let your thumb go back up a bit. The pinky side drops, as does the far corner of your hand as it would against the edge of the grip. It's like a bent bar. That makes all the difference in the world.

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