Fat Bar Training

Matt holding the Gym Ratz Professional Fat Bar.

In one form or another, fat grip training has always been a staple part of the origins of strength training. Many older readers will probably remember such things as thick-grip circus dumbbells, Apollon’s Wheels/ Axle (2 train wheels and axle) etc. Thanks to athletes like Magnús Ver Magnússon, modern day strongman competition has reverted back to more traditional “functional” strongman lifts – Farmers Walk, Barrel Throw, Appollon’s Axle, Draft Horse Pull (now with trucks etc.), Sack Loading race, Atlas Stones etc., rather than the more static events (powerlifting) of the late 70’s and 80’s.

More recently, and the reason for writing this article, strongman-style training has become increasingly widespread with many gyms and PT’s offering kettlebell classes, bootcamps, Cross Fit etc. This style of training is very far from new! Only a decade ago, the majority of those promoting it now would’ve likely pooh-poohed the idea, favoring the latest biomechanically designed machine of the time. Personally, within reason, I think their introduction in to mainstream gyms is a good thing – a great way to “mix-up” training, which you know I’m a great believer in! One thing that does frustrate me though is the continued advertisement of “functional” training benefits. Yes, I’ve known strongmen athletes, wrestlers, NYC Fireman etc. use fat-grip training for its functional benefits for many years, but, the average office worker? Come on!

With regards grip-strength and fat bar training, I grew up in a gym culture being told “If you can’t grip it, it’s too heavy” e.g. improve your grip-strength & your poundages will increase - no bypassing lack of grip-strength by using wraps, chalk, & other weight training aids. Without doubt, fat-bar training is a great way to improve grip-strength.

Aside from the clear grip-strength requirements when training with fat bars (your forearm flexors will bulge like Popeye’s), something often overlooked is how a fat bar changes the dynamic of a lift, often requiring movement/s to be performed with greater control and accuracy, therefore, recruiting more general muscular control as appose to sheer brute force from the prime movers. With this in mind, in terms of general strength training/ bodybuilding, when sensibly included within your gym workout routine, fat bar training can be an advantageous approach to help reduce the risk of injury and potentially develop a better physique.

So, in conclusion, integrating fat bar training with general pulling and curl work (deadlifts, bent-over rows, barbell curls etc.) should greatly improve your grip-strength, it’ll certainly also help towards an activity (sport or work) you do of a similar ilk. You may also wish to consider occasional fat bar training for less obvious lifts in order to change the dynamics of an exercise, clean and press is a great example to try (please start light though!).

Of greater interest, you may wish to try our more versatile Globe Gripz. Add Globe Gripz to almost any bar, the regular eagle-claw-grip feels far more natural than a simple fat-grip and there's greater "functional" carry-over to many sports - e.g. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (and other martial arts), wresting, arm wrestling, rock climbing, baseball, cricket, American football, rugby. Find out more here: Globe Gripz


So, there you are: a simple and effective way to increase grip-strength and add training variety: fat bar/ Globe Gripz training. Enjoy!


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Main image: Matt with the Gym Ratz Professional Fat Bar.
Secondary image: Globe Gripz by Gym Professor.