Grip Training - Lifting the Inch Replica Dumbbell II

Preparing to lift this strange beast.

In part one of this series, I introduced you to the Inch Replica Dumbbell, a 172-pound cast iron dumbbell with a 2.38-inch diameter handle that literally tries to rip your fingers out of their sockets when you try to pick it up.

These Inch Dumbbells are lurking around the countryside, so you must begin preparing now so that when you are confronted with the challenge of lifting the Inch, you will be ready. Here are some of the ways I have prepared to lift the Inch in the past.


The SAID principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands) states that the body will respond specifically to how it is trained. With that in mind, in order to train specifically to lift the Inch, I knew I would have to try to replicate the conditions of the Inch dumbbell in my training. Since the handle of the Inch is so large, I knew I needed to include thick-handled implements in my training.

Home Made Inch Loader

When I began training for the Inch, I was on a very limited budget. There were many companies making thick handled loadable dumbbells at the time, but I just didn't have the money lying around to get one. I also did not have the skills to weld myself one, so I made one out of PVC pipe and duct tape.

I took a piece of 2-inch outside diameter PVC pipe about 18 inches long and found the center. There, I began wrapping duct tape around it until it was about 2.5 inches thick. I wrapped 3 of these coils, side-by-side, to make the handle surface. I worked slowly and was very deliberate when I applied the duct tape, and made sure the layers were very smooth - just like the Inch Dumbbell handle itself. These days, I no longer use my original PVC Inch Loader. One day in training I dropped it with about 150 pounds on it and the pipe cracked the sleeves where I load the plates.

inchduct.jpgAs you can see in the picture, the duct tape gripping surface ended up being longer than the inch replica's handle. A longer handle can make a dumbbell much easier to lift, especially if you grip the dumbbell off center, allow it to tilt, and brace the edge of the inside plate against your arm. I always tried to grab it right in the center and keep it as level as possible.

To qualify for the Inch Dumbbell Lift on the Gripboard Records List, you must lift the Inch Dumbbell without excessive tilt. The reason behind this is when the Inch tilts, the globe bell can be braced against the heel of the hand, or even the wrist. By initiating this contact, the athlete can reduce how much the Inch rotates, making the lift easier. To preserve the genuineness of the feat, the rules were modified so that the athlete had to lift it as level as possible. inchtilt.jpgThe picture at the left shows the inch being tilted too much to count for an official lift.

ductroll.jpgYou can also make a lift with the duct tape handle easier by placing your thumb or fingertips on the edge of the duct tape, especially if the ends of the tape become rolled. This is not going to do anything for you in the long run, so I suggest being careful when placing your hand on the handle, and making sure you are not getting any assistance from the end of the tape coil.

This inch trainer proved to be a pretty accurate training aid. In fact, the slick duct tape handle, combined with the fact that I wrapped it a bit thicker than the actual Inch handle, has led me to believe that lifting 172 on the loadable would have been tougher than lifting the actual Inch Dumbbell. The beauty of this home-made device was that I could train specifically for the feat at a fraction of the cost.

Steel Thick Loadable Dumbbell

Once I dropped and cracked the PVC inch-loader, I decided it was time to get myself one made out of steel that would hold up to the beatings I would be putting it through.

2.5.jpgI recommend getting your Inch-trainer loadable handles from John Beatty at Fat Bastard Barbell Company. His equipment is excellent, his turn-round time is fantastic and he supports and sponsors just about every Grip Contest in the United States and abroad. You can get them right from his website, or you can get them from APT Pro Wrist Straps. The loadables APT sells are made by John Beatty and by getting them from APT, you can support two perennial sponsors of the Diesel Crew's Global Grip Challenge.

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Brilliant device. If your shoulders aren't quite as flexible as you'd like, grab The Rotater. Love it.
Already got one? Looking for something specific? Swing by the Straight to the Bar Store. It's all in there.

Rolling Thunder

rt.jpgThe Rolling Thunder Revolving Deadlift Handle is a product sold by IronMind Enterprises, Inc, another of our dedicated GGC sponsors.

What makes the Rolling Thunder so vicious is the rotating gripping surface. When you pull, the rotating action forces your hand so that the space between your fingers and thumb end up pointing down toward the floor. rthand.jpg
This is the weakest point of your grasp on the implement, and you must have tremendous finger tip and thumb strength in order to pull the weight stack to lockout. You can pick yourself up a Rolling Thunder at IronMind's Store.

Shot Loadable Replicas

Another option for replicating the Inch Dumbbell without actually purchasing one is a Shot Loadable version. These dumbbells are hollow and have holes in the bells through which steel shot can be poured to gradually increase the weight of the implement. You can see an example of a Shot Loadable Dumbbell at PDA's site.

These are some the most common implements athletes use to train specifically to lift the Inch Dumbbell. All of these are great options for preparing for battle with the Inch.

Next time, we're going to dig a little deeper with some of this equipment and see the lifting techniques we can use to get the most out of these implements.

Be sure to sign up for the Straight to the Bar Newsletter, so you never miss a post.

Thanks for reading,

Napalm's Blog

Also in this series :

Jedd 'Napalm' Johnson

Jedd 'Napalm' Johnson is a name synonymous with grip strength, and he has been training, sharing and competing with these skills for many, many years.

To acquire some serious grip strength yourself, head over to The Grip Authority and check out his superb ebooks and DVDs.

One of our favourites - Fixing Elbow Pain - takes a very thorough look at banishing elbow injuries completely. If you've ever experienced something like Tennis Elbow or Golfer's Elbow, you'll understand just how incredible that is. Fantastic.

Jedd blogs over at The Diesel Crew, and can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Swing by.

Like this? Check out :

Grip Strength - Where Is It?.

There's a great reason for doing some serious grip work.

Shrugs - The Most Misunderstood Exercise in North America?.

There's more to it than you might think.

DIY Equipment Ideas.

Stuck for ideas? Try these.

Setting Up A Home Gym.

Ready to get started? Great.

Of course, if you enjoyed these, I'd highly recommend grabbing the Strength & Fitness Newsletter. Delivered weekly, and absolutely free.

(there's also a Daily Update, if you're looking for an even larger dose of training-related goodness.)

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