The Fat Bar

Up for a challenge?

Fat bar
Max Shank's customised 2" bar with spinning sections.
In the strength world there is a myriad of training tools to use; barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, clubbells... the list goes on. Many of these tools have their own unique benefits and would be a great supplement to any strength program.

There is a tool that few people know about, that has some amazing advantages over the more traditional equipment. If someone told you they had a tool that would instantly make any exercise more difficult with less poundage while simultaneously taking your grip strength to levels you had only imagined what would you say? Sign me up! Enter the Fat Bar.

Most of you have probably heard of the fat bar (or thick bar). It can be anywhere from 2"-3" in diameter and it will break you. There are many advantages to the fat bar:

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This looks superb. Mike Gillette's 'Rings of Power' explains the various ways to use - progressively - this incredible tool. With clear emphases on both strength and rehabilitation, it's an ideal starting point for many. Particularly the 'over 40' (of which I'm a proud member) crowd. For a glimpse into the world of 'Rings of Power', a brief quote from the review page :
If you care about getting strong, staying strong, and remaining injury free, Rings of Power is essential reading. I incorporated rings into my own training program a couple of years ago and am glad I did. At 45 years old, I am able to continue my strength pursuits unhindered by the joint and tendon injuries that plague many in the over-40 athletic community. - Dr Chris Hardy
Mike Gillette's 'Rings of Power'. Perfect.
NB : To see the other training-related books we recommend, swing by the 'Recommended Reading' page. And for a complete list, head on over to Goodreads.

Now I'm sure you want to go get yourself a fat bar. And if you look online you're going to find a few fat bars ranging from 219.00 + shipping to over $500. If you've got it, more power to you. But there is an easier way.

You have 2 options other than purchasing one online (ouch. $$$)

  1. Find a local welder and tell him what you want, depending on who you get it will be just fine--and certainly cheaper.

  2. Make one yourself.

I personally made my own bar and it took nothing more than a walk around home depot.

When you go to home depot make sure you bring a couple of 2.5lb plates to make sure that the bar is the right size.

As far as the bar itself is concerned you have 2 options: A piece of heavy duty pipe, or a fence post. I chose the fence post--it was sturdy and it only cost me 14 bucks (so far it has held up to 250lbs). The heavy duty pipe I was told could handle a lot more.

The next step was to fix some collars- in my case this was 2 screw adjusted fence post attachments. Worked like a charm.

York Collars
York Collars.
Although something like this could work as well.

Now it gets different.

I slipped two pieces of 8"x 3" wide heavy duty PVC pipe to create a spinning "Rolling Thunder" style bar.

Rotating Section
Rotating Section.
The 3" spinning handles make the bar damn near impossible to get a mechanical advantage over the bar, unless you have a vice grip, that thing won't budge. If you have a welder make your bar you can add the PVC later.

You can use your fat bar in place of any ordinary barbell routine; overhead pressing, bench pressing, snatching, clean and jerk, barbell complexes. Anytime you do a barbell exercise ask yourself, "could I be using a fat bar and really challenging myself?"

The spinning fat bar will force your body to respond efficiently, give you a vice grip, and turn every lift into a battle.

Max Shank

Max Shank is a personal trainer based in Encinitas, California. Find out how to become obscenely strong and check out his own training at Strong as Hell.

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DIY Equipment Ideas

Stuck for ideas? Try these.

Leverage lifts: A Reverse Engineering Problem Turned to a Breakthrough in Power World-class gripster Adam T Glass looks at several truly incredible leverage lifts. If you're after seriously powerful wrist, hand and grip strength - this is definitely the place to start. Superb.

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

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