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:
Increased grip strength.Attitude. You don't half-ass anything when you're using a bar you can barely hold on to.
Kinetic Linkage. Possibly the most overlooked element of any strength feat is the linkage between the muscles that are used in completing a given movement. If you plan on doing anything with the fat bar, you had better be gripping it with all your might unless you want to be pinned underneath it. By gripping the bar with extreme force your muscles will experience "irradiation" which is a fancy way of saying your forearm, bicep, tricep, deltoid, will activate (for most people their entire body will tense up, and this is a key element to strength training). Try to make a white-knuckle grip without tightening up the rest of your arm.
Preventing Leakage: This could go with the previous point of irradiation, but the point is that by gripping the bar harder your body will have no break in your kinetic chain. By keeping your shoulder into its socket (packing your shoulder) during an overhead press, you prevent leakages and allow the stronger muscles to dictate the movement. Your tight grip will make this easier. Try shrugging your shoulders as high as you can before your next overhead press and you will see that your strength is nonexistent.
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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. $$$)
Find a local welder and tell him what you want, depending on who you get it will be just fine--and certainly cheaper.
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.
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.
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 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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Matt Palfrey.UPDATE (5 Mar 2014) :
Unfortunately a connectivity issue got in the way of this one, so we've rescheduled it for Monday (full details below). Apologies for that.
If you've been involved with the fitness industry for any length of time, chances are you've thought about setting up your own gym. Perhaps you've already got one.
Either way - how do you promote it? Attract new customers? Learn about what works, and what doesn't?
This week we'll be discussing this area in detail, answering all of the above and a whole lot more. Joining us is Strength & Conditioning Coach Matt Palfrey, together with Personal Trainer (and Strength Athlete) Josh Hewett. Fantastic.
NB : We'd love to hear your questions and comments. If there's a particular subject you'd like Matt and Josh to address, just swing by the event page for this Gymchat (during the discussion itself) and jump in the Q&A.
And if you'd like to point your friends/colleagues to the discussion, just use the 'share' button at the top of that page. The more the merrier.
Thanks again to everyone who watched and sent in questions for the discussion Gymchat 237 - Old-Time Strongman Training [with 'Physical Culture Renaissance Man' Logan Christopher, joined by Personal Trainer (and Strength Athlete) Josh Hewett] - much appreciated. If you haven't seen it yet (or simply want to go over a particular point again), here's the entire video.
Logan Christopher.Old-Time Strongman Training - Phonebook Tearing, Frying Pan Rolling, Kettlebell Juggling and a whole lot more. Love it.
They're certainly uncommon areas: how do you train for them? What are the benefits of these approaches? What sorts of equipment is involved?
This week we'll be discussing the entire field of Old-Time Strength in obsessive detail. Joining us is 'Physical Culture Renaissance Man' Logan Christopher, together with Personal Trainer (and Strength Athlete) Josh Hewett. Fantastic.
If you've got questions/comments for Logan or Josh, just swing by the event page for this Gymchat. And if you'd like to point your friends/colleagues to the discussion, just use the 'share' button at the top of that page. The more the merrier.
Thanks again to everyone who watched and sent in questions for the discussion Gymchat 236 - Programming for Strength vs Hypertrophy [with Strength Coach Jason Paris, joined by Personal Trainer (and Strength Athlete) Josh Hewett] - much appreciated. If you haven't seen it yet (or simply want to go over a particular point again), here's the entire video.
Görner the Mighty.This is one of the books that Logan mentioned in the Gymchat last week - Görner the Mighty. Good stuff.
Although I was lucky enough to read the original book many years ago, I'm extremely keen to dive in to this version - the 2012 reprint - as soon as possible. I suspect that things will look quite different now; after training for a number of years.
Görner the Mighty.
If you ever wake up with that 'just run over by a truck' feeling, you need a copy of Tim Hull's Functional Correction Manual. Not only will it help you to locate and repair the problem, it'll help prevent it happening in the future.
When it comes to body transformation - whether that's an increase in strength, packing on a bit of muscle or losing a bit of excess fat - this is the perfect place to start. Dr Berardi's Precision Nutrition.
If you've ever watched a Bruce Lee film and marveled at his strength, speed, agility, endurance, flexibility or muscularity, this book should take pride of place in your collection. Unlike many other writings covering everything from Lee's training methods to nutrition, this book is based not on the recollections of people around him; but on Lee's own notes. Brilliant.
For a full list of what we're reading and watching at the moment, just head over to the Recommended Books & DVDs page. See you there.