Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


The Fat Bar

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:

  • 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.

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.

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



NB : if you love talking about strength-training as much as I do, you might also like to check out the weekly newsletter. A regular dose of fitness-focussed discussions, absolutely free.

And if you'd like to check out any of the stuff mentioned above (or in the comments), swing by Amazon. Huge assortment of fitness gear.



  1. Monday, 22 Mar 2021 – Strength & Fitness Newsletter - […] tip comes to us from the obscenely strong Max Shank, in the form of a video from the article…
  2. Monday, 12 Apr 2021 – Strength & Fitness Newsletter - […] tip comes to us from the obscenely strong Max Shank, in the form of a video from the article…
  3. Monday, 6 Dec 2021 – Strength & Fitness Newsletter - […] Gem From The Vault : The Fat BarMax Shank (Strong as Hell) | Follow @MaxShankFantastic piece of equipment. […]
  4. Monday, 18 Apr 2022 | Strength & Fitness Newsletter - […] This tip comes to us from the obscenely strong Max Shank, in the form of a video from the…
  5. Monday, 23 Oct 2023 | Strength & Fitness Newsletter - […] Gem From The Vault : The Fat BarMax Shank (Strong as Hell)The joy of a 2″ bar with spinning…

Leave a Reply

What's This?

Straight to the Bar is the online home of fitness enthusiast Scott Bird, and looks at the many training approaches, essential techniques, uncommon exercises and superb equipment to help you become as strong as humanly possible. In short, this site is the home of all things strength.

images of strength


Want to see (and learn) more Feats of Strength like this? Dive in.

Just Joined Us? Try These.

There are some incredible writers on the team here. To give you an idea, check these out :

If you enjoyed these, check out the complete ‘Best Of Straight to the Bar‘ list. Fantastic.

setting up a home gym?

If you’re getting ready to put together a solid Home Gym (fantastic thing), here’s how.

For more, swing by the full guide. Absolutely free.

And of course, you’ll find everything you need over in the SttB Strength Store. Massive range.

Ever Tried Kettlebells?

If you’ve seen people using them but never taken the plunge yourself, here are the ones I use personally. You can also pick up a book/DVD/course if you want to learn how to put them to work.

Ready To Learn Even More?

I love learning new skills, and the many seminars & workshops available are a great way to do that. If you’re looking for a specific type of workshop nearby, check out the ones on Dragon Door. Great mix of kettlebell and calisthenics-based offerings.

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program.

If you’re a fitness professional and love the Precision Nutrition approach, check out their certification offering. To say it’s comprehensive is an understatement.

Wherever You Are, We Are.

In addition to the main site, you can share your strength-training passion with a like-minded community on :

Wherever you like to hang out, get your regular dose of strength. Straight to the Bar.

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, and on Twitter & Facebook.
Drawing of Scott Andrew Bird performing a deadlift. Artwork by Vince Palko.