Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


The Investments part IV : Two Brutal Drills to Punish the Arms
Plate Curl

Adam demonstrating the Plate Curl.

Productive strength training is similar to the process of forging steel Japanese katanas. The steel is heated in an extremely hot fire and beat upon with a heavy hammer, folded over and over upon its self. The steel is folded and heated so many times over that the entire structure of the steel changes. It becomes light weight, extremely durable, flexible to stress and able to hold the sharpest edge.

Japanese steel blades were considered the finest weapons of the middle ages, able to sever the wielders’ opponents with a single swipe of their razor sharp blades. So finely crafted are these blades that many have held an edge for hundreds of years.
There are structures in the body that can be honed to the point where their edge will never fail you. I am referring to the tendons of the wrist; responsible for incredible power in the lower arms. Once these tendons are built, they will last a life time. A great example; look at the forearms of any man who labored his whole life. In his 70’s or 80’s, his shoulders and back may appear frail, but those wrist tendons are still popping out like steel cables. The most shining example can be found on the powerful frame of Lawrence “Slim” Farman, known to the world as “Slim the Hammerman“. King of leverage lifting, he is still performing in his 70’s and he is AMAZING. Slim’s tendons are massive, built from a life time of demolishing stones with a 16lbs cutting sledge, and a million hours of intense steel bending and hammer levering workouts.
I am not going to promise you the Hammerman’s strength from taking on this material, but I will put money on stronger hands and forearms from these investments.


Severe leverage disadvantage, intense thumb involvement, and a tendon workout second to none; I am talking about the plate curl. If I had to label the one of the rarest feats of strength in the world, I will call out the 45lbs plate curl, performed in a strict controlled manner. This is the starting point to greatness–the plate curl.

As a professional strongman, I was always seeking ways to get more powerful arms; my search ended this year when I found the plate curl. If you’re very serious about getting strong, you need a pinch lever block. Sold by master equipment fabricator Ryan Pitts, owner of The pinch lever block allows the weakest man to train the plate curl to become the strongest.


The hot potato is a drill invented by expert Kettlebell juggler and all around tough guy Jeff Martone. Jeff has pushed this drill for years now as a method to increase shock absorption, strengthen the midsection, and build strong lungs and heart. After several years of following his advice, I will tell you it does all of the above. The repetitive nature of the shock absorption also builds your bone structure and tendon strength.
If you have tried this in the past and didn’t feel the effects on your arms, I will tell you how to fix it. As my little brother would say “put some stank on it” – you need to throw it higher with more leg drive, and decelerate the bell in the heel of the palm with it stuck to the rib cage. The basic form has a simple learning curve. Anyone can pick this drill up in minutes. The challenge is not skill application, the challenge is fighting the pain of lactic acid filling every muscle in your body as you continue to take the hit from the bell.
Work this drill with a 24 or 28kg bell and you will know what I am talking about. I prefer to work this drill for time instead of reps as suggested by Jeff in his H2H juggling circuits DVD.
This concludes this month’s investments.

Previously in this series :

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 (there's also a daily version available). A regular dose of fitness-focussed discussions, absolutely free.



  1. 70 of the Best : 7 Years of Straight to the Bar | Straight to the Bar - […] Investments (part II, III, IV, V and VI) - 'Unbreakable' Adam Glass Several tools which form the basis of…

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