I am guessing that most of my readers browsing through this article have no idea what I am talking about nor do they have access to thick bars. I was fortunate to have thick bars in college but they were always tucked away in the corner and I felt like I was the only one using them. If you don’t have the luxury of using thick bars I found something that will do the trick. It is a genius idea and have found it to be very beneficial. Let me first explain the benefits of thick bar training and how it can greatly improve your upper body strength.
Pushing And Pulling Movements Enhanced With Stronger Grip!
I am assuming you already have an idea how important grip strength is when it comes to pushing and pulling movements. If you have a weak grip you won’t be able to hold the weights but that is only a part of the big picture. I was fortunate to read about a very interesting concept of “irradiation.” I learned about this from Soviet Special Forces Trainer, Pavel Tsatsouline and Rusty Moore’s article on “The Strength Training Rep Dissected and Explained.” I have an outline straight from their site because I want to make sure you have the full content.
Outline of “Irradiation”
Did you know that you can contract a muscle much harder if you contract the muscles surrounding it?
- Try flexing your bicep as hard as possible without making a fist.
- Now try and flex your bicep as hard as possible while making as tight as fist as possible and squeezing.
- You should be able to contract your bicep much harder when making a tight fist.
- This is called “irradiation”…what is happening is that the nerve impulses of surrounding muscles can amplify the effect of that muscle.
Surrounding Muscles “Borrow” Strength from Your Forearms
Make a fist as hard as possible and try not to flex your biceps or triceps. This is pretty hard to do. As you flex and generate tension in your forearms, you will also generate tension in your biceps and triceps without even trying. Gaining strength is simply the skill of generating more tension “on demand” to the muscles being worked. If you flex your forearms hard enough you will begin to feel tension not just in your arms, but in your shoulders, chest, and back. This is a fundamental principle to increase uppper body strength.
Sometimes You Just Can’t Get A Good Enough Grip
Gripping a bar hard will stimulate the effects of irradiation but the problem some people have is that there hands are too large. Trying to have a hard grip on a thin bar can be difficult and can really cause you to miss out on some amazing gains in strength in your forearms. This is typically the problem for those who have very large hands or extra long fingers. That is where thick bar training comes in to play!
[This is the width of a typical thick bar. These are sold over at FunctionalHandStrength.com]
Using Thick Bars Force Your Forearms to Generate Tension
If you are doing any kind of pressing movements you can generate a stronger squeeze on the bar which causes more tension in the arms. This just doesn’t work as well with a thin bar. Thick bar training will make you grip the bar a lot harder, therefore allowing the effects of irradiation take their course. The more the irradiation principle is utilized the better you will be at any other kind of pressing or pulling movements. (bench press, rows, military press, curls, chin ups, etc) One thing I forgot to mention is lifting straps…don’t use them! Lifting straps seem like a good idea on paper in that you can use more weight for pulling movements, but they weaken your ability to generate tension in your forearms and get the full benefit of irradiation.
For Those Who Don’t Have Access to Thick Bars
There is a great solution for those who don’t have access to thick bars and I think it is awesome. Believe it or not I actually saw someone in a gym using them before I even knew what they were used for. I just thought he was being a wuss because he didn’t want callous’ on his hands. I currently use them for just about everything. It really is amazing how durable they are. They are available over at FatGripz.com I don’t know if they are sold anywhere else. If you find out please let me know.
These Can Be Used on Almost Any Bar or Handle
The best thing about this device is that they fit on just about any kind of equipment with handles, not just Olympic bars. So if you want to increase your upper body strength and don’t have the right weights for thick bar training… I highly recommend using these. It’s pure genius??