Thick bar training has always been something that strength coaches and bodybuilders have been known to implement in order to improve grip strength, reduce tension around the joints, and recruit more muscle fibers in the upper arms.
Thick bars are not a common piece of gym equipment though and you are very unlikely to find them in many commercial gyms or even dedicated “hardcore” gyms. This has meant that thick bar training has been inaccessible for most people for a long time.
That is until a portable, rubber invention came along to shake up the think bar training industry. Fat Gripz is a relatively inexpensive gym accessory that allows you to create a thick bar with ease for both barbells, dumbbells, and even machines.
While Fat Gripz is the industry leader when it comes to thick bar attachments, many people wonder are they actually worth it, and will you see any benefit from owning a pair?
Are Fat Gripz Worth It
For anyone that wants to implement thick bar training, Fat Gripz offers an excellent solution. They are an inexpensive and portable way to add thick bar training to your routine allowing you to increase your grip strength and recruit more muscle fibers in the upper arm (which leads to more growth).
Before carrying on with this article, I just want to say straight away that Fat Gripz are 100% worth it in my opinion. They offer an incredibly convenient solution to thick bar training, especially in commercial or home gyms, and as a brand, Fat Gripz certainly leads the way in terms of product quality.
If you’ve heard of Fat Gripz before but are not quite sure what they are I’ll give a quick overview. Fat Gripz comes with the tagline “the ultimate arm builder” because their design allows you to implement thick bar training without needing an actually thick bar.
These palm-sized accessories are made from a flexible and durable military grade, heavy-duty compound that is similar to rubber and is designed to fit around almost any weight training implement that you typically grip.
This includes Olympic and standard barbells and dumbbells, kettlebells, dip bars, pull up bars, smith machine, plate loaded machines, cable handles, and just about everything else in between.
Fat Gripz are available in three sizes:
- Fat Gripz One – 1.75” diameter on the outside
- Fat Gripz – 2.25” diameter on the outside (standard and most popular set)
- Fat Gripz Extreme – 2.75” diameter on the outside
While there are other options for thick bar attachments on the market, Fat Gripz is the market leader with patented features and while Beast Grips and Iron Bull Grips are worth looking into, Fat Gripz is really the go-to option if you are looking to add thick bar training into your routine.
This short video below shows exactly how Fat Gripz work and the simplicity should not be underestimated, some of the top physiques and athletes in the world use these to develop grip strength and grow their arms.
What Are the Benefits of Fat Gripz
Now that you’ve got a better idea of what Fat Gripz are, I’m going to cover some of the benefits to demonstrate whether or not they are worth it. Don’t worry, I’ll also point out some potential issues later on as I’m not saying they are an essential product!
1. Bigger Arms
Probably the number one reason most people use Fat Gripz is to stimulate more muscle growth. I’m not saying that’s the number one benefit but for the majority of people buying these, it’s because of the claims that you’ll get bigger arms using them.
And who doesn’t want bigger arms really?
Research does show that thick grip training recruits more motor units in the forearms and bicep muscles and recruiting more motor units (muscle fibers) results in a greater opportunity to stimulate and fatigue them which ultimately leads to more muscle growth.
It’s not the case that suddenly using thick bar training will add inches to your arms but any time you can recruit more muscle fibers, you substantially increase the potential for muscle growth. Having to use stabilizing muscles to grip the bar with Fat Gripz improves muscle activation which in turn leads to more muscle growth.
2. Stronger Grip
The human grip is one of the most powerful and neurologically primed advantages of the human body. My favorite test to demonstrate grip strength is to do the following task:
Take your right hand and place it around your left forearm and grip it (pick an area not too close to the wrist but close enough to wrap your fingers around. Now squeeze it with some moderate tension until you can feel the strength of your grip. Try to do this on the fatty/muscular part of your forearm. Make a mental note of how hard you could grip.
Now repeat this again but while squeezing, also contract and squeeze your glutes. You should notice your grip becomes firmer and more powerful. Quite impressive right?
Now, repeat steps 1 and 2 again gripping your forearm, squeeing, and also tensing your glutes but now also tense your abs at the same time. For the final time, you should again feel that your grip becomes more powerful.
This can also be done by shaking someone’s hand to test it but the neuromuscular connections of the human body mean that we have a naturally strong grip.
When something like a standard bar is placed in our psalm, we naturally grasp it and this is why it’s easy to lift heavy weights from the floor yet large appliances (fridges, washing machines) with no easy area to grip are difficult to lift despite being lighter than what you might deadlift.
Fat Gripz eliminates this by training the muscles that contribute to your grip (forearms and elbow flexors) to strengthen it. The grip is often the weak link in compound movements like deadlifts and rows with many people resorting to straps to help out.
Strengthing your weak link will therefore have a greater carryover to your big lifts.
3. Reduced Stress on the Joints
A wider grip is much easier on the wrist and elbow joints because it more evenly distributes the weight and tension. Thick grip training is a joint friendly technique heavily favored by those with any kind of elbow tendonitis.
If you suffer from elbow pain during tricep exercises, for example, the better weight distribution for using Fat Gripz will reduce tension and stress on the elbow joint for a more comfortable set of tricep extensions or pushdowns.
4. Inexpensive Thick Grip Alternative
Getting a think bar for your home gym or trying to find a local gym that has one already is going to either be a difficult thing to source or an expensive option. A standard Olympic barbell alone can be quite pricey and when it comes to specialized bars (which a thick bar is) the cost can go up substantially).
Fat Gripz, as the manufacturers like to point out, cost as little as a tub of protein and due to their heavy-duty construction, they will last a lifetime of training.
These lightweight and portable options make thick bar training a viable option for everyone and if you are serious about making progress in the gym, these grips should be an essential item alongside your lifting belts and wraps.
What Are the Drawbacks of Fat Gripz
While Fat Gripz are an excellent tool that you can use and easily fit them in your gym bag, they are not without some drawback.
You can achieve the same effect of thick bar training by using some towels and wrapping them around the bar several times. This increases the diameter of the bar when you grip it and it’s something that you already own.
You won’t see many people using towels to do thick bar training and it would definitely look a little strange in the gym whilst also being no way near as convenient as Fat Gripz but they are a cheaper alternative. There are also cheaper alternatives if you wanted to test something a bit cheaper.
2. Lift Less Weight
Fat Gripz can make your grip stronger but when using them, you can not lift as much weight. There is therefore some tradeoff between maximum motor unit recruitment when using Fat Gripz but at the expense of needing to lower the weight.
This can be particularly troublesome when training with heavy rows or deadlifts as your grip will hold you back from lifting the weights that your larger back muscles can handle.
Fat Gripz are therefore recommended for use on all exercises but really, the benefit will only come from using them on bodyweight exercises like dips and pull ups and isolation exercises where your grip strength is not a factor in the weight lifted.
Fat Gripz is not the revolutionary technology that they are often made out to be and using them won’t suddenly blow up your arms in a few weeks. There is definitely some hype that surrounds Fat Gripz but they are not essential.
They are however worth it for the money. If you wanted to do think bar training you’d either need to find somewhere with a thick bar already or invest in one (and they are not cheap!). Fat Gripz offers an inexpensive and versatile solution to allows anyone to take advantage of thick bar training.
You can develop your grip strength, enhance arm size, stimulate stronger muscular contractions, and get stronger all around. For the benefits that come with Fat Gripz, they are definitely worth it.
If you want to check them out yourself, you can find them on Amazon here.