Fat Gripz a basic yet unique gym accessory that allows you to add thick bar training to your routine with an inexpensive and portable solution.
To experience thick bar training, you’d typically need to travel to a dedicated gym with an expansive range of equipment (you won’t find thick bars in your commercial gyms) or purchase one yourself for a home gym at quite a high cost.
Owning your own set of Fat Gripz allows you to utilize the benefit of thick bar training anywhere and this portable and versatile solution is definitely popular but do people take using it too far?
Just how often should you use Fat Gripz?
You should only use Fat Gripz for a maximum of 2 – 3 exercises per week with the aim of improving grip strength or muscle activation for the upper arms. Using Fat Gripz too frequently and on too many exercises will mean that you limit how much weight you can use and may impact muscle growth.
Adding Fat Gripz to a bar is a satisfying experience. You can feel how much harder you need to work and weights that were previously easy to lift are now more challenging. For this reason, it can be easy to get carried away and use Fat Gripz too frequently which could actually limit your progress.
In this article, I’ll cover how often you should use Fat Gripz based on your training priorities/goals and also cover what exercises best used to ensure you are getting the most from your thick bar training.
How Often Should You Use Fat Gripz
Fat Gripz is an alternative solution to thick bar training, or thick bars to be more precise. They attach universally to bars, dumbbells, cable attachments, machines, and just about any implement that resembles a bar that you grasp during resistance training.
It’s therefore a type of specialty training similar to how you might use chains or resistance bands for certain exercises to increase the training resistance or target a different resistance curve. You might use chains when deadlifting or on the bench press but this doesn’t mean you should use them for every exercise!
The same is true for thick bar training and the use of Fat Gripz. It can be easy to get excited by these small rubber accessories and start to use them on exercises when it’s not only unnecessary but can also have a negative impact.
Fat Gripz is an accessory and serves a purpose for increasing grip strength by making the muscles of the forearm and upper arm work harder, recruiting more motor units in the upper arm to stimulate more muscle growth, or reducing stress on the joints by providing a more even load distribution.
Each purpose will only be satisfied properly by a select number of exercises. Carrying a weight will tend to place less stress on a joint than pressing will for example and if you are going for a max lift on a deadlift, you don’t want to restrict the weight you use by making it harder to grab the bar.
You, therefore, only want to be using Fat Gripz for 2 – 3 specific exercises per week to ensure you are using them with intent rather than for no specific reason. You could stretch this to 4 – 5 exercises per week depending on personal goals but this would be pushing the limit for the reward/loss ratio.
Should You Use Fat Gripz Every Workout
Something you might be wondering is whether you can or should use Fat Gripz every workout. Getting some extra grip work and recruiting some extra motor units is likely to only be a benefit but the true answer is that it will depend on your particular routine.
Fat Gripz is an implement to use for upper body training primarily and you would see no benefit to using this for exercises dedicated to lower body training. If you run an upper/lower split, it would make no sense to ever use Fat Gripz on your lower body days.
Therefore, you should not look to use Fat Gripz every workout but only on the workouts and specific training days when it would make sense to do so. This would mostly be for arm-specific exercises, grip training with pulling exercises, or for reduced joint stress on pushing exercises.
To take this a step further, not only should you not use Fat Gripz every workout but you should only be using them for specific exercises within each individual workout.
What Exercises Are Best for Fat Gripz
When considering how frequently you should use Fat Gripz, it’s important to take into consideration what type of exercises you are doing and what your training goal is.
This is because Fat Gripz serves specific purposes and if you want to lift the heaviest weight possible for an exercise as an example, using Fat Gripz will limit this. Equally, if grip strength is a weak link for you, using Fat Gripz more frequently will be beneficial.
The following exercises are therefore those that are best for using with Fat Gripz and this will also dictate how often you should use them.
1. Bicep Curls
The number one exercise that people will want to use Fat Gripz for is bicep curls. Not just a standard barbell curl either but any variation of a curl. This can include:
- Dumbbell curls
- Hammer curls
- Reverse curls
- Cable curls
- Preacher curls
- Zottman curls
Basically, any curling exercise will see a benefit to using Fat Gripz on a regular basis.
The reason for this being that having to grip the bar harder just to hold it significantly increases bicep activation and recruits more motor units. Variety is key so while you can use it on any of the above exercises, I’m not saying to use it on all of them.
You want to find a balance between challenging your grip on one variation of a curl but then placing more focus on the weight lifted and contraction for another variation. Therefore, pick one or two curl variations and stick with these exercises only for Fat Gripz use for a few months before switching it up again.
You won’t find the same benefit for muscle activation during presses as you will when training the bicep specifically but using Fat Gripz on presses is recommended for another reason and that is reduced stress on the joints.
Grasping a standard bar does not fully distribute the load and the wrist and elbow joint can become aggravated over time. With Fat Gripz, however, you’ll find the load is distributed more evenly through the joints and forearm muscles allowing for a more comfortable, pain-free press.
The same can be applied to tricep exercises, especially those that you might feel elbow pain in like the close grip bench press, dip, or skull crusher. While there will be no benefit to performance, you should always look at longevity when training and joint-friendly alternatives should always be a priority.
3. Loaded Carries
Fat Gripz are mainly used to develop grip strength and increase activation in the forearm muscles. This has a tremendous carryover to other lifts (particularly deadlift and rows) where traditionally, your grip strength would be the weakest link.
For this reason, you should be using Fat Grips for loaded carries of holds for time. This will develop grip strength with heavier weights and help reduce the likelihood of your grip being such a weak link in your training.
Strength coaches also advocate the use of occasional Fat Gripz use on deadlifts. You’d have to significantly decrease the weight you use for this but if you can then build up your deadlift to a previous weight while using Fat Gripz, your overall strength will increase massively and grip strength will no longer be something that holds your lifts back.
4. Rows and/or Pulling Exercises
For most pulling exercises, your grip will give out before your back muscles and this is certainly true for heavy rows and deadlifts. Similar to the deadlift point above, you should look to also use Fat Gripz for the occasional pulling exercise.
The more you can progress the weight with a row as an example while using Fat Gripz, the stronger your grip and overall strength levels. It will also recruit more muscle fibers in secondary muscle groups like your biceps and forearms on these rows which will contribute to more overall muscle growth.
Fat Gripz is a great piece of manufacturing genius in my opinion because they take a challenging concept (training with a thick bar) and make it easily accessible to everyone at a relatively inexpensive price. I love concepts like this and own a wrist wrap that doubles as a lifting strap and it’s transformed my pulling exercises.
It can therefore be easy to get carried away when we get new “toys” like Fat Gripz and use them at unnecessary times. Using them a few times per week for the exercises listed above will give you some of the biggest bang for your buck and ensure you are not using them too frequently and negatively impacting your progress.
If you want more information on training with Fat Gripz, you should also check out:
Are Fat Gripz worth it