Fat Bar Training Protocols: Part I

TAGS: advantages, fat gripz, harmon, fat bar, Elitefts Info Pages, training

When Dave Tate posted his question on Facebook regarding the newest Fat Bar and Fat Gripz products, he was trying to find out how people liked training with them. He expected some feedback, but he was blown away with the response. Dave wrote:

Was just asked what the advantages to the Fat Gripz & Fat Bars are. I will answer but was wondering what you all think?

25 responses were quickly logged within the day, people from around the world chimed in on how just by incorporating the products into their training sessions; it has literally made a world of difference. Strongmen, powerlifters, bodybuilders, athletes and the civil service community all made their voices heard…..quite simply, they got their asses kicked!

“Fat bars increase strength, and makes an Olympic bar feel like paper”

“Much easier on my elbow and shoulder joints....plus when I use the fat bars for pulling movements, my arms get a crazy pump...better than direct arm work.”

“They have gotten rid of elbow and shoulder pain for some of our lifters and have been helping everybody with their grip strength.”

“Just started using fat gripz yesterday, and it was like picking up weights for the first time again….”

Those with shoulder issues, like Dave, found the products to be able to alleviate the pressure put on the shoulder gertile without taking anything out of the exercise. So, lifters performing shrugs, presses, and the almighty pulls have benefited, but what about the physiology behind this? I had to investigate why incorporating fat bars while using pronated grips made this much difference, here are the facts.

Truth of the matter is that your thumb, fingers and wrist placement during training is a lot more important that you can imagine.

Muscles that contract and extend the fingers and thumbs are called flexors and extensors and all connect at the elbow. The flexors, coming from the thumb, continue past the elbow and connect to the same fascia as the brachialis. The brachialis is the muscle in the upper arm that flexes the elbow joint, belonging to the bicep family. Extensors then aid the biceps to bring your hand to a supine position also known as the brachioradialis.

Long story short- your elbow does a ton of work

With pronated movements- where your thumb is incredibly important to the path of the bar, such as cleans, front and side raises and upright rows- it forces your fingers to kick into overdrive just to hold the bar. In addition, the thumb has to push against your extensor muscles to squeeze your fingers. Hammer Curls require just as much attention, as the pronated grip is hyperactivated to contract. This is a true grip chain-reaction.

Supinated movements are also a tremendous benefit. The nervous system automatically contracts the brachialis when the thumb is flexed in the supinated position. As noted above, lifters remarked that they received an arm pump when fat bars took control of their thumb and finger position. The increase in neural activity has a greater impact of muscle fiber stimulation, in turn being able to target 100% of the muscle instead of fractions.

So, now that we understand the musculature of the forearm and the finger-thumb connection, we can now see that for lifters all over the board, the feedback was just as encouraging as the quotes above. Most reported a greater range of motion especially on bench press, but also the reduction in pressure of the elbows joints and shoulder relief.  All variations of rows got a facelift as well. The greatest benefit is that it isolates your lats more effectively and takes out the usual mandatory leverage of your forearms, biceps and triceps. It also deloads your joints, shoulders and elbows to train explosive force.

After being tested by some of the world’s elite athletes, I had to try the bar for myself.  I found that not only is the training legit, but so is the science behind it. By also being a “list person” I listed the top 5 pros and cons regarding Fat Bars:

PROS

1)     Unparalleled Grip Training and Benefits

2)     Deloading the Shoulders and Elbows

3)     Shoulder Stability

4)     Arm Pump

5)     Sports Strength & Conditioning Benefit

6)     Recruitment of Central Nervous System Stimulation

CONS

(0)

In conclusion, your hand size and grip training experience dictates mechanical leverage for weightlifters and powerlifters. An athlete competing in events such as cleans and snatches, as well as lifters performing deadlifts, saw a dramatic increase in overall leverage, in turn accelerating their training for these specific events.

Larger barbells allow for less surface area on the thumb to supply leverage to the fingers. As a result, athletes are able to reduce stress in joints, while also developing motor units and concepts. These directly translate into better performance without the usual unsuccessful transfer of skill while training. This theory highlighted above is the result of a motor learning concept called Post Tetanic Potentiation (PTP).

In the following Fat Bar series, I will investigate the benefits of implementing Fat Bars in various areas of Strength and Conditioning. Including warm-up cycles, pre-event training and personal stories from numerous coaches that have seen the benefit of Fat Bar training first hand.

Until then, check out our fat bars playlist:

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