Thin Dave and fat bar

27 10 2009

One of the themes I’ve always intended to post about here but have never gotten around to is my personal fitness quest. I’ve been training (i.e. weight lifting) since I was about 12, though there have been long periods (sometimes getting into years) when I’ve fallen off the wagon, both in terms of not exercising at all and eating like crap. As a result, my weight has fluctuated quite a lot, with a high of nearly 270 and a low of around 200 (I graduated from high school in fairly good shape at 190).

I’ve been pretty consistent with both my diet and exercise since April of this year. At the time, my weight had crept back up to 255. I’ve been holding steady in the 215-220 range for the past month or two, partially because a shoulder injury has interfered with my training, and partially because I thought it would be good to maintain a consistent weight for a while. I’m not actively trying to lose fat again, with the goal of getting down to 200 by the end of the year. Then, I’ll assess whether I want to continue working on losing fat or building muscle.

I’ll post more about what I’m doing in the future, but for now, I want to talk about what I did last night.

I’ve been working on improving my grip strength for a while. I’m a big believer in training with free weights, using big lifts, like squats and deadlifts. For the deadlift, which is by far my favorite exercise, the amount of weight I can lift far exceeds what my grip can support, so I have to resort to using straps. I’d prefer to not have to do this, so I’ve been doing various things to improve my grip.

One of the things I’ve wanted to try is using a fat bar. This is simply a bar that has a much larger diameter than the barbells you may be familiar with, as you can see below.

The thicker diameter requires you to grip harder, more rapidly improving your grip strength.

Unfortunately, the commercial gyms that I train at (because I’ve been unable to find a good underground gym) don’t have fat bars. In fact, the 24 Hour Fitness that I go to now actually has thinner bars than what I’m used to. But then I read an article suggesting that you just wrap a towel around the bar to get the same effect. Duh!

So last night I tried it, deadlifting 225 for 3 sets of 8 reps. I’d normally be able to to bang that out easily, but, as expected, the thicker bar made it a lot harder, and I was only able to get 6 reps on the last set before my grip failed.

I didn’t fully appreciate how hard this had hit my forearms until a few hours later, when the simple act of turning on my shower was almost too much to handle. It’s actually worse today, as I’m still weak, and the soreness has started to set in. My forearms haven’t been hit this hard in a long time, so I’ll definitely continue with this and see what kind of impact it has on my grip strength.

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2 responses

27 10 2009
Success Warrior

I have the same problem. My forearms give out way before my legs. I’ve heard of the towel thing but I have never tried it.

28 10 2009
myopicrhino

You should definitely give it a shot. My forearms are still weak and sore. Easily the best workout I’ve ever given them.

I also realized, with shock, that my gym has a glute ham raise station. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what it is. I’ve never seen one in person, and it’s not quite like the ones I’ve seen online, but functionally it seems to be the same thing. I’ve been wanting to do those for a long time too.

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