So after last week’s lengthy diatribe on co-activation, I figured I’d take it easy and use this week to start up a product review section. For those that follow the blog and my Twitter account, you’ll know that I’m stuck in a commercial gym, and have been my entire training life. While these places generally leave a lot to be desired, for the most part they’ve had the basic racks, barbells and dumbbells needed to get your strong on, but they usually lack the extras that show up in articles on t-nation, eliteFTS, etc… I’m sure like many of you, I’ve spent time dreaming of training in a smaller, hardcore gym, and loaded up a fictional shopping cart on eliteFTS of everything I’d put in a gym, but that isn’t always financially viable. Recently I’ve taken to just bringing my bars to the gym anyway, but I know that doesn’t make the ‘powers-that-be’ too happy, and for many of you, it probably isn’t an option. So for the first few reviews, I think I will try to find products that can be easily snuck into your gym, won’t break the bank, and will help you get the most out of your training.
Clip, grip and rip
When I started working out, I strapped in on more lifts than I should probably admit to. While I never got as far as strapping in on the bench press, I still lost some valuable, formative years of grip training. To make up for lost time, I’ve invested in numerous oversized bars, routinely do various chin/pull ups off of oversized bars, ditched straps all together and in the last little while have adopted these ‘Fat Gripz’ to other lifts when in the gym. And if you’re wondering, yes, I do die just a little on the inside every time I write grips with a ‘Z’.
At 2.25″ thick when clipped around a standard olympic bar and 5″ in length, these grips, made of a ‘proprietary high-performance compound’ (Read: probably just rubber), can turn any olympic bar into an oversized bar in 2 seconds flat. The advantages are obvious: more portable than an oversized thick bar, a fraction of the cost, and easily attached to chin/pull up bars as well as any olympic bar.
The main drawback to these is that you lose that solid bar feel you would have with a conventional or oversized bar. In order to be able to snap these on and off the bar, they obviously have to be able to open. As long as you position the opening on the grip appropriately they won’t slip off the bar (see above), but they still don’t feel as sturdy as a regular bar. The only other issue is that you can’t use a false grip with these as the grips will open and slip off the bar, and depending on the lift you might end up with a barbell where your teeth once were. I know most people aren’t a fan of false grip, however in a lame attempt to live my life on the edge I’ve experimented with it from time to time and do find it useful for chins if my forearms are feeling beat up.
If you can look past the sensational ad copy on their website, you’ll find a product that is actually useful around the gym. At the end of the day while nothing beats a TRUE oversized bar, these are one tenth the cost, more portable and will get you by in any gym. If you’re a fat bar connoisseur you’ll be better off putting the $30.00 towards a proper bar instead. Fortunately, I have one of these laying around the house as well.