Fitness Tips

Cut The Fat, Use Fat-Grip Training

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Portable rubber grips are becoming a gym staple, especially in gyms like Gold’s Gym where weightlifters and bodybuilders gather as a community.  While there are many brands available, these are usually made of high-density compounds that can withstand extreme loads (i.e., little to no compression) when attached or clamped to pull-up bars, dumbbells, and cable attachments.  These double the thickness of the grip and, thus, increases the challenge of lifting weights.

Professional bodybuilders and weightlifters agree that these portable rubber grips are the open secret to improved muscle mass and strength, as well as being the true test of arm and grip strength. These grips are also more portable than taking your own fat-grip cables, especially when the gym you’re a member of doesn’t have thick bars on stock.

Reasons for Its Effectiveness

Fat-grip training significantly increases the physical demand placed on your hands and arms during your lifting sessions due to the increased thickness of the bar. With the larger grip, the amount of muscular force required in gripping the dumbbell or barbell’s handle increases. This results in greater mechanical tension in the primary muscles being worked out, as well as the secondary muscles in the kinetic chain.

A simple test will confirm the effectiveness of fat grips. Place your left hand on your right biceps – or vice-versa depending on which one is your dominant hand. Make a fist with your right hand – or left hand, as the case may be – but do it as fast and hard as possible. You will observe that the amount of contraction in your biceps are almost similar to the contraction in your hand.  The increased mechanical tension leads to better muscle strength and mass.

The increase in grip strength is also among the benefits of fat-grip training that, in turn, causes improved weightlifting performance.  When you have improved grip strength, your struggles with chin-ups and deadlifts may well be over, such as when you decrease your drop rate during deadlifts.  The stronger your grip, the more weight you can lift and the more you can bear down on the bar.

Tips for Effectiveness

But don’t just add fat grips to the bar either. Just as with all weightlifting accessories, these can be used the right way or the wrong way – and, of course, you want to use them the right way for maximum results. Here are a few tips that will achieve the desired results.

First, fat grips should only be one aspect of a balanced grip philosophy in weightlifting.  Keep in mind that these are accessories to weightlifting, not the best-kept secret to building Dorian Grey-like arm size and strength. As such, you have to consider several elements in your repertoire of grips instead of exclusively focusing on it.

You should also add crushing grip and open hand training to your program. Crushing grip training builds maximum strength so that you can enjoy an easier time on other tasks with gripping as a main component – and in the modern world, it included virtually all tasks. The exercises include farmers’ walks, rack holds, and grippers.

Open hand training refers to exercises wherein your hands cannot close fully around the bar or handle. Fat-grip training falls into this category but you must also add pinch grip training to the mix, both of which will increase your finger strength.

Don’t forget to add range of motion exercises, metabolic exercises, and endurance exercises to your strength training program. These promote muscle growth by subjecting it to metabolic stress, progressive overload, and range of motion.  These include wrist curls, reverse curls, and Zottman curls, as well as exercises requiring maximum effort lifts.

Second, aim for high reps because the forearms respond well to them.  You can achieve the so-called full look when your upper arms and forearms are subjected to prolonged times under mechanical tension and higher reps.

You can, for example, perform 3 sets of 8 reps of biceps curls on moderate weight without the fat grips followed by 3 sets to failure of biceps curls on lighter weight with fat grips. You’re basically subjecting your muscles to metabolic stress so that they are forced to become bigger and stronger.

Third, limit the number and period of heavy pulling exercises on your upper body. Unfortunately, the use of fat grips has its downside – these can cause the muscles and joints to be subjected to too much stress resulting in increased risk of injury.

Think of chin-ups with fat grips. Chin-ups demand a two-joint action on the forearms since the wrists curl and the elbows flex so the risk of injury is ever-present even without fat grips. When fat grips are used, the muscles in the forearm can be quickly overwhelmed by the added stress that, in turn, can result in muscle tears and cramps. There’s no denying that torn muscles in the forearm and elbow tendinitis aren’t a walk in the park, even when you’re in the best shape of your life.

Again, fat grips aren’t the be-all and end-all of safe and effective weight training. Standard bar work is still a must but you should follow it up with fat-grip training for better results.