Saturday, June 28, 2008

Your Questions Answers about Thick Bars

Thick bars benefit everyone but particularly anyone you want to increase strength in or overcome a strength plateau.

Using a thick bar affects strength by about 12% but you get great gains. Meaning if you bench press 200 with a regular bar, 185 will feel as hard as 200 lbs with a thick bar.

At the PPC we used ALL thick bar DB's exclusively, thick bar EZ curl bars exclusively and had options for thick bar chinups (Poliquin Atltantis brand squat rack), thick bar attachments for cables and many thicknesses of thick barbells.

You do not want to use them for squats / front squats or leg movements at all except for thick bar deadlifts (which affect your strength by as much as 50%... for smaller hand people / women even more). For example, I pull about 275-300 in the deadlift and could barely get to 100 lbs with the tick bar... and my forearms were TRASHED for days. It was awesome.

You would also not use them for Olympic lifts such as cleans, snatches, and we did not use them for Snatch grip deadlifts but you certain could. Grip on the deadlifts are double overhand of course.

We used the thick bar EZ curl for "scull crushers", curls, overhand curls I had experience in my training programs (and my clients) using thick bar for bench press (also with chains or weight releasers added), close grip bench, overhead press, decline bench press (slight decline only... 10 to 20 degree).

Stick to rep ranges for strength (ie relative strength parameters) or hypertrophy (functional hypertrophy or hypertrophy parameters) but simply substitute thick bar implements. Be careful at first as the forearms, particularly extensors really take a hit. It can cause problems.

So for someone new, implement one or two thick implements at a time. Perhaps a thick bar bench press and maybe thick bar chins or pullups on another day (you can use Tyler Grips... google them if you do not have a thick chinup bar... ).

At the PPC we started with just having new clients get used to the thick DB's ... they are amazing. Or you may add TYler Grips to all your DB work for a phase. Then implement one or two other thick bar options in the training program Phase 2 and so on. You will get carry over to your lifts.

However, I do not do TOO much thick bar bench pressing with powerlifters. When I went back to a competition bar it initially affected me in negative ways. I felt like I was gripping a twig. It took me a good 3 workouts to feel "normal" again and it did affect my stability. However it was worth it as my raw bench press had increased by about 5 to 10%. So you must consider the transition time - including thick bar world duing a lengthly off season would be wise for powerlifters.

Don't change too many variables... Simple works best longest.

I would rather go from a regular bench press to a thick bar press, then an incline press with thick bar (10 degree) in 3 phases than take jump from regular bench press to a thick bar 10 degree incline press. Depends on the person too, but that is a general rule of thumb.


F D wrote:

Hello, Krista. I was having a discussion about thick bar training with a gentleman at my gym today and when I got home, my girlfriend, who is an avid reader of your articles on , suggested that I contact you and ask for your take on the following questions.

I'd appreciate your input on as few or as many of these questions as you see fit and have time to answer, but I definitely understand if you're too busy to reply to this message.

Do you have any "rules",guidelines, and/or do's and don'ts when it comes to deciding when to replace more traditional diameter bars, dumbbells, and cable attachments(1 and 1/16", 1 and 3/8", for example) with ones of 2" diameter or greater?

Would you recommend regular usage of thick bars for athletes more so than bodybuilders or would they potentially benefit both groups equally? Are there movement patterns from the following list(elbow flexion, elbow extension, horizontal pressing and pulling, vertical pressing and pulling, hip dominant movements such as conventional and snatch-grip deadlifts, humeral abduction, etc.) that you'd use them on for maximum benefits and others that you'd avoid using them for ?

I've been especially curious as to how the main goal of a given training phase, such as strength or hypertrophy, might affect the choice of bar diameter used. And lastly, do you consider bar diameter enough of a change when switching exercises after, say 3-4 weeks, or do you think another exercise variable such as grip positioning angle should be slightly altered as well.......i.e. a 10-degree incline press with a regular bar swapped out for a 2" diameter bar 10-degree incline press in a subsequent phase versus a 10-degree incline press with a regular bar swapped out for a 2"-diameter bar 30-degree incline press in a subsequent phase.

I would greatly appreciate any information that you would be kind enough to share on these topics and thank you for your time.


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