This is my review of a unique weight training product named “Fat Gripz”
They are a pair of rubber compound grips that open so that you can fit them over a standard dumbbell handle or Olympic bar and thereby “convert” them to a thick grip handle.
I won’t go into much detail as to the benefits of thick grip training because those benefits can be found easily in books and on websites. Basically it allows you to train your grip (because the handle is harder to hold onto), include thumb strengthening while training, activate your forearm muscles more during each movement and somewhat change the dynamic of specific movements by positioning your wrist in a different fashion during the movement. For me the greatest benefit tends to be on pressing movements, I like the way that a thick grip usually allows more force to be applied to the bar by engaging my hand more effectively. It also seems to take pressure off of my wrist (as opposed to my wrist sliding around a bit on a thin handle) when the handle is not too thick. I most definitely do not do thick training all the time.., in fact I do it relatively rarely as I also like the convenience and feel of a 1″ or 1.25″ bar (the standard sizes for dumbbells or barbells).. but I do find that it has a benefit and it is usually just kind of fun!
The idea behind Fat Gripz is appealing. They are an easy way to convert standard diameter barbell or dumbbell handles to a thicker grip. You can throw them in your gym bag and know that you have the ability to convert any bar at the gym to a thick grip if you desire. You don’t have to purchase expensive (even though I have many pairs of 2″ and 2.5″ dumbbells and thick grip barbells… some of which I show below in the video) thick grip barbells or dumbbells, you simply convert any one that you come across.
So now that I detailed the intended purpose and functionality of these grips… how do they actually perform in action? Do they live up to their hype?
This is a pretty simple piece of equipment (you simply open up the handles, slide them on the barbell or dumbbell and perform your movement as you would with a thin handle), so my review is pretty short and straightforward.
I am not a big fan of them for their intended purpose of thick grip bar work, but I did find a use for them (that I am definitely a fan of) that they don’t even write about at all in their advertising.
I have two main issues with Fat Gripz as a way to do thick grip bar work:
1) They are a bit too thick (and as I demonstrate below become a quarter inch thicker than their stated diameter once you put them on the bar) for use in most movements. Their stated diameter is 2.25 inches but (as I show in the photos below) the inside diameter is too small and when you put them on a bar they open up a quarter inch and the grip that you are then able to use is 2.5 inches. This is a serious diameter grip. I have 2.5 inch dumbbells and barbells (I show the barbell along with others in the video below) but I don’t and wouldn’t use them for a lot of different movements. To me the perfect size for general thick grip training is 2 inches. It is thick enough that you are forced to engage your grip and forearms, but not so thick that it becomes unweildy. 2 inches is the thickness of the most popular thick grip barbells like Ironminds’ Appolon’s Axle. I have an Axle and it is a great thick bar. I just feel like 2.5 inches is a bit too thick (and thicker than the stated diameter) to use for general gym work… especially for those with less than large hands. Fat Gripz also makes an Extreme version that is stated at 2.75 inches and would thereby have a functional diameter of 3 inches. I have a 3 inch barbell (as I show in the video) but there aren’t a tremendous amount of different movements you can do with it.
2) Fat Gripz are squishy. I want to apply my full force to them but they squish inward. Now don’t mistake me.. I know that hard to grip items have a place in grip training (I am a big fan of sandbags and bags of coins etc.) but I don’t think they are as good when applied to a bar that you are trying to lift. If they were a bit harder I don’t think this would be a problem. The feeling isn’t terrible, but it isn’t good either. The funny thing about this issue is that it is also the reason why I think they have one solid use.. and that is in making holding a barbell more comfortable in the crux of your elbows when doing side lunges or zercher squats. I demonstrate using them for these exercises below. Both are really great exercises but with a standard size barbell they hurt a lot. In fact I wonder if they aren’t eventually (or even in the short term) doing some type of damage to the tendons and soft tissue at your bicep and forearms. It just is not pleasant to place a 1.25″ barbell in the crux of your forearm with heavy weight attached… but when you place the Fat Gripz around the bar (because they are thick enough and squishy) it makes it much more comfortable and I think will cause less potential issues in that area!
This is the Fat Gripz separate from the bar and it is 2.25″ in diameter
and 7.25 inches around.
When place around a standard gym dumbbell, it becomes 7.75 inches around
and thereby (I couldn’t hold the tape when directly on the dumbbell) 2.5 inches in diameter.
Ironmind’s Rolling Thunder Handle is 2.5 inches in diameter but isn’t meant for general gym lifting. It’s intended functionality is limited.
This video shows me applying the Fat Gripz to a fixed barbell and doing side lunges (great exercise!) I apologize for the music in the background.. I had no control over what the gym was playing 🙂 They definitely make the movement much more comfortable. I am not thinking about that soft tissue on the inside of my elbows.. I am thinking about my glutes and my eleveated heart rate 🙂
This video shows me using them for Zercher Squats. Once again a much more pleasant way to do them because the force is being more evenly distributed across the crux of my elbow and the softness of the material makes it more comfortable. I’m not sure why I am performing them at an angle… I think I didn’t place the grips at the right spots on the bar.
I just started training my calves this morning.. and after watching these videos it’s not a moment too soon 🙂
To help prove that I am very much pro thick bar training in general (and was just pointing out the limitations of this specific product in this review), I made a video of 4 of my custom made barbells that I had made in the late ’90s. You can’t buy these anywhere and they are real beasts! The biggest weighing 140lbs unloaded! A bit of rust on them.. but that just shows they have been around for awhile!
So in summation, I am not a fan of Fat Gripz for their intended use of converting standard size barbells and dumbbells to thick grip barbells and dumbbells (and then using them for general training). I can’t recommend them for that… but I am glad that I have them because (while they are only two movements and ones that I don’t do that frequently) they are a great and cheap way to make any type of “barbell held in the crux of your elbow” movement much more comfortable and make me want to do them more.
Score: 6.5 Black Cats (out of 10)
Best of luck in your training,