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Tag Archives: barbell collars

  • Manhandling Dumbbells

    strength mag bent press-A-w-text-logo Bent Press: Manhandling Dumbbells

    Let me tell you about one of the least graceful, ugly and horribly inefficient lifts you will ever perform. Before I get to that, I must also say that if you want to get truly real world strong, then you MUST be doing this lift.

    I call it Manhandling a Dumbbell. Technically, I guess you would call it a 2 Hand Single Dumbbell Clean. As you can see in the photo above, this lift was commonly done for the purpose of a “2 Hands Anyhow Lift” with either “2 Dumbbells” or a “Dumbbell & Kettlebell”. The key is that the heavier of the two items would be a dumbbell. Unlike a barbell, that could be cleaned or leveraged into the one hand, how do get the dumbbell into the bent press or jerk position? The rules actually allowed you to use just about any method to get it to the shoulder.

    The amount of weight that can be shouldered this way is quite significant. It is also fantastic to train this movement, because, like in stone lifting, you will find your weak points very quickly. I do have some tips, based primarily on the techniques I have learned from the “One Hand Dumbbell Swing”.

    Allen Collars for Barbells & Dumbbells Allen Collars for Barbells & Dumbbells

    “Manhandling a Dumbbell” Techniques

    1. Start the dumbbell on the floor, on end. Use as small a collar as possible without any extra bar end sticking out beyond the collar. I will use Allen Collars, just like when I set up a barbell to be leveraged.
    2. Don't bother with a hook grip, because you can wrap your other hand around the hand that is actually holding the dumbbell.
    3. For maximum control, the hand that actually grasps the dumbbell handle needs to be the one you will end with, as you will release the other hand as the dumbbell reaches the shoulder.

    “Manhandling a Dumbbell” Additional Tips

    -Don't bother using thick handles with this lift. This is not a grip training exercise, but one where you want to use as much weight as you can handle.
    -5 Sets of 2 Reps will be maximally productive.
    -Backweighting the dumbbell is fine, but make sure to practice backweighting techniques, as it can easily get away from you and become squirlly.
    -I like using larger plates. I sell a lot of our Long Dumbbell Bars for guys to really load up heavy. The reason I use that bar is NOT because of the large number of 10 Pound Standard Size Plates I can load up, but because I can determine where on the bar I am going to actually grab it. It is more important to have the dumbbell on end with an essentially flat end on the ground than it is to have it perfectly center balanced.

    Enjoy your manhandling exercise and be ready to find your weak points. I know that I have found myself doing a lot more ab work, one hand deadlifting, and dumbbell curls after adding this lift to my routine.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • The Bent Press: How to Leverage a Barbell

    Before you can do the classic old time strongman barbell lift called the Bent Press, you have to get it to your shoulder.  There are several ways this can be done, but the Leveraging the Barbell will move the most weight.

    4 Shot Sequence Photos of Barbell Leveraging

    Step 1: Lift Barbell On End

    It is best, if you don't have a classic globe type barbell, to put your plates all the way to the end of the bar.  You can use an Olympic barbell, but be prepared to jam it up permanently.  In the photos, I am using an antique standard size barbell with our Allen Collars on the ends.

    barbell-leverage-sequence-a

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Step 2: Find The Center

    Gravity is your friend here.  Find the center point, with palm facing your, like in a curl.  Let the barbell rock to the shouldered position as you drop into your squat.  The longer your barbell the easier this movement is.  Don't forget, your humble model is only 5'3".  Even I find a 7 foot barbell easier.  These are some great collars to use as inside collars.  With the plates all the way to the end, you effectively add "bar length".

    barbell-leverage-sequence-b

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Step 3: Drop and Squat

    After dropping under the bar, you simply stand up out of the squat.  It can be very helpful to use your shoulder to steady the bar.  This is something you can't really do with a barbell or kettlebell, simply because you don't have the bar length.

    barbell-leverage-sequence-c

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Step 4: Stand Up

    From this position, you are ready to do your bent press.

    barbell-leverage-sequence-d

  • Cheap & Easy

    “Cheap and easy” is rarely a good thing.

    “Cheap and easy” are the only two positive descriptive terms for spring collars. Because they are cheap, they seem to be the favorites of most gym owners. Clearly, it is not because they work well. This is how they work. When they actually fit on a barbell end, you merely have to squeeze them

    Standard Size Allen Collar & Short Dumbell Bar Set Standard Allen Collar & Short Dumbell Bars

    and they slide right on. The benefits end there.

    As you may have guessed, this Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin is about barbell and dumbbell collars. It's true, I am a little obsessive compulsive about the collars I use. Like many terms in this industry, it is easy to come up with innuendo, but I will try to keep things serious. Barbell and dumbbell collars have a genuine and serious purpose. They are meant to hold the plates on the end of your bar. Because of the ways barbells are used, relative to the ways dumbbells are used, I feel the issue is typically most serious for dumbbells.

    Two Types of Collars
    There are two types of collars: screw type collars and compression collars. Screw collars have what is called a set screw that is pressed into the bar end. Compression collars reduce the inside diameter of collar to hold the bar. There are several ways this can be accomplished.

    Spring Collars are a perfect example of a compression collar. Generally, I highly recommend a compression collar, except when it is a spring. Spring collars do not have a flat face, so your plates are always going to be floppy and loose. More than that, their springiness reduces over time and they eventually become so loose that they simply don't hold. Of course, that plays right into the other reason I hate them. I also dislike them from a business perspective. When I worked for York Barbell, we got them in loose shipments in giant wooden crates. I found that about thirty percent of them were so loose, right from the factory, that they had to be discarded. Someone had to stand there and try out every one, otherwise the customer would get bad collars. I really don't like spring collars.

    Spin-Lock Collars
    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/collars-olympic-2-spin-locks-from-york-barbell-pair.html

    I like Spin-Lock Collars. The spin-lock collars most people are familiar with are used on Olympic bar

    York Barbell Spin-Lock Olympic Collars

    ends, have wing nuts, weigh about 5 pounds each and are easily identified by the large “star” shaped part. I sell the ones made by York Canada. I had one customer pissed off at me because York USA shows a crappy Chinese version on their web site. The photo in this bulletin is of the ones we sell. Anyway, they are lined with leather and the wing nuts compress the collar onto the bar. The spinning star shaped end is threaded on the inside and used for tightening the plates down. In an ideal world, this is the very best type of collar to use. In fact, it is the only type of collar I will use on Olympic Dumbbell Handles, especially for lifts like Dumbbell Cleans, the One Hand Dumbbell Snatch and most importantly on the One Hand Dumbbell Swing. I don't want plates that are loose, flopping around, or worse yet, sliding off. Any of those scenarios smack of danger, if you pardon the pun.

    Allen Collars
    I also have some awesome Stainless Steel Standard Size Allen Type Spin-Lock Collars. These

    Stainless Steel Super Allen Collars Stainless Steel Super Allen Collars

    are over kill and I love them.  Each collar has a double set (that's 4, if you're counting) of allen screws.  So, not only do these spin-lock, but you can anchor the spin-lock with a pair of allen screws.  These are now my favorite for the One Hand Dumbbell Swing.  For that lift, I actually use a proto-type pair of pro-style dumbbell bars, with steel end plates.  The way I set it up is with the end plate on the end that is sitting on the ground, then the other end gets the collar.  I have an old, as in antique, knurled dumbbell handle like you would get with the old York Barbell Aristocrat Set.  This is my spacer for grip.  Then the collar tightens everything down, so there is no slop or rotation.  You can see the lift at this link:

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/long-dumbbell-bar-collars.html

    Regular Allen Collars
    Our regular Standard Size Allen Collars are significantly cheaper than the ones above, but they are also compression type collars that hold like crazy. I use these all the time. For standard size bars, they have become my “go to” collars when I am making up a dumbbell, odd-ball barbell, leverage/mace set-up, you name it. They are really narrow with a single allen type counter-sunk screw that actually closes the ring size of the collar. The allen screw is very low profile, so it does not seem to catch on your clothes, like wrenchless screws can.

    Little Allen Collar Story
    Our Standard Size Allen Collars are made in the USA out of real spring steel. Back in 2007, the price went up on these, so I tried out a knock-off version that was made in India. My analysis was “total crap”. I know, not very scientific, but they had the size off by a couple thousandths... too small. I figured, I would just pry them open, maybe the spring steel had compressed in shipping. Wrong. They just broke. End of the knock-off test. I went back to my trusted American made steel and good old American machine shop and raised the price. There really is no substitute. Lesson learned.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/collars-allen-collar-set-of-4.html

    Set Screw Collars
    We have many more collar types that fit into the set-screw category: Classic Red Wrenchless Screw Collars, Heavy Duty 3/4 Pound Wrenchless Screw Collars, Chrome Standard Barbell Collars, Olympic Allen Collars and many more.

    Once you use the right collars for the right job and then have to go to a buddy's place and use the wrong collars, you will suddenly understand the importance of getting it right. Use the right tool for the right job, or lift, as the case may be. Beware of “Cheap and Easy”.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

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