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Tag Archives: Olympic collars

  • 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.”

  • Make Your Own Farmers Walk Units

    Make Your Own Farmers Walk Units

    by Roger LaPointe

    Make Farmers Walk Units out of your Kettlebell Handles!

    Check out our adjustable Kettlebell Handles. Just hit this link .

    You can make Farmers Walk Units with our Kettlebell Handles. Chris Bostick Illustration: "Make your own Farmers Walk Units with Kettlebell Handles"
    • Kettlebell handles are extremely versatile. 
    Kettlebell handles are one of the most efficient tools for your training. With the slip of a collar, you make your adjustable dumbbells into kettlebells. With a few more changes, you can change them into Farmers Walk Handles.Our hulking beast of a strongman at the left enjoys the thrill of his one hand snatches with an adjustable kettlebell. He then moves on to his farmers walk exercises. That is a powerful 1 - 2 combination for your entire body.• Just follow along in the drawing. Here is your parts list.
    Start off with our Kettlebell Handles. They are made to fit one inch diameter adjustable dumbbell handles. That means you can get any piece of one inch diameter steel or pipe for your Farmers Walk Handles. Make sure you have two pieces that are the same length. Then get yourself a pile of one inch (Standard) size collars. I recommend 6 collars per handle.Oh yeah. Don't forget the plates. You will need a bunch of Standard size plates. The Olympic size plates won't work on a Standard size bar.

    • Arranging your pile of equipment. 
    Look further on down in this article and you will see the Atomic Athletic Farmers Walk Units . The dimensions of those pieces are so good that the Detroit Highland Games uses our Farmers Walk Units and they still have the World Record for 200 pounders.

    Of course, those are welded units that have been nicely ground down to become the ideal in competition equipment. Given that fact, there is nothing you can do about the collars and other parts that will brush against your thighs as you walk. These will still be pretty darn good.Make sure your bars, pipes or whatever you will be loading the plates on are long enough to give you some stride length between the plates. I like about 18-20 inches. Measure off the center of your bars and slide on your kettlebell handles . Anchor the handles down with a pair of collars on each side. Next, you will measure off about 6 inches and place your next collars. These will be the inside collars for your plates. Finally, you load on the plates and secure them with your last pair ofcollars .You could just use your standard dumbbell bars and do away with the extra four collars, but that will not allow you to have any stride length.
    Kettlebell Handles were made by many of the old barbell companies, but most people associate them with the York Barbell Company. Actor John Saxon loves his kettlebell handles. He picked up his first set after filming "Enter the Dragon" with Bruce Lee. Bruce kept a set with him while filming movies.

    Vic Boff's Bodybuilders Bible shows how to use adjustable Kettlebell Handles. 
    Vic's book is really all about functional training. It is almost entirely free weight based. The giant corporate fitness machine manufacturers have really messed up the strength training world. Vic used the term "bodybuilder" in such a broad sense that he even included full Olympic weightlifting in the book.

    The top photo in this sequence shows Brian Duncan, the World Record holder in the Farmers Walk.  The bottom photo shows Steve Weiner performing at the Association of Olde Time Barbell & Strongmen Dinner. • Grip training or full body training?
    There is a lot of argument out there about how to best do your grip training. Should you focus on your grip, or work your grip training into your full body routine? You really need to do both. The Farmers Walk is one of the best exercises you can do to incorporate the entire body in your grip work.• What's up with the BBs?
    By now, everyone should know the benefit of training with shot loaded equipment. Atomic Athletic has been selling shot loaded equipment for years. If you have never used shot loaded equipment, but would like a real in depth discussion on the subject, I highly recommend the Atomic Athletic Train Like A Strongman Volume 2 DVD .BBs in a Farmers Walk handle are a training tool which comes from a little different perspective than most strength athletes think about. Remember, this is functional training. You can add plates to these units, so the BBs are not really for the extra weight. They are there to teach your body technique. Neuromuscular reaction training is one of the great benefits of using any shot loaded tool. We have barbells,dumbbells and kettlebells that are also shot loading. Click on each of the green words to see the link.There really is a technique to getting the most distance out of your farmers walk. You want to walk evenly without any bouncing. Bouncing, or any other up and down movement while you are walking, will be hard on your joints and tire your grip super fast. If you are going for maximum distance, then you need to have your grip last until the last second, or until some other bodypart fails.• Dead Lifts with a Farmers Walk Handle are a great exercise.
    Similar to a trap bar deadlift, the Farmers Walk Handle deadlift gives you that biomechanically fantastic hand position that you have probably felt when deadlifting dumbbells. The difference is that you don't have dumbbell heads smashing into your legs. Unlike the trap bar deadlift, your body has to make all the small muscle corrections like with a dumbbell. It really is the best of both worlds.In the photo to the left, Steve Weiner uses the Atomic Athletic Farmers Walk Handles as part of his performance at the Association of Olde Time Barbell & Strongman Dinner of 2004. He did an insane version of a farmers walk with 250 pounds in each hand and 200 pounds hanging from his head. He walked about 15 feet.

    • If I want some Chris Bostick artwork, that I could frame, how would I get it?
    Chris is doing more and more illustration work for us at Atomic Athletic, so there is a good deal of it in existence. The diagram of the "Kettlebell Handle made into a Farmers Walk Unit" is just one example. Those are now available on some real retro looking comic book type paper (although actually a heavier weight paper). We also have the "Globe Dumbbell Press and Iron Boot Girl" Chris Bostick comic available. Each of them are FREE, as part of your related poster/wall chart order.

    • REMEMBER: A classic strongman needed to be good a lot of different strength feats. Your training tools need to be a versitile as possible. Farmers Walk Units are just one more thing you can do with your Kettlebell Handles. 

    Buy your Kettlebell Handles through this link.

    Live strong,
    Roger LaPointe

    PS Here is the link for our classic Kettlebell Handles:
    http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=KBC1

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