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Tag Archives: thick bar training

  • Polaroid of the Thick Bar with Weights Hanging by Shoelaces

    The Polaroid photo had a big thumb print in one corner. It had the weird rainbow-like oil slickbomb halo, but the dried blood really set it off. I finally had an image of the, “Chicken Killer.” This article is his short story, but also a great workout.

    I was going to title this article, “Making the Most of Your Thick Bar Training.” Like much of my writing, after starting with one idea another took hold, throttled me by the neck, did a Suplex, and after trying to fight it back, I relented and did a complete re-write. In this case, the offending concept was an old photo I remembered.

    Once in a great while, I’m given a story by a garage gym lifter that most people would write off as crazy. I know my neighbors put me in the “off-kilter” category and many of my customers get that moniker as well, but now I’m talking about a whole different level of nut case.

     

    Cleaning the Beast

    The photo showed “The Chicken Killer” doing a static hold with a thick piece of pipe, weights actually hanging by shoelaces. I’m guessing this was his sandy Texas backyard, with an old Trans Am parked behind him. He held the bar at his waist with a clean grip. I’m guessing it was 2” plumbing pipe, so the diameter would be 2 1/3 inches. I have no idea how much weight was hanging there, as it looked to have a mix of plates and a big gear. The pipe also had a dirty chunk of concrete cast around one end. I took equipment orders from “The Chicken Killer” about once a month. With each shipping quote I got a story. He got the thick bar grip work concept from me, as I had told him that Smitty trained Bill March with a 2” bar. The unbalanced details were his unique execution.

     

    The Bomb Tattoo

    As nutty as it sounds, he claimed to do cleans with that mess. Of course, that wasn’t without incident. One time he broke a shoelace, as he did a clean, the remaining items swinging wide. Catching the clean forward and wildly unbalanced, he partially tore his right biceps. He never went to the hospital. The accident was commemorated with a Wile E. Coyote-esqe bomb tattoo, lit fuse pointing to the lumped up muscle near the crook of his arm.

     

    Lessons & Good Workout

    I know, you’re wondering how this fine individual got to be called “The Chicken Killer”. He always paid in cash, sent through the US Mail and wrapped tightly in brown grocery bag paper. The random bills were very dirty and would have bloody finger prints and a stray feather, or two, stuck to the mass. The guy never straight out admitted to betting on cock fights, as he was clearly paranoid. He certainly hinted at it and the physical evidence was such that York’s Bookkeeper made me count his money, never touching it herself.

    Thick bar cleans are great for grip strength and help in your regular bar cleans and snatches. Aside from the obvious grip strength gained, there’s an interesting forearm benefit. Olympic style weightlifters talk about keeping the bar close in the pull position, which is obvious in bar end tracking videos and sequence photos, the tighter the resulting pull loop, the less need for a jump backwards. I talk about this in the Power Clean Clinic video. Unless you have exceptionally large hands, you will automatically flex the forearms when doing any thick bar clean. You’re doing this to get the hand under the bar during the explosive pull, because you can’t hook your thumb. This also necessitates the use of rotating bars, either barbell or dumbbell, because the resulting rotation changes from a clean “flip” to a reverse curl. It’s that reverse curl which sometimes turns into the torn biceps that are seen in Strongman Contests.*

     

    THICK BAR WORKOUT

    Warm-up: Stretching mixed with light Indian Club Swinging

    Hang Clean & Power Jerk: 5 x 5 (Light & Fast)

    Rotating Thick Barbell (or 2 Rotating Thick Dumbbells)

    Power Clean: 5 x 3 Barbell Back Squat: 5 x 5

    (Use a Safety Squat Bar if you have ANY recurring Shoulder Issues)

    Trap Bar Dead Lift: 5 x 2 (Heavy)

    Hanging Knee Raises 2 x 20 (Use Iron Boots if you still have any remaining grip strength.)

     

    Masters Age Lifters Take Special Note

    Many lifters have a slight forward lean with thick bar work. Your center of gravity will be slightly forward, until you get used to it. If your shoulders can handle it, do Presses with your Thick Bar Power Cleans. Many Masters age lifters won’t want to do this. The Back Squats and Trap Bar Deadlifts will counteract some of the forward leaning compensation, while the Safety Squat Bar will be additional help the shoulders. The Hanging Knee Raises will decompress the spine and shoulders while providing some abdominal work.

     

    All the best, Roger LaPointe

    *There was more going on with the incident that resulted in The Chicken Killer’s torn biceps. Unfortunately, I no longer have the photo. For all I know it could still be in my old desk at York Barbell.

  • Reason For Precision (Part 1): Dumbbell Bars

    “Hey man, weight is weight. I'm not lifting gold bricks here.”

    Milled Dumbbell Bar Comparison Photo
    Milled Dumbbell Bar with Black Oxide Comparison Shot with Old Non-Milled Standard Size Dumbbell Bar

    Variations on that theme are as common as love gone bad in a honky-tonk bar band. When it comes to fitness equipment it may even be an intelligent statement. For example, plate loaded leg presses don't need highly accurate weight. On the other hand, good dumbbell bars do make a difference.

    This Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin is the first in a series on the ins and outs of the garage gym dumbbell. I'm starting off with your dumbbell bars, because they can really be the foundation for a fully functioning garage gym.

    I believe that every gym needs some standard sized equipment. For the Doubting Thomas out there, who only believes in Olympic equipment, I would like to point out Pro-Style Dumbbells. That type of dumbbell uses standard sized plates, which simply means that the hole in the plates is designed for a one (1”) inch diameter bar. For the lifter who will not use standard sized plates, I will send you directly to the plate loaded Olympic Dumbbell Handle... go ahead, click that link... Now the rest of us can move on.

    The photo above shows an old, typical, standard size dumbbell bar (left side) in my collection. I have no idea of the age, but it has had a lot of use over the years. I believe I bought it from York Barbell twenty years ago. To the casual observer, it looks round, but it is not. In fact, it was never round. Unless your bars have been milled or turned round, like the one on the right, then that bar stock has flats and dings all over the place. That leads to the low tolerances that are required for most fitness equipment. For example, our Allen Collars are made of a high grade springy steel with a center hole that is drilled out to a one inch diameter. Some lifters will pry them open and force them onto a worn, low grade bar, because they never intend to remove them. But if you look closely at the photo, you will see a spot where someone really cranked down with a wrenchless screw collar and buggered the steel. Unless I took a file to that spot, there is no way an Allen Collar would slide over it. I would be stuck using a set screw collar or wrenchless screw collar, whether I liked it or not.

    Building Rotating Thick Handle Dumbbells

    If you have never used a rotating handle dumbbell, then you are in for a treat. Sure, you might think that you don't do cleans with your dumbbells, but I would ask how you get them to your shoulders for pressing. A rotating handle dumbbell is great, even for a basic dumbbell curl. It is easy to make your own, with parts you may already have. Using our Brass Thick Handle Adapter, a standard dumbbell bar, plates and collars, you can build your own.

    The question you have to ask yourself is, “How well do I want these dumbbells to rotate?” If you want them smooth and fast, then you simply can't use the old dumbbell bar (Photo-Left). In fact, you probably want to use a pair of Allen Collars on either side of the handle with a millimeter of clearance. Then butt your plates up to the Allen Collars and secure them with another collar on the outside. If you used good milled bars, then the handle should rotate nicely. We have those bars in both fifteen inch (15”) and twenty inch (20”) lengths. The eight inch length bars we sell are for the Iron Boots.

    All the best,

    Roger LaPointe

    "Today is a good day to lift."

  • Marines With Stones!

    The Marine Martial Arts Instructor Trainer division is one of the most intense group of guys you will ever find. When I met with them, for their equipment delivery and seminar on traditional strength

    Olympic Weightlifting Instructions with the Marines
    Marine Martial Arts Instructor Trainers Division - Traditional Strength Training Clinic

    training, I had no idea what to expect. I knew they wanted old school and I knew what they had already purchased.

    How intense are these guys? Well, they brought in their top guy, who summed up the Marine Martial Arts Instructor Trainer Division goal and definition. Marine Martial Arts were defined to me as all the fighting done when the Marine runs out of bullets. His gun is still in his hands and that will be his first choice weapon. Their goal: do any training that will extend his life even one second. Each second added up for 100 men is 100 seconds. That single small time increment can easily turn the tide of a battle and a won battle can win a war.

    So you ask, why did they choose Atomic Athletic? That is a fantastic question and one that I certainly considered. Their answer surprised me. It’s funny, but with their files, they knew more about me than I did!

    My seminar was very strange. It was as much brainstorming as it was training. I have to compliment them. They were the fastest learners I have ever met. Not just mentally, but they physically caught on faster than anyone I have ever seen.

    They wanted to see both the most advanced in free weight strength training and the most basic. They wanted different ideas on how to train individuals and how to train groups. They wanted fine details and basic concepts.

    Several ideas absolutely floored them. These guys were doing R & D for training the elite forces of our military’s trained killers and the concepts I grew up with floored them. This was exactly what they wanted because they felt that for too long there had been too much reliance on a bodybuilding mentality built around strength machines. It was time to go old school and do training that could be done in the middle of nowhere without a gym full of machines.

    Not the concepts.

    The Marines have been polishing their martial arts for over 200 years. I was not going to surprise them with a new concept. Everything is there in the historical record.

    It was the approach that floored the Marines.

    Marine Strongman Globe Dumbbell Curl
    Marine Martial Arts Instructor Trainers Division - Atomic Athletic Traditional Strength Training Clinic:Thick Handled Globe Dumbbell Curl

    I will get to that in later Bomb Proof Bulletins, but it is there in my Stone Lifting Wall Charts. Yes. The Marines are once again lifting stones.

    Get some ideas here: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/gym-art-charts/atomic-athletic-stone-sphere-instructional-chart-set-posters-1-2.html

    If you want to get the feel for real stone lifting, then you just might be someone who would enjoy the Atomic Athletic “A Gathering of Stone Lifters”. It is a new thing for us and unlike anything you have probably been a part of. It will be smaller than than our strongman picnics and should have a completely different feel. Check out the details at this link:

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/a-gathering-of-stone-lifters.html

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

    PS. If you enjoyed this Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin, make sure to re-sign up for it, as we are in the process of upgrading it. In a short time, this version will completely disappear and you will no longer get a bulletin, if you do not re-sign up. Here is the link: http://eepurl.com/AjKQz

  • Bull Moose Thick Bar Training

    Thick bar training is really becoming popular. Check out the photo of the Bull Moose Thick Bar we are selling, then check out this great little workout.

     http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/bull-moose-rotating-thick-bar.html

    Here is a very simple workout, but fantastic workout for your entire body, that will also fry your forearms and grip. All you need is a thick bar and plates, preferably they should be bumper plates.

     

    WORKOUT
    Warm-up with a little jogging and/or Indian Club swinging

    George Zottman: Grip Specialist
    George Zottman: Grip Specialist with his Thick Bar Equipment

    Thick Bar Hang Cleans 5 sets of 5

    Thick Bar Power Clean & Press 5 sets of 5

    Thick Bar High Pulls 3 sets of 3 (You should really be feel this in your forearms by now.)

    Thick Bar Deadlifts 5 sets of 2

    Thick Barbell Curls 3 sets of 10

    Roman Chair Sit-ups 5 sets of 10

    Stretch, especially the hands, wrists and forearms
    This will be sound very strange, but start your first hang cleans with just the empty bar. Add weight with every set and don't remove any weight until you get to the curls. You will have to make small jumps in weight as you are doing 18 sets. When you get to the deadlifts, use a conventional grip and you will be maxing out on that last set. It will really help to have a thick bar that rotates when you are doing the Olympic type movements.
    Here is the photo of our new Thick Grip Bar that will make you feel strong as a Bull Moose!
    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/bull-moose-rotating-thick-bar.html
    All the best,

    Roger LaPointe

    "Today is a good day to lift."

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