Thick bar bench press

Ask or answer questions, discuss and express your views

Moderators: Ironman, Jungledoc, jethrof, stuward, parth

pdellorto
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 5252
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 8:43 am
Location: New Jersey
Contact:

Thick bar bench press

Post by pdellorto » Thu Oct 09, 2008 6:45 pm

I've been doing some fat bar benching at my gym. Once I did barbell pushups on the fat bar, too. It's got a 2" thick grip instead of the usual 1" thick grip.

I know thick bars are better for your grip. I know it makes pulling motions (chinups, rows, shrugs, etc.) it makes it harder because of the grip issue.

What does it do for you for pressing?


I know it's helping my pressing, and I actually find it easier to hold the bar properly and keep a good grip going. I like it but I don't really know the reason it's helping me the way it is.

Peter


User avatar
Rik-Blades
Associate Member
Associate Member
Posts: 458
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 1:47 pm
Location: Nottinghamshire U.K.

Post by Rik-Blades » Fri Oct 10, 2008 3:51 am

I'm thinking it makes for a straighter wrist (angle) with the thicker bar and the weight is transmitted straight down the arm, instead of the weight 'hanging' off the wrist at an angle with nothing underneath. With a thinner bar and heavy weights, the bar 'tries' to roll into the palm of the hand, instead of resting in the 'ball' of the hand where it should be. Simply puts the weight where it should be so forearm musles are not stressed incorrectly and makes for a better lift.

KPj
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 3482
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2006 5:49 am

Post by KPj » Fri Oct 10, 2008 4:15 am

Well, it's supposed to make it harder to hold onto.

I'll have a crack at why it's helping...

-Most of us have a forearm imbalance, with overacitve wrist flexors and weak extensors. Thick bar stuff enforces balance among the forearm muscles. Basically, it forces you to use more muscles. Maybe, this somehow made you're pressing more effecient, or something. I don't know really know where i'm going with this.

To explain where i'm coming from, my training partner had a long term hand injury. We got rid of the hand pain, but it re appeared in his forearm. I always thought it was his forearms that were the problem. All I can really spot is the imbalance mentioned here. When we do inverted rows using blast straps, his wrist actively flexes on the injured arm (the wrist curls). Maybe I look too much into these things. Anyway - add a couple of lynx grips in either hand, to thicken the bar, and this flexing stops happening.

Maybe, things just fall into place somehow when you use the thick bar and you make better use of the muscles. Yeh.. this ones a shot in the dark!


-If you've read many PL articles on benching, then you'll know that a common form cue is to "squeeze the bar". This helps to get and stay tight, which is essential for lifting a lot of weight. It's not just your hands you've to get tight - you're shoulders/upper back, abs, glutes, legs. Some people refer to 'force leakage'. Where a weak muscle somewhere in the kinetic chain basically allows force generated to 'leak out'. Dr Stuart McGill talks about this when he discusses 'super stiffness'.

When using a thick bar, you're much more inclined to really squeeze it. Maybe this just brushes up you're form, making you tighter and allowing you to lift more.

If so, then possibly the real test would be going back to a normal bar and keeping in mind to squeeze and see how it goes. Maybe you'll bench even more.

KPj

pdellorto
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 5252
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 8:43 am
Location: New Jersey
Contact:

Post by pdellorto » Fri Oct 10, 2008 8:32 am

I've found this article on thick bar pressing:

http://www.straighttothebar.com/2008/06 ... t_bar.html


I'm wondering if the "grip it tighter and you tighten up" isn't the main thing. I just find it more comfortable. But it would make sense if I'm tightening up further and thus pressing better.

The wider surface not drilling no hard into my palms helps, too. I bet a thick bar would feel nice on a squat, too - I wouldn't have all that weight crushing down into a less-than-1" line across my traps.


All I know is I'm matching my thin-bar PRs for 3RM with a fat bar and it's feeling better. It's hard to isolate what's doing that - I'm fat-bar benching, normal bar benching, DB benching for high reps, and doing pushups. I'm also getting stronger everywhere. I can't narrow it down to "I suddenly added fat bars and my bench went up."

KPj
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 3482
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2006 5:49 am

Post by KPj » Fri Oct 10, 2008 10:38 am

pdellorto wrote:I'm also getting stronger everywhere. I can't narrow it down to "I suddenly added fat bars and my bench went up."
I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes I can't sleep at night thinking about stuff like this.

Sometimes I feel like I really don't know what I thought I knew, ya know? Did the DB variation help my BP variation or was it because I got away from the bar for a while? I even have proof in the form of an expriment carried on just me, showing that Straight bar benching decreases my external rotator strength (bear in mind I have a screwy RC). But do I think that's accurate? It certainly looks like it. But no, not really. I don't know what to think about it.

What about dietary changes - I'm getting more carbs from veggies now and therefore more nutrients and i've upped my fat. Maybe that's why...

Hey, i'm getting on average an extra hour per nights sleep.... maybe that's why...

Was it THE change in rep range i.e. 2 reps instead of 3 that caused my strength gain. Or was it CHANGING rep range that caused my gains i.e. the adaptation.

All I know is, variety is the spice of strength (???). Training logs are very important. And,

One thing I just know is that you're numbers MUST be going up. Weight reps, or whatever - I don't care. If you're numbers aren't going up - change something!

If you're conventional DL at sets of 3 has stalled (you're numbers stopped going up) - then change something. Change to 5 reps. Change to Sumo's - whatever you change, I bet you're numbers go up! And this applies to assistance exercises too.

Obviously I'm just talking about intermediate level lifters. I wouldn't class myself as advanced yet - another few years then a whole new ball game!

KPj


jeffrerr
Associate Member
Associate Member
Posts: 451
Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2006 12:30 am
Location: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Post by jeffrerr » Fri Oct 10, 2008 10:47 am

I'm guessing that fat bar BP, Squat and to a lesser extent dead lifts wouldn't be advisable over a long period of time? I have a reinforced bar/pole at home I was going to turn into a make shift bar until I can afford a proper one, it's 2" pipe with a piec of box steel inside it, used to be part of a 4x4 bullbar. I was going to have old car stub axles I have laying around welded to the ends and use car wheels with different amounts of water in the tyres as weights and make up 1" handles for deadlifts, but I'm not sure how long I'd need to use it for so I don't want to 'overuse' the fat bar!

Any feedback on whether it has an adverse effect over a long period would be good!

pdellorto
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 5252
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 8:43 am
Location: New Jersey
Contact:

Post by pdellorto » Fri Oct 10, 2008 12:13 pm

Jeff - I have no idea. I know Brooks Kubik and Stuart McRobert love thick bar work and mention its benefits a lot. J.V. Askeem did too. I don't think there is a big problem doing it long-term if the bar is the right size. After all, what's so magical about a 1" thick barbell? Or those thicker kettlebell handles? Or a 2" barbell?

I just know that in pulling you'll get less weight so your grip will limit you more...based on that you might not want to exclusively work with thick bars. They have me mixing it up at DeFranco's - I do both thick bench and regular bench. My chinups are on a 1" bar, my dumbbell work is 1", but when I do cable rows and cable pulldowns I use a thicker handle.

KPj - yeah, exactly. I mean, it's not like I had my routine and I got a thick bar. I started training with a trainer, doing a more refined version of what I've done before, and got better access to equipment, a spotter, form check, etc. I've had more training time AND more rest. I'm doing all sorts of pulling/pushing/squatting, and eating plenty of food to go with it. I'm doing low-rep work mixed with hypertrophy work and endurance work. I'm stronger in everything. Is my thick bar work helping my bench press? I think so, but it's hard to figure out what is making the difference. Maybe none of them on their own would make a difference, but combined they do. It's hard to tell.

I'm really just wondering what the difference could be. As long as I'm getting stronger I'm happy...but the why is still fascinating to me. Don't forget I'm self-justifying my time at DeFranco's by saying "I'll get stronger and learn more than any college kinesiology/exercise science classes could teach me at the same time."

User avatar
Jungledoc
moderator
moderator
Posts: 7578
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2008 7:11 am
Location: Kudjip, Papua New Guinea

Post by Jungledoc » Fri Oct 10, 2008 7:09 pm

KPj wrote:
pdellorto wrote:I'm also getting stronger everywhere. I can't narrow it down to "I suddenly added fat bars and my bench went up."
I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes I can't sleep at night thinking about stuff like this.

Sometimes I feel like I really don't know what I thought I knew, ya know? Did the DB variation help my BP variation or was it because I got away from the bar for a while? I even have proof in the form of an expriment carried on just me, showing that Straight bar benching decreases my external rotator strength (bear in mind I have a screwy RC). But do I think that's accurate? It certainly looks like it. But no, not really. I don't know what to think about it.

What about dietary changes - I'm getting more carbs from veggies now and therefore more nutrients and i've upped my fat. Maybe that's why...

Hey, i'm getting on average an extra hour per nights sleep.... maybe that's why...

Was it THE change in rep range i.e. 2 reps instead of 3 that caused my strength gain. Or was it CHANGING rep range that caused my gains i.e. the adaptation.

All I know is, variety is the spice of strength (???). Training logs are very important. And,

One thing I just know is that you're numbers MUST be going up. Weight reps, or whatever - I don't care. If you're numbers aren't going up - change something!

If you're conventional DL at sets of 3 has stalled (you're numbers stopped going up) - then change something. Change to 5 reps. Change to Sumo's - whatever you change, I bet you're numbers go up! And this applies to assistance exercises too.

Obviously I'm just talking about intermediate level lifters. I wouldn't class myself as advanced yet - another few years then a whole new ball game!

KPj
Did I hear someone mention overcomplicating things? :lol: :lol:

Blue Running Man
Novice
Novice
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:35 pm

Post by Blue Running Man » Fri Oct 10, 2008 11:10 pm

KPj wrote:
pdellorto wrote:I'm also getting stronger everywhere. I can't narrow it down to "I suddenly added fat bars and my bench went up."
I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes I can't sleep at night thinking about stuff like this.

Sometimes I feel like I really don't know what I thought I knew, ya know? Did the DB variation help my BP variation or was it because I got away from the bar for a while? I even have proof in the form of an expriment carried on just me, showing that Straight bar benching decreases my external rotator strength (bear in mind I have a screwy RC). But do I think that's accurate? It certainly looks like it. But no, not really. I don't know what to think about it.

What about dietary changes - I'm getting more carbs from veggies now and therefore more nutrients and i've upped my fat. Maybe that's why...

Hey, i'm getting on average an extra hour per nights sleep.... maybe that's why...

Was it THE change in rep range i.e. 2 reps instead of 3 that caused my strength gain. Or was it CHANGING rep range that caused my gains i.e. the adaptation.

All I know is, variety is the spice of strength (???). Training logs are very important. And,

One thing I just know is that you're numbers MUST be going up. Weight reps, or whatever - I don't care. If you're numbers aren't going up - change something!

If you're conventional DL at sets of 3 has stalled (you're numbers stopped going up) - then change something. Change to 5 reps. Change to Sumo's - whatever you change, I bet you're numbers go up! And this applies to assistance exercises too.

Obviously I'm just talking about intermediate level lifters. I wouldn't class myself as advanced yet - another few years then a whole new ball game!

KPj
I feel like I wrote this! :eek:


:grin:

airhog
Novice
Novice
Posts: 60
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 12:43 pm

Post by airhog » Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:00 pm

I tried gripping the bar as tight as possible last I was in the gym, and I saw a remarkable different in my benchpress. My wrists felt right, and I was actually able to press the weight a bit easier.

Matt Z
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 4505
Joined: Tue Apr 25, 2006 1:19 pm
Location: Pennsylvania
Contact:

Post by Matt Z » Mon Oct 13, 2008 3:05 pm

I've noticed that when I use a thicker bar, my hands have less of a tendancy to slide apart.

pdellorto
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 5252
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 8:43 am
Location: New Jersey
Contact:

Post by pdellorto » Tue Nov 04, 2008 2:11 pm

Just for more feedback on this:

- I found when I do barbell pushups, the thick bar is easier than the normal bar. It's just much easier to get the reps and hold the bar in place against the supports.

- thick bar curls are amazingly hard. I can curl a lot more with dumbbells or a normal 1" bar, but 2" fat bar curls were really hard.

Like I said, just some more information. I do like the feel of the thick bar. Feels like more serious training. :grin:

Peter

pdellorto
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 5252
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 8:43 am
Location: New Jersey
Contact:

Post by pdellorto » Thu Dec 18, 2008 6:56 pm

daniel4738 wrote:
pdellorto wrote:12/1/08

2" Bar Bench Press: 4 x 165#

Not quite at a bodyweight single, but I'm getting close.
Is there a big difference between using the two bars?
TheHeb wrote:I think once I read that Peter uses them to train his grip. I'm not sure exactly what effect they would have on bench other than making them really hard. Here's a link:

http://www.gripfaq.com/Supporting_Hand_ ... Thick-Bar/
To answer a question asked in the Personal Best thread:

I'm not sure if thick bar bench presses are harder or not. The more I do them, the more I think they make me grip the bar harder and so it's easier for me to recruit muscle and stay stiff.

On the other hand, it's twice as thick. Anytime your grip stamina is an issue benching, it's got to adding to the difficulty.

Someone posted a nice link in that thread about thick bars:

http://www.gripfaq.com/Supporting_Hand_ ... Thick-Bar/

KPj
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 3482
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2006 5:49 am

Post by KPj » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:24 am

pdellorto wrote:
I'm not sure if thick bar bench presses are harder or not. The more I do them, the more I think they make me grip the bar harder and so it's easier for me to recruit muscle and stay stiff.
I think this makes sense. Some people can bench more with a close grip (i used to). This wasn't because my chest was weak and my tri's were stronger. It was because with the elbows tucked more it was easier and more natural to stay tight (especialy shoulder blades), especially going from eccentric to concentric, and trying to get that blast off the chest.

The 'staying tight' issue was evident because with normal benching, when trying starting the concentric part, my head would move further up the bench, showing that my shoulder blades were hiking up, and therefore, losing tightness. This didn't happen with close grip benching.

So whilst at one time, for me, close grip bench press felt easier than normal grip, actually, that wasn' t the case. It was a flaw in my form and a weakness in my "middle back"....

KPj

pdellorto
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 5252
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 8:43 am
Location: New Jersey
Contact:

Post by pdellorto » Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:35 am

Over on Performance Menu, someone asked about grip training and fat bars. Another poster linked to this interesting article about fat bar training:

http://definingedge.blogspot.com/2008/0 ... -bars.html

I figured you guys would want to see it. I'm a little leery of that 12% number, it seems a little precise. But my bench press may be too low (sub-200 1RM) to really notice the difference. I'd love to try a fat bar DL once I get my spine back into proper shape. :D


Post Reply