If you’re in the gym long enough, you’re bound to see someone using a colorful piece of rubber wrapped around a barbell or dumbbell. Sure, it might be funny watching guys and girls using something that makes them look like they have baby hands, but that colorful barbell accessory is actually a piece of useful fitness equipment.
Thick grips: the name tells you everything you need to know. By increasing the size of the barbell or dumbbell that you have to hold on to, thick grips provide a variety of benefits. Let’s take a look at the benefits of thick grip training, how you can use thick grips during your workouts, and tips for maximizing your results.
Benefits of Thick Grip Training
Before we tell you how to use them, let’s talk about why you should own a pair of thick grips – also called Alpha Grips.
Grip Strength: If there’s one area of physical performance that gets neglected by most weightlifters, it’s grip strength. If you find that your hands are letting go of the weight and you aren’t activating the working muscle such as chest or back, then you need to start focusing on improving your grip strength. A strong grip allows you to lift more weight and hold it for a longer period of time. This means more repetitions, more sets, and better results.
Bigger Arms, Especially Forearms: Everyone loves arms day, but too many people skip right over their forearms in favor of the biceps and triceps. While thick grips can help to increase the overall size of your arms, you’ll see your biggest gains in the forearms. Aesthetically, no one like T-Rex arms; it’s the equivalent of big thighs and small calves. Lucky for you, thick grips can help your forearms to grow, giving you a more balanced muscular physique.
Reduce Risk of Injury: The hand, wrist, forearm, and elbow are your literal anchor during most exercises. Given their importance, the last thing you want is wrist pain or strain as it will disrupt your workouts. Using thick grips during your workouts can help to strengthen this chain and reduce your risk for injury. Just be sure to stretch! If you currently have achy wrists, consider using wrist wraps.
Convenience: The benefits of thick bar training have been well-established, but not everyone has access to a set of thick bars. Hell, most gyms don’t have them. Thick grips are the next best thing. All you have to do is throw them in your gym bag, and you bring the benefits of thick bar training with you.
How to Use Thick Grips During Your Workout
Now that you’re convinced you need to add a pair of Alpha Grips to your fitness equipment collection, let’s breakdown how to use them:
- Select an appropriate barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell.
- Take your selected size of Alpha Grips and wrap each one around one of the dumbbells or kettlebells.
- Using a barbell? Wrap the grip around where your hand placement will go.
- Squeeze the thick grip, securing a firm hold.
- Complete the exercise as normal.
That’s it! All you have to do is remember to bring them to the gym.
Exercises to Use with Thick Grips
Here are a set of exercises that work very well with thick grips:
- Wrist curls
- Zottman curls
- Reverse curls
- Hanging holds
- Sumo squats
- Elevated split squats
- Rack holds
- Farmer's walks
Tips for Maximizing Thick Grip Training
If you’ve never used thick grips before, here are a few tips on how to maximize safety and results while minimizing troubleshooting issues.
Use Lighter Weights: Due to a wider grip, you’ll notice that you might not be able to use the same weight load. That’s okay! For any exercise where you use thick grips, we highly recommend lightening the weight load and performing more repetitions. Also, move slower to maximize the time under tension and hypertrophy-based benefits.
Avoid During Heavy Lifts: Continuing with the point above, as useful as thick grips can be for arm size and strength, we would not recommend using them during heavy-focused compound lifts. For example, if you’re trying to set a new personal best for the bench press, focus on your normal stance and set-up for the bench press.
Go for Broke: Finishing up with the other two points, you may want to consider using thick grips for burnout sets or exercises where high repetitions and reaching muscle failure is key. For example, you could save the thick grips for a failure set of bicep curls, triceps extensions, rows, or farmer’s carry.
Don’t Forget to Stretch Your Forearms: Finally, using thick grips is going to be a different type of stress and strain on the wrist, forearms, and elbow. It’s essential that you stretch before and after each and every workout when you use thick grips. While thick grips can reduce the risk of injury by strengthening these areas, if you continue to work the muscle without proper recovery and stretching, you can cause the opposite to happen.
Do You Use Thick Grips During Your Workouts?
If so, what benefits have you noticed? Do you have questions about how to incorporate thick grips into your routine? Let us know on our Facebook.