Equipment Review: Instant Fat Bar Handles
Instant Thick Bar Handles
Tyler Grips, Fat Gripz, and Grip4orce Handles
I am often asked if I have ever tried out certain equipment. One type of equipment that I am asked about quite a bit are the instant fat bar handles that are on the market. I know of three types of instant thick bar handles that go right onto dumbbells, barbells, and other items. They are Tyler Grips, Fat Gripz, and Grip4orce Handles.
If improving Grip Strength is one of your goals this year, then these pieces of equipment can help you, but what I want to do with this post and video is to help guide you toward the right piece of equipment.
After all, stuff you buy is not going to do you any good if all you are going to do is get tired of it after a few uses and then just cast it to the side.
To that end, the first thing I did was I uploaded a video to YouTube covering all three styles of instant thick bar handles, but there are a few more things I’d like to add so I figured I would post the video I did here and I would add the other things below.
In addition to the video above, I want to go into some additional detail for you, so I have put together a quick summary of each piece as well as a detailed rundown of my experience with each tool.
Quick Summary of the Instant Fat Handles
Go on/off quickly
No print on body to aid in grip
Fit most dumbbells and barbells
Tapered design feels strange in hand
Tapered design does not match design of actual feat handles
Rubber somewhat less dense and gives a bit
Will not go fully onto a kettlebell handle
Go on/off quickly
Fit most dumbbells and barbells
Dense rubber doesn’t give much – very solid
Print on body of handle aids in grip
Will not go fully onto a kettlebell handle
Go on/off quickly
Increased thumb activity over other similar devices
Solid build and structure – does not give or buckle during movements
Fits most dumbbells and barbells
Best option if wanting to use with kettlebells
Comes in two strength levels (Regular & Stiff) for progression and different levels of grip development
May feel strange to new users and put them off
Grip not quite as wide/thick as Fat Gripz
Heavily textured – may aid in lifting during pulling movements
Detailed Assessment of Each ToolTyler Grips
The very first type of instant thick bar handle that I learned about was Tyler Grips. If I remember correctly, Tyler was the name of the son in the father and son combo that owned the company and marketed these grips. I think I first got a set of them back in 2006 or 2007,maybe 2008. I remember being really excited to try them out because at the time, and still to this day, Fat Bar was one of my weak points in contests, so I was eager to put them into action.
When I got them here though, I was puzzled. Tyler Grips are cone-shaped, meaning they taper from wide to narrow. Conversely, all of the thick bar dumbbells and barbells used in Grip and Strongman competition are a consistent width from end to end, with the exception of anvil horns which are rarely used in competition.
I was looking forward to using the Tyler Grips handles for things such as Dumbbell and Barbell Curls, Rows, Cleans, etc. in order to force my hands to train in a more open position and thus increase the challenge level of the handles. Unfortunately, because of the tapered, cone-shaped design of the Tyler Grips, it became very hard to do this. The only way I could grip a dumbbell and perform Side Rows with the Tyler Grips handle on there was to have my index finger wrapped around the narrow side and my pinky wrapped around the wider side, which made about as much sense as using a lifting strap on my row…
Frustration with the design set in and I eventually tossed the Tyler Grips to the side and they collected dust for years, except to show others when they visited.
Fat Gripz came a long a year or two after the Tyler Grips and I did not buy them at first, simply because I already had so many thick bar implements to use at that time. Once I finally got my hands on them, I came to realize why they are such a great product.
What I failed to realize at first is that most people do not want to have to buy a bunch of equipment in order to be able to train for open handed strength. They don’t want to have to buy a bunch of different thick bar dumbbells or barbells that are thicker in diameter.
Fat Gripz are great for this very reason. You can instantly make a normal training lift into a thick bar lift, instantly increasing the challenge level of the lift. Fat Gripz will go onto just about any device you have, be it a dumbbell, barbell or handle you attach to a cable machine, provided the gripping surface of the handle is long enough to take the Fat Gripz Handle.
I have put Fat Gripz on many different dumbbells, both ones that are plate loadable and ones that are a set weight. I have not seen a dumbbell with a handle that would not accept a Fat Gripz device. Of course, dumbbells do vary so it is possible to run across one that won’t take one. I suppose it is also possible to find a handle attachment that won’t take a Fat Gripz handle either, if it is too short.
Fat Gripz also go on and come off in no time. So if you are in a situation where you have two or people using the same equipment, such as in a boot camp class or group training situation, or if you hand tires and you want to finish out the set with a few more reps, you can pop the Fat Gripz off in no time.
As far as fit, the Fat Gripz seem to be designed to fit tightly around the handle you put them on. This means that the dumbbell will not slip around in the handle while performing rows or turn on you when performing neutral grip rows. The handles actually seem to give ever so slightly so that they dig into the knurling of the handle and stay put fairly well.
Unfortunately, the downside to Fat Gripz is that the handle you are adding the FG to must be in the 1 to 1.25-inch size or else it will not fit around it very well. For instance, once I posted the video above, I received an email from someone asking if the Fat Gripz handle will fit onto a Kettlebell handle in order to make the grip more challenging. You can make it go onto a kettlebell handle, but it does not full encapsulate it, so there will be an open area if you try it.
Grip 4orce Handles
The Grip4orce Handles are my favorite of the various types instant thick bar handles. I use them on a nearly weekly basis. I even recently submitted an article to Powerlifting USA about this. I started working with the G4 handles religiously on Dumbbell Curls this past summer because I found that they worked the thumbs very well. Thumb strength is very important in Grip Sport, as well as many other sports, and when doing curls, especially dumbbel curls, I feel the thumbs get worked much harder than by using Fat Gripz.
The reason that the thumbs are worked harder with the Grip4orce Handles that the Fat Gripz is because the G4’s are designed to try to open up on you as you use them. You have to constantly be crushing with the fingers and by pinching actively with the thumbs throughout the range of motion of the movement, or else the dumbbell will slide around on you.
The thing that sets the G4 handles apart form the TG or FG handles could potentially be their downfall, however. Many people will not be strong enough or have the hand endurance to maintain their grip on the Grip4orce handles when doing an arcing movement such as Dumbbell Curls. This could potentially cause frustration with the device and cause them to give up on them.
I do want to point out, though, that G4 Handles come in two different resistance levels, the Regular version and the Stiff version. So if the people using the handles are younger, inexperienced, or if they are ladies or have a smaller hand, the Regular tension might be better for them.
My suggestion, without a doubt, when using these handles is to use them after your primary movements. Because clenching down for an extended time on the G4 Handles requires such a degree of focus, it will reduce the number of repetitions you will get. For lifts such as Deadlifts and Rows, I would stick with a bar or Fat Gripz. Throw the G4 handles into action for your supplemental work and get a couple more reps in each set by taking the Grip4orce off just before it feels like you are about to fail. This way you will continue to get the reps you usually do and work the musculature effectively instead of losing reps by having to bail out due to your thumb giving out.
Why Instant Fat Bar Handles Make Sense
One of the easiest methods for training for increased grip strength is to use an implement that forces you into a more open handed position. This makes your hands work harder, and this is the concept behind all three of these devices. I think Grip4orce goes beyond what Fat Gripz presents, because you have to work the thumb harder in order to keep the grip in place while training with it.
With the goal of a fatter handle in mind, getting the instant fat bar handles are a cheaper alternative to buying loads of thick bar dumbbells and axles, but more expensive that using home made alternatives such as PVC handles or towels that are slipped over the bar.
The Bottom Line
Which Instant Thick Grip Handle is best for you? Which one do I recommend? That is something that is very hard to say because I do not know you. I do not know your hand size, I do not know your current grip strength or experience. I do not know what you are training for, what your goals are etc., so it is very hard to say which is the best.
The most universal of the three is most likely the Fat Gripz handles. As I have indicated, they instantly slide on the dumbbell/barbell and create a thicker implement for you to train on.
For someone who just wants to passively incorporate hand strengthening movements into their program, then Fat Gripz is probably the way to go. However, I see a dramatic difference as far as how the Grip 4orce works the thumbs, as I pointed out in this post: Inch Dumbbell Training Progress.
I also have used both of these pieces (FG, G4) thoroughly and have put them through the ringer. They hold up well. However, the only ones I am using lately routinely are the G4 handles and that is strictly on dumbbell curls. The arcing path of the Dumbbell Curl combined with having to actively compress the G4 handle, equals a very worn out thumb after training, and I have seen the positive results from it.
I was using the Fat Gripz quite frequently for Pull-ups and for Dumbbell Side Rows, but lately, I have been using Rolling Thunder Handles for my thick bar pull-ups and for Rows I have been using the Inch Dumbbell and Slater’s Hardware Shot Loadable Dumbbell for my thick bar rows.
I do want to make it perfectly clear that I am an affiliate for Fat Gripz and for Grip4orce. I feel that both of their products are of high quality and beneficial, so I have no problem recommending them as an affiliate or not.
Grab Your Instant Thick Bar Implements
Buy FAT GRIPZ Handles
Buy GRIP4ORCE Handles
TYLER GRIPS (for some reason right now there site is not working)
All the best in your training,
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- Fat Gripz Experiment: How Much Do They Affect Your Lifts
- What is the Best Training Equipment?
- How to Make Home Made Rotating Thick Grips