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Beginner Grip Training: Basic Thick Grip Training

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

Beginner Grip Training: Basic Thick Bar Work

This is the latest installment in my Beginner Grip Training series. Up to this point, I’ve already touched on Plate Pinch Grip Training, and Gripper Training, but did you know that even if you don’t have a single piece of grip strength training equipment, you’ve got perfect access to in just about ANY gym around?

It’s true – you can work Thick Bar in your next workout, and this video shows you how.

Thick Bar Training in Any Gym

What questions do you have about Grip Training, Thick Bar Work, etc? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.

All the best in your training,


Challenge Your Paradigms, But Stick With Your Program

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012


As I have said many times in the past, despite my huge hands, for whatever reason, Thick Bar, the type of grip training done on round bars in an open hand position, are one of my nemeses in Grip.

Because Thick Bar was a weakness for me, over the years I began training it less and less, which really just becomes a vicious cycle because when you suck at something, and you don’t work on it, it is only going to make you suck at it worse.

You need to train on it more in order to figure out what is the best way for you, yourself to train on it. Through experimentation, trial and error, and tracking your progress, you can then hope to find tactics that work best for you.

For a long time, I wasn’t doing any of that. I was just training Thick Bar when I had to – when it was coming up in the next contest, and then after that contest I wouldn’t do any of it. Bad idea if you’re looking for progress.

This isn’t just about Grip Training – the same can be said for any other lift, or style of training, really. For instance, if your Squat sucks, and you hate it, then chances are you are going to be tempted to bag it. Maybe you put your squat day on Friday and then invent reasons to miss your Friday workouts so you don’t have to deal with the struggle.

Or maybe the thing that you suck at is Overhead Press. Maybe you’ve never been a good presser because of poor shoulder mobility, or your thoracic area is tight, or your triceps lack lockout strength. Whatever the “reason” you have in your head, they really only amount to excuses if you don’t address them. Eh, I’ll just work bench today and skip overhead…

I came to realize several months ago that if I didn’t start shifting some of my emphasis and efforts to Thick Bar, I was going to continue to be blown away on these events. I first came to this realization in doing one of my Coaching Call Recordings for my guys and gals at, and with that I began looking at my program.

I soon realized that I was doing a whole lot of things I was good at and not nearly enough of the things I was not good at. My weeks were very heavy with Pinch and very light on Thick Bar, with a healthy sprinkle of everything else thrown in.

So, one day I decided it was time to Change My Paradigm. For years, my main emphasis had been Pinch, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it has a great deal of benefit to other aspects of hand strength, but I was doing Pinch at the expense of all my other training.

A Paradigm Shift is essentially a change in your way of thinking, or in this case, a change in the way I was approaching my training. It was time to make some HUGE CHANGES in my training.

What I would like to do right now is invite you to challenge your own paradigms, especially around any particular goals you might have but have been (up until now) incapable of attaining. Set up something that is totally different from what you have been doing — I mean totally different – and go after it.

For me, for years, I chased 400-lbs on an IronMind Axle, and did nothing but get worse because what I continually did over and over and over just wasn’t working. After I had a paradigm shift, I was finally able to deadlift 400+ on the axle.

My First 400-lb Axle Deadlift

However, what I would also like to mention is that there is another part to this. Although I am telling you to make a BIG CHANGE in your training, once you set up a new approach to your training, don’t keep modifying it all the time. Set something up and go for it for at least 4 to 6 six weeks.

When you set a track for a goal, you can’t just keep bouncing back and forth and switching stuff up all the time. You need to decide what you are going to try and then stick to it. That is the only way to know whether what you designed in the first place worked or not. How can you lay out a program and know if it worked if you keep switching every two weeks, continually moving away from the program? You can’t.

In February, I finally hit over 400 on the Axle and it could have been just as easy to stop the program that I laid out for myself and do something different, or go back to just maxing out all the time, but I didn’t. I kept going with it, the only changes I made being to dial back on the volume of thick bar per session when my hands were feeling over-worked.

Sticking with the movements that I decided would be beneficial over the course of the first three months this year has been awesome, as I have continued to build on two separate PR systems on the Axle which I have found to be mutually beneficial, including my 1 Rep Max on the Double Overhand Axle, which I recently got for 423-lbs and have since topped again.

423-lbs on the Axle – New Program Continues to Work

After freezing at 396-lbs and over the course of 4 years and eventually even watching my numbers drop, it feels great to now be consistently working above 400-lbs, and coming ever so close to tripling near 400-lbs on many occasions.

So again, I challenge you to take a look within yourself at the goals that you want to achieve but are not achieving, and ask – Is it time for a paradigm shift? If so, make the change now.

Challenge Your Paradigms, and then Stick With Your Program

Incidentally, my entire Thick Bar Program is fully outlined at I’d love to see you there.

All the best in your training.


400-lb IronMind Axle Deadlift

Monday, February 13th, 2012

IronMind Axle Axle Deadlift

The IronMind Axle is the thick bar implement sold by IronMind Enterprises. It is just under 2-inches in diameter. The Deadlift on the IronMind Axle was an event in contests quite frequently up until 2011.

Past Training History with the Axle

My memory is a bit foggy as to the Exact years but I am going to try to pin them down. I believe it was 2008 when I set my all-time high-water mark in the Axle Deadlift with (I think) 396-lbs. So close to 400-lbs, yet so far away, and I just kept drifting further from that point. In 2009, I lifted 394 at the beginning of the year and then at the end of the year could only manage the high 380’s.

I was slowly but surely getting worse and worse at this lift for no good reason whatsoever.

As I mentioned, the lift took a back-seat to other events through much of 2010 and 2011, at least in the contests I attended.

Then, out of nowhere, something crazy happened. I lifted 408-lbs on the IronMind Axle, and uploaded the video last week.

IronMind Axle 408-lbs

As you can see, the weight shot up off the ground and got past my knees and once I felt that, I knew it was all over. Knee height is usually like my point-of-no-return, in that if I can get it to my knees, I can usually finish the repetition.

A lot of people over the years have watched me struggle with thick bar lifting in contests, despite my large hands, so when they saw me accomplish this mark, many asked me what I changed in order to be able to accomplish this.

Progress on the Axle

Here are some of the things I have been doing to which I credit my Axle Deadlift progress.

Thick Bar Training Frequency

With my selection for the Mighty Mitts competition at the Arnold Classic this year, I knew I would have to face the incredible Sorinex Monster Bar, which is a 500-lb Axle with globe-like heads. Due to my lower back injuries, I have not done a great deal of deadlifts from the floor in the last 6 months, so i knew I had to start doing some more.

I chose to work with the sumo deadlift style because I find although I can lift less weight this way, it seems to be better for my back. I also chose it for its shorter lift stroke and its emphasis on the hips, which I am weak on.

I am also continuing my steadfast work on the Inch Dumbbell. My progress in that has been continuous, although never fast enough for my liking. Regardless, my confidence is growing as I continue to work hard on it.

The Big Change

Many of you are aware that I hold a record in the Two Hands Pinch in Grip Sport. You also know that I chased that damn record for nearly 5 years before finally attaining it. In order to get it, I had to change my way of thinking and the way I trained for it…

Looking back on my historical thick bar training, especially my Axle training, there was a common recurring thread: load on the weight, do a single, load on more weight, do a single, add more weight and fail and keep on trying for a single, all the while failing in the upper weights.

Probably no less than 50 times over the last 5 years I have followed that same pattern where all I did was add a few pounds to the Axle per attempt, do a single and then add some more and try another single. While on one hand, you could probably count the number of times in the lat 5 years that I worked lower intensities for more reps and different tempos.

Insanity, as they say, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So why should I continue doing the same stuff I had always done and all of a sudden expect my numbers to go up? I decided I would no longer work any singles. All my work sets would be done with the objective of hitting triples and my PR’s would be based around them, ONLY.

I started this new approach to the Axle on 12/31/11 and by the first week in February, I had already broken the 400-lb barrier.

This of course, is not all I have been doing.

Specialized Thick Bar Auxiliary Work

I knew that if I wanted to see progress in my Thick Bar Training, that I needed to mold it to look more like what I was doing for Two Hands Pinch. With that, I chose some auxiliary thick bar work that would mimic the auxiliary work that I have done routinely for the last couple of years in my Two Hands Pinch training.

Now, as much as I would love to put this all down here on this site, I am not going to. In order to see what all I have been doing, to get this recent explosion in thick bar strength, you need to join me at my Grip Training Instructional site,

The entry that I am working on there at the TGA site involves exactly what I have been doing. I filmed an entire workout – plus I show you exactly how to set up everything. Here is what is included:

  • Axle Work Sets: You will see every work set that I do, as I nearly set yet another PR! Plus I explain exactly why I choose the loading that I do, technique, and tracking too.
  • Auxiliary Lift 1: In this portion, I show a slight modification I use on the axle, modifying the lift slightly to make it more difficult
  • Auxiliary Lift 2: This is a pre-exhaustion technique I have been using to strengthen the thumb in order to reinforce the open hand position of the axle deadlift.
  • Auxiliary Lift 3: I show an awesome piece of home made grip equipment that goes further in strengthening the hand specifically for thick bar lifts such as the axle and the Inch Dumbbell.

This has all worked very well for me, and I can’t wait to get it out there for my TGA subscribers to see how it works for them as well.

I’d love to work with you too. I’ve worked with lots of people over the years and I strive to help them all with their particular goals. Join TGA today for just $7 and you can see for yourself.

See you at TGA.


Click below to join The Grip Authority

Mighty Mitts and Thick Bar Training

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Diesels – I trust you are working your asses off and shooting for improvement in all areas of your training.

I have awesome news to pass on to you…

Mighty Mitts

I have been selected to compete at Mighty Mitts at the Arnold again this year, and I can’t be any more excited.

Mighty Mitts 2010: I’m not smiling for the camera, I am trying to lift a 500-lb Axle without crapping my pants…thanks to Kevin Cronin for cheering for me – I heard you the whole time…

Making Hard Feats Look Easy – The Inch Dumbbell

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

I have been kicking the Inch Dumbbell’s arse lately.

If you don’t know what the Inch Dumbbell is, it is the globe dumbbell shown below.

Inch Dumbbell