Fat-grip training can make a significant difference in your workout routine. In this guide, we explore the most effective ways utilize fat grips not just to enhance arm size and grip strength, but your whole upper body!

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In recent years, fat-grip training, also known as fat-bar training, has surged in popularity. Professional bodybuilders and strength trainers frequently endorse it to increase strength, muscle development, and address upper-body weaknesses. Until recently, a major obstacle was the lack of gyms equipped with thick barbells or dumbbells. However, with a one-time investment of approximately $130, you can now acquire portable silicone thick grips HERE, which can easily fit into your gym bag, enhancing both your grip and arm workouts.

As a devoted advocate of fat-grip training, I've witnessed the transformative impact of adopting a larger grip on athlete strength and muscle gains. These portable grips have become an indispensable addition to my gym arsenal.

Like any training method, there are right and wrong approaches to fat-grip training. Let's delve into the essential elements and explore my preferred exercises for optimizing your fat grip workout.

But why should you consider fat grip exercises in the first place?


If you've ever wondered about the benefits of using fat grips during your workouts, one key concept to consider is 'muscle irradiation.' It's a fascinating phenomenon in the world of strength training and biomechanics.

Muscle irradiation is the term used to describe how the activation of muscles can expand beyond the primary muscle groups you're targeting. In simpler terms, it's like a ripple effect of muscle engagement throughout your entire body.

Picture this: You're at the gym, gripping a barbell with fat grips. The increased thickness of the bar and the tension it creates in your hands and arms require more muscle force to maintain control. Now, here's where the magic happens – as you exert this extra effort, the activation of your muscles spreads, not just within the specific muscle groups you're focusing on, but to adjacent and connected muscles as well.

In practical terms, using fat grips can lead to a more comprehensive and effective workout. You're not only targeting specific muscles but also engaging a wider range of muscle groups, resulting in enhanced overall muscle activation. It's like getting more bang for your buck in the gym.

Don't simply attach fat grips to every exercise and expect instant results; building muscle and achieving significant progress takes time and consistent effort. Follow our five rules for getting the most out of fat grip training, and you'll save time and maximize the gains.


Compound exercises form the cornerstone of an effective training program because they target multiple joints, promoting overall strength. However, experienced lifters understand the risk of placing excessive strain on joints when performing compound lifts. Fat grips can potentially exacerbate this issue.

Consider the chin-up as an example. Using fat grips during a pull-up or a chin-up can significantly increase stress on the elbows. This occurs because the forearms play a dual role, flexing the elbow and curling the wrist simultaneously. This combined action can quickly overwhelm the muscles, potentially leading to cramping and even tears.

To mitigate these risks, it's advisable to limit the intensity of certain upper-body exercises when incorporating thick bars. Use them sparingly and pay close attention to your body's signals. While I've effectively used fat grips myself and with others, pushing too hard or too frequently can result in complaints of elbow discomfort and significant soreness. To avoid conditions like elbow tendinitis or torn forearm muscles, it's essential to exercise caution in this regard.

Compound exercises are essential for an effective program because they build strength in more than one joint.

Moderate resistance only: 6 reps or higher

  • Dumbbell rows
  • Barbell rows
  • Heavy biceps curls


Forearms exhibit positive responses to high-repetition sets. The extended time spent under tension contributes to achieving that "full" appearance in both the forearms and upper arms. Given the potential risks associated with high-intensity upper-body exercises due to their two-joint action, a safer strategy involves limiting the weight when incorporating fat-grip exercises and prioritizing higher repetitions with prolonged tension.

Here's a straightforward approach to target both the forearms and biceps effectively:

EZ-bar biceps curl: Complete 3 sets comprising 8-12 repetitions with a moderate weight.

Fat-grip EZ-bar biceps curl: Execute 2-3 sets until reaching muscle failure, utilizing a lighter weight.

This combination fosters an excellent muscle pump and induces the metabolic stress necessary for muscle breakdown, ultimately promoting muscle growth.


When the primary aim of an exercise is to enhance maximum strength, as seen in a 3-rep max bench, the goal is to lift the heaviest weight possible. However, incorporating fat grips into such efforts can diminish your performance by rendering your grip the limiting factor.

For example, if your bench press max stands at 275 pounds, you might only manage 225 pounds when using fat grips or a fat bar. If your objective is to surpass the 275-pound mark in your bench, performing repetitions to failure at 225 pounds won't suffice. While your grip strength may improve, your maximum bench press strength won't see significant progress. This limitation arises because many of the involved muscles—such as the back, glutes, and hamstrings—will only be engaged at approximately 67 percent of their maximum capacity.

This combination will maximize strength and hypertrophy by reducing hand fatigue.

To address this, a recommended approach involves a combination of standard bar work followed by fat-grip exercises:

Perform bench press with low to moderate repetitions using a regular bar.

Incorporate fat-grip pause rep training or high-repetition sets.

If your primary goal is to increase strength, this combination of endurance-based training and heavier-resistance work can yield remarkable results.


While some lifters may claim that fat grips are the sole key to achieving extraordinary arm strength and size, a comprehensive approach is essential if you're truly prioritizing these attributes.

Crushing-Grip Training: This involves exercises such as rack holds, farmer's walks, grippers, or max-effort deadlifts. It focuses on developing maximum strength, which in turn simplifies other grip-related tasks.

Open-Hand Training: These exercises involve scenarios where your hands cannot fully close around an object. Fat grip training and pinch-grip holds fall into this category and specifically target finger strength, surpassing the benefits of crushing grip exercises.

Endurance and Metabolic Exercises: The fat-grip finishers mentioned earlier fall under this category. They promote muscle growth through progressive overload and metabolic stress. Combining these with max-effort lifts and achieving a robust muscle pump results in increased size and strength.

Range of Motion Exercises: This category includes exercises like wrist curls, Spider curls, and reverse curls. Most grip exercises typically involve holding an item while stabilizing the wrist, but exercises that take the wrist through a full range of motion are crucial for stimulating muscle growth.


To optimize your fat-grip training, it's essential to have a clear understanding of your objectives. Are you aiming for larger forearms and stronger hands? Is overall arm development your goal? Or perhaps you seek enhanced performance in significant lifts like the deadlift?

Defining your goals will steer you toward the most effective utilization of fat grips, ensuring you don't waste time and avoid a haphazard "one-size-fits-all" approach.


1. High-Rep Bar Biceps Curls

Incorporating fat grips into your bar biceps curls can effectively target your forearm and bicep muscles. Begin with a light weight on the barbell to accommodate the added challenge of the fat grips. Perform high-repetition sets, aiming for 15-20 reps per set. The extended time under tension will engage both your biceps and forearms, promoting muscle growth and endurance.

2. Close Grip Bench Press

Enhancing your close grip bench press with fat grips can intensify the exercise and engage your forearm muscles. Start with a moderate weight, as the fat grips will increase the difficulty. Aim for 8-12 reps per set to strike a balance between strength and endurance. This exercise not only targets your triceps but also enhances grip strength.

3. EZ-Bar Triceps Extensions

To involve your forearms in your triceps workout, attach fat grips to the EZ-bar. Begin with a moderate weight and complete 8-12 reps per set. This combination effectively challenges both your triceps and forearms, helping you build strength and muscle endurance.

4. Overhead Shoulder Press

Elevate your overhead shoulder press by using fat grips on the barbell or dumbbells. Depending on your preference, select either light or moderate weights. Perform 10-15 reps per set to maximize the involvement of your forearm muscles. This exercise not only strengthens your shoulders but also enhances your grip.

5. Dumbbell Forearm Curls

Incorporating fat grips into your dumbbell forearm curls is a direct way to target your forearm muscles. Begin with light weights to accommodate the added challenge. Focus on high-repetition sets, aiming for 15-20 reps per set. The extended time under tension helps develop both forearm strength and endurance, promoting overall forearm growth.