I love to lift weights , but I hate doing all the isolation movements necessary to build a "pretty" physique. I don't do concentration curls, dumbbell laterals, or wrist curls. I do wish I had bigger forearms and a stronger grip though. A more powerful grip and stronger forearms are very important in almost any sport. Plus, the forearms are really the only muscle that people see when you are in public. With this is mind I decided to do something about my grip and forearm muscles to turn my wish into a reality.
Instead of wasting time with wrist curls and wimpy gripper toys from a sporting goods store, I ordered some fat handled dumbbells on-line at the urging of a strongman friend of mine. The handles on the dumbbells I bought are 2" in diameter, double that of a normal handle. The thicker handles forces your entire hand, including your thumb to grip the bar extra hard. To give you an example, a 50 lbs dumbbell will feel like 80 lbs in your hand, and your forearm muscles will tense up like crazy in order to control the bar.
The first time I tried out my Fat Dumbbell, I slapped 90 lbs on it, went to a park and planned to jerk it overhead with one hand and do waiter walks (picture at the bottom). Boy, was I in for a reality check! I could barely get it off the ground with one hand! When I deadlifted the dumbbell, there was no way in hell I could clean it my shoulder without the help of my second hand. I was forced to lower my standards and do farmers walks and shoulder walks with the dumbbell.
I was really surprised how heavy it makes the weight feel in your hands. That is what I love about the thick bars, they make the same old exercises new and more difficult again. Also, they expose a weakness that is very important to bring up, your grip. Imagine you are in a fight or a life and death situation....a strong grip is an asset you would be glad to have in that situation.
After falling in love with my thick handled dumbbells, I started to play around more with a thick barbell we had at my gym back home. Curling, pressing and pulling with a thick handled Olympic bar is very humbling. Expect to use about 60% of your standard weight until your thumbs build up their strength.
My favorite activity to do with the thick handled dumbbell is to do a one DB workout. I put between 50-70 lbs on the dumbbell and just clean and press, snatch, do waiter walks, curls, pulls and presses for about half an hour. I just play around with the bar. By the end of the workout my muscles are tired but my grip is fried! I know I have just improved my grip strength because I can feel a deep down fatigue throughout my hands and forearm.
I am not trying to sell you these bars, I won't make any money on them. But I will strongly recommend them to anyone who want bigger and stronger forearms and a powerful grip. My Fat Handled Dumbbells cost about $80 US plus shipping when I bought them a year ago. Money well spent I think. I loved them enough to bring them to Calgary when I moved from Ottawa!