The No. 1 Question About Thick Bars

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

Two quick notes and then we'll talk iron.

1. The New Dino Dungeon

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them out here:

2. The Dino Files

Go here to grab the January issue of the
Dinosaur Files in PDF format:

3. The No. 1 Question About Thick Bars

Ever since I published Dinosaur Training
back in 1996, I've been buried in questions
from readers.

One of the most common questions involves
thick bars and how to use them. And there's
one question that I get pretty much all the

Here's how one reader phrased it:

"I train self defense 3x a week. I train bodyweight
exercises 2x a week. I do heavy iron once a week
(one movement, such as squats or Trap Bar DL).

I'm currently on your suggested 5 x 5 and hope
to work my way down to singles as you prescribe
in your book. 

My question is around thick bars.

Should I just focus on overall strength and on
adding as much weight as possible to the bar?

Or should I switch to thick bar right now, build
the grip from day one, and sacrifice poundage?"

In other words , the reader is asking if he should
do Trap Bar deadlifts with as much weight as he
can handle -- or do thick bar deadlifts with much
less weight to train his grip?

Some readers phrase it like this:

"I want to do thick bar training, but I can't use
enough weight on thick bar deadlifts to work my
legs, hips and back hard enough -- so what do I

As I said, that's a VERY common question. I get
it at least once a week.

Luckily, there's a very simple answer.

Do this:

1. Train your deadlift or Trap Bar deadlift (or
any other pulling exercise) with a regular-sized bar,
and pile on the weight to build total body strength
and power.

2. At the end of your workout, use the thick bar
for thick bar deadlifts or timed holds or whatever
else you feel like doing. You won't be able to use
as much weight, but that's fine. You're not doing
the exercise to build all-around strength and
power -- rather, you're using it to build grip

Thus, you do your deadlifts TWICE -- with two
different bars -- at two different times in your

It's not either/or. It's not one or the other. It's

Whenever I write programs, I give the basic
exercises to do -- and then I close by saying
"gut, grip and neck work of your choice." The
"grip work of your choice" at the end of the
workout is is where to use the thick bar.

Let me also note:

1. Don't do thick bar squats. It's too easy to
have the bar roll down your back, and that could
cause a very bad injury.

2. If you use a thick bar for overhead presses, push
presses or jerks, be very careful. You don't want to
drop it on yourself. Personally, I prefer to use thick
bars for deadlifts, curls, reverse curls and the
rectangular fix. I use a regular bar for overhead

3. VERY IMPORTANT -- as in, life and death

If you do thick bar bench presses, do them in a
power rack, with the pins set to catch the bar if
you drop it. A spotter won't be able to catch a
falling thick bar that's loaded to a heavy weight.

3a. I would NOT do dumbbell bench press or
incline dumbbell bench press with a thick-handled
dumbbell. Too easy to drop it, and no way to
catch it other than with your teeth -- which
will not be good.

4. If you do dumbbell cleans and swings with a
thick handled dumbbell, always use one dumbbell
at a time, so you can use the non-lifting hand
to help lower the dumbbell.

4a. It's very hard to hold onto a heavy dumbbell
when you lower it from above your head or
from your shoulder -- and remember, your
feet are directly beneath the dumbbell. If
you're holding a pair of thick handled
dumbbells, it will be very difficult to
lower them safely.

4b. I learned this when I cleaned a pair of
132 pound thick handled dumbbells. I'll
never forget the "What do I do now?"
thought that flashed through my mind
as I stood with the bells at my shoulders.

5. A little bit of heavy grip work with
a thick
handled barbell or dumbbell
goes a long way.

5b. Work in three to five sets at the end of
your workout and keep it up for a year or
two, and you'll look have Popeye forearms.

And that's the answer to the no. 1 question
about thick bar training.

As always, thanks for reading, and have a
great day. If you train today, make it a good

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. 1. My new series of Dinosaur Training courses
is selling like hotcakes -- and getting rave reviews
from Dinos. There are three of the little monsters
so far -- and they're available in your choice of
hard-copy, PDF or Kindle e-book.

Here are the links for all three -- hard-copy first,
and then the Kindle e-book. The PDF links are
easy to find in the PDF section of our products
page, which is listed in PS 2 below.

a. Dinosaur Training Secrets, Vol. 1.
"Exercises, Workouts and Training

b. Dinosaur Training Secrets, Vol. 2,
"How Strong Are You?"

c. Dinosaur Training Secrets, Vol. 3,
"How to Use Old-School Progression
Methods for Fast and Steady Gains in
Strength, Muscle and Power"

P.S. 2. My other books and courses --and links to my
PDF and Kindle books and courses -- are right here:

P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "Asking a question
is the only way to get an answer." - Brooks