Old School Thick or Fat Bar Training is Making A Comeback

In today’s era of modern strength training, an old time strongman’s training secret and style is being rediscovered known as thick bar or fat bar training. People, who train with thick or fat bars, will develop greater muscle growth and increased strength gains. Many gym goers are unfamiliar with thick bar training, but the benefits are undeniable. If you are not training with thick bars, you are limiting your workout gains.

Let’s examine:

  • What is the history of thick bar training?
  • Who trains with thick bars today?
  • What is thick bar training?
  • What are the benefits of thick bar training?
  • Should you only train with a thick bar?

What is the history of thick bar training?

During the 19th century, lifting heavy weights became popular to promote health and increase strength. Gymnasiums, which included free weights, sprang up throughout cities in Europe. With the increase and popularity of weight lifting, competitions arose where strongmen would show off their feats of strength. These contests became popular throughout Europe and the United States. Strongmen and women would compete in local contests as well as international events, such as the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. These events included lifting a barbell with people inside and lifting a horse off the ground. As a result of the popularity of weightlifting in the late 1800’s, weight lifting was included as an event in the first Olympics in 1896. To prepare for the feats of strength, strongmen had to train with free weight equipment. However, with the sport in its infancy, retail stores selling free weight equipment did not exist. Therefore, much of the equipment was homemade and often items were retrieved from scrap yards. Through trial and error from making their own equipment, strongmen accidentally discovered that working with a thick bar improved their strength gains. To learn more about the history of thick bar training and strongmen, check out Oldtime Strongmen.

[caption id="attachment_3427" align="aligncenter" width="203"]Oldtime Strongman lifting globe barbell Oldtime Strongman Lifting Globe Barbell[/caption]

Who trains with thick bars today?

Thick bar training is incorporated in the strength training regime of college and professional teams. To enhance performance and decrease the risk of injury, these athletes train with thick or fat Olympic bars, thick handle custom dumbbells, thick handle custom barbells, and thick handle attachments. With the increase in boutique athletic facilities catering to athletic performance and one-on-one specific training, these thick handle training tools are included in training programs to improve strength and muscle gains trainees are looking for. Powerlifters appreciate training with thick handle equipment to increase their lift performance. In the military, Special Operations soldiers are also discovering the benefits of this superior training modality.

[caption id="attachment_3396" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Football Player for the Kansas City Chiefs using Black Iron Strength Thick Handle Dumbbells Football Player for the Kansas City Chiefs using Black Iron Strength Thick Handle Dumbbells (Photo credit: Kansas City Chiefs)[/caption]

What is thick bar training?

Thick or fat bar training is simply using thicker diameter handles on Olympic bars, dumbbells, barbells, cable attachments, or chin-up/pull-up bars in an existing strength training program. The diameter for standard handles are typically 1 to 1 3/8 inches. The photo below compares a 1 3/8 inch handle to a 1 3/4 inch handle on  Black Iron Strength Strap Grips with Antimicrobial Copper handles.

Comparison of Handles 1 3/8 inches to 1 3/4 inches


For purposes of the remainder of the blog, the focus is on thick Olympic bar training, but as discussed many training tools have thick handles.

[caption id="attachment_3402" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Black Iron Strength® Thick Olympic Bar Black Iron Strength® Thick Olympic Bar[/caption]

What are the benefits of thick bar training?

1. Increased hand, forearm and upper body strength as well as endurance

As a result of thick bar training, your hand, grip and upper body strength will increase. This increase in strength is a result of the muscles of the hand, forearms and the upper body having to work harder to manage and control the bar. If you lightly grip the thick bar, you will not be able to hold the bar. When these muscles are having to work harder, it increases the stimulation to the muscle and nerve fibers, which is referred to as neural drive. When muscle and nerve fibers are stimulated with a greater demand, it will lead to an increase in strength and endurance.

2. Improved performance

As a result of increased strength, it will no doubt improve your performance in sports as well as everyday activities. Certain sports come to mind that rely on upper body strength such as combative sports, martial arts and weight lifting. However, hand, forearm and upper body strength is equally important in sports such as tennis, hockey, football, and basketball. Improved performance is why professional and college sports are including thick bar training in their programs. Even if you are only performing everyday tasks such are gardening, you will benefit from the strength gains.

3. Reducing injuries
When you are training with a thick Olympic bar, the thick bar will distribute the weight more evenly so you are incorporating more muscles in the upper body. When training with a smaller diameter bar, your forearms and wrist are doing the majority of the work, which increases your chance of injury. The muscles of the wrist and forearm are smaller than some of the other muscle groups of the upper body such as the lats, deltoids, and pectorals. Since your wrist and forearm muscles are smaller, there is an increased chance of injury because the smaller muscles are less able to absorb the forces generated by the movement. Not only are you less likely to get injured when lifting a thick Olympic bar, the benefits also transfer to sports and everyday tasks. This is an obvious 'cause and effect' that happens - when you are stronger, you are less likely to get injured in a sport or everyday activity. For example, tendinitis of the wrist, which is an inflammation of the tendons in the wrist, is less likely to happen if the wrist and forearms are stronger. Also, the stronger your wrist and forearms are, there is much less stress to your rotator cuff.  Tendinitis and injury to the rotator cuff are only two examples of injuries caused by weak hand and forearm strength.

Should you only train with a thick Olympic training bar?

With the strength gains attributed to thick bar training, one might conclude that it would be best to train only with thick Olympic bars. The saying, ‘variety is the spice of life’ applies here. There is no denying the importance of incorporating thick bar training in your workout routine. However, a variety of exercise routines is important because it prevents boredom as well as overuse of a particular group of muscle. Overuse can definitely contribute to injury.

Why does Black Iron Strength® lead the industry with thick Olympic training bars?

Black Iron Strength® Thick Olympic Training Bars have two distinct features - Rotating Sleeves and Antimicrobial Copper Finish. No one else in the industry can offer these features because they are protected by US Patents.

Black Iron Strength® Thick Olympic Training Bars have a feature that separates them from the competition - rotating sleeves. These rotating sleeves are a stand-alone feature. Black Iron Strength is the only thick Olympic bar on the market that has been awarded a US utility patent. The rotating sleeves reduce the chance of injury because they lessen the stress on the user’s wrists, elbows, and forearms. A thick Olympic training bar with a rotating sleeve reduces the rotational inertia of the weight plates and distributes the forces equally.

Black Iron Strength® also introduced a Thick Olympic Bar with an Antimicrobial Copper finish as an option. (Military hard chrome is still available.) Black Iron Strength has been awarded a US patent for the finish. Germs including super bugs have a natural enemy – Antimicrobial COPPER! Multiple independent research studies have proven that antimicrobial copper kills 99.9% of bacteria in less than two hours. Antimicrobial copper works naturally so there is no special cleaning or maintenance. A recent peer-reviewed study published in the American Journal of Infection Control demonstrates the effectiveness of antimicrobial copper in a fitness environment. The study showed that equipment with antimicrobial copper handles had a lower bacteria count by an average of 94%.

[caption id="attachment_3018" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Antimicrobial Copper on touch sufaces kill germs 24/7 Recent Study in the American Journal of Infection Control shows Antimicrobial Copper Touches Surfaces Decrease Bacteria by 94%[/caption]

These stand-alone features are why Black Iron Strength® Thick Olympic Bars have become the choice with professional and college teams. Safely training athletes so they can perform on the field is a paramount goal in the weight room. This is why such top tier programs as the Clemson Tigers Football, Ohio State Football, University of Michigan Football, Baltimore Ravens, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins MLB, Columbus Blue Jackets NHL, and St. Louis Blues NHL train on Black Iron Strength® thick Olympic bars.

[caption id="attachment_3409" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Baltimore Ravens Football Player training on Black Iron Strength® Thick Bar Baltimore Ravens Football Player Training on Black Iron Strength® Thick Bar (Photo credit: Baltimore Ravens)[/caption]

Click here to learn more information about Black Iron Strength® Thick Olympic Bars and why Black Iron Strength® are the choice of college and professional teams.





Are you considering purchasing adjustable dumbbells?

Why use dumbbells?

No denying that dumbbells are an integral part of a workout routine. Dumbbells not only work out your biceps, but also are effective for working out your back (deadlifts) and abdominals (crunches and side bends) as well as your lower body to include calf raises and lunges. Many fitness professional view dumbbells as the most versatile strength training tool. This article published in ACE highlights the 5 Benefits of Dumbbell Training.

[caption id="attachment_3283" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Man holding dumbbell Black Iron Strength® Dumbbell with Antimicrobial Copper Handle[/caption]

Are you considering adjustable dumbbells?

When considering a dumbbell purchase, are you trying to decide if adjustable dumbbells are a good fit for you? When shopping for adjustable dumbbells, there are two general categories:
• Plate-loaded
• Selectorized

What are plate-loaded adjustable dumbbells?

Plate-loaded adjustable dumbbells are adjusted by manually adding or removing plates, which serve as the add-on weights. The plates are secured with a locking mechanism.

What are selectorized adjustable dumbbells?

The selectorized dumbbells are typically either adjusted by turning a knob or inserting a pin up and down the weight stack to select the desired weight.

How to decide?

To make an informed decision, it is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of Adjustable Dumbbells. Let’s examine the advantages and disadvantages of both categories.

What are the advantages?


Let’s face it, space is often an issue in a weight room. This includes home gyms, boutique fitness centers and athletic facilities. Square feet cost money when paying rent or a mortgage, plus what other equipment you install. Space limitations often lead people to consider adjustable dumbbells. Let’s do the math for the amount of the floor space for conventional dumbbells with a rack. If you have 20 pairs of dumbbells on a conventional rack, it will take up at least 32 square feet of floor space. If you have 40 pairs, it will take up 64 square feet. Black Iron Strength® Adjustable Dumbbells take up 12 square feet. Without a doubt, the overwhelming advantage of adjustable dumbbells is space.


A set of fixed dumbbells is more expensive than a set of adjustable dumbbells. This is because you are purchasing individual dumbbells and supporting racks as opposed to a unit of adjustable dumbbells.

What are the disadvantages?

Lack the ‘look and feel’ of a traditional dumbbell

  • With many selectorized adjustable dumbbells, you are literally placing your hand inside a box. Ergonomically, when you are placing your wrist in a box, it significantly limits your range of motion and will ultimately impact your workout.
  • Plate-loaded adjustable dumbbells are not compact since the handle has to be longer to allow the user to load multiple plates and a locking mechanism. This longer handle creates instability when lifting the dumbbell since the user will have less balance and control. This instability will limit the user’s gains and potentially creates a safety hazard.


  • With the plate-loaded adjustable dumbbells. The securing mechanism for the plate-loaded dumbbells is not commercial grade and even with home use will loosen over time, especially when dropped on the floor. Loose plates create a safety hazard for the user. In a commercial facility, an injury can result in a lawsuit.
  • Selectorized adjustable dumbbells with the box style are difficult to spot and this creates a safety issue.


Many of the parts with the selectorized systems are plastic, which will break over time.

The disadvantages of adjustable dumbbells often deter the buyer because he or she appreciates the value of a ‘real’ dumbbell. However, there is now a solution – Black Iron Strength® Adjustable Dumbbells! Check out this video on Black Iron Strength® Adjustable Dumbbells.

What makes Black Iron Strength® Adjustable Dumbbells the ideal choice?

  • Black Iron Strength® has the only adjustable dumbbells on the market that have the ‘look and feel’ of a traditional dumbbell.
  • Black Iron Strength® has the only commercial grade adjustable dumbbells on the market.
  • Black Iron Strength® Adjustable Dumbbells are designed for vertical storage. The system is 4 feet wide from side to side and 3 feet deep from front to back. In 12 square feet, you have 40 pairs of commercial grade dumbbells from 5 to 102.5 lbs. in 2.5 lb. increments. [caption id="attachment_3293" align="aligncenter" width="286"]Black Iron Strength® Adjustable Dumbbells Black Iron Strength® Adjustable Dumbbells fit in 12 square feet[/caption]
  • Black Iron Strength® has the only adjustable dumbbells available in 2.5 lb. increments up to 157.5 lbs. known as Heavy Set #1 and Heavy Set #2. We also offer Heavy Set #3 and Heavy Set #4 as a special request, especially for pro and college teams.
[caption id="attachment_3296" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Black Iron Strength® Adjustable Dumbbells Heavy Set #3 and Heavy Set #4 Black Iron Strength® Adjustable Dumbbells Heavy Set #3 and Heavy Set #4 at University of Michigan Football​[/caption]
  • Black Iron Strength® has the safest adjustable dumbbell system on the market. The add-on weights are secured with the magnetic power of 80 lbs. of pull on each side of the dumbbell head. The user does not have to worry about the add-on weights falling off. This unique feature, protected by multiple US Patents, is referred to as ‘Poles Apart®’, because the polarity of magnets creates the securing mechanisms.
[caption id="attachment_3311" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Black Iron Adjustable Dumbbell with Add-On Attached Black Iron Strength® Adjustable Dumbbell with Add-on Weight Attached[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3314" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Black Iron Strength® Adjustable Dumbbell with Add-on Weight off and text explaining the location of the magnets Magnets for Add-on Weight[/caption]
  • Black Iron Strength® has the only adjustable custom dumbbells that are available with six different handle choices to accommodate the user’s hand size. Check out this video on the different handle choices available for the Black Iron Strength® commercial grade dumbbells.
[caption id="attachment_3289" align="aligncenter" width="169"]Man holding dumbell. Handle size matters. Black Iron Strength® offers more handle choices than any other fitness company.[/caption]
  • Black Iron Strength® Adjustable Dumbbells not only have more handle choices than any other adjustable dumbbells, but also Black Iron Strength are the only adjustable commercial dumbbells with Antimicrobial Copper Handles keeping you germ-free 24/7/365. Check out this video to see the killing power of Antimicrobial Copper.
[caption id="attachment_3304" align="aligncenter" width="285"]Adjustable Dumbbells with Antimcrobial Copper Handles Adjustable Dumbbells with Antimicrobial Copper Handles[/caption]

These stand-alone features are why Black Iron Strength® Adjustable dumbbells are found in some of the top athletic facilities for college and pro teams. These teams include the LA Kings NHL Hockey, St. Louis Blues NHL Hockey, Columbus Blue Jackets NHL Hockey, Chicago Bulls NBA, Houston Rockets NBA, St. Louis Cardinals MLB, LA Dodgers MLB, and Baltimore Orioles MLB. Black Iron Strength® Adjustable Commercial Grade Dumbbells are also becoming popular in home gyms and personal training facilities.

[caption id="attachment_3301" align="aligncenter" width="231"]Adjustable Dumbbells St. Louis Blues Black Iron Strength® Adjustable Dumbbells at St. Louis Blues NHL Hockey - 2019 Stanley Cup Winners[/caption]

Click here to learn more information about Black Iron Strength® Adjustable Dumbbells and why Black Iron Strength® Adjustable Dumbbells are Poles Apart® from the competition.
















How Dirty are your Dumbbells?

No doubt - the last thing anyone wants to touch is a toilet seat….😱

Guess what...when you pick up that Dumbbell, it has 362 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. FitRated did an independent study on how clean fitness equipment is (1). The researchers performed the test in three different gyms. The findings were disturbing to say the least.

Dumbbell 362x Dirtier than Toilet Seat

That is not a misprint, but an ‘eye opener’ as to just how filthy those dumbbells, barbells and cable attachments can be. Keep in mind - this equipment is in a fitness area where there are generally antibacterial soap dispensers, antibacterial wipes and/or spray bottles with chemical solutions and paper towels to “clean” the equipment.

Why are the dumbbells so DIRTY especially when spray and wipes are usually available to clean the dumbbell handles?
▪ Current system is broken.
▪ Science has shown that antibacterial wipes and antibacterial soaps are ineffective.
▪ No amount of cleaning will remove all of the germs from the tiny crevices in the knurling of the handles.
▪ No one enforces cleaning.

Current System is Broken

To say the current standard of cleaning in a fitness facility is ‘broken’ and has flaws would be an understatement. Imagine going to a restaurant where you are expected to clean your own table before you sit down and then clean every plate, glass, fork, knife, and spoon BEFORE and AFTER you use them. Plus, clean the table again when you are done eating. This cleaning scenario is what is now expected of members working out at fitness facilities. Plus, the soaps/gels and wipes/sprays expose you to harsh chemicals.

Science has proven that antibacterial wipes and gels are ineffective

Multiple studies have shown that bacteria will recolonize even if one cell of bacteria remains after the surface is cleaned. Even after using antibacterial wipes and gels, bacteria and viruses will reappear within 20 minutes. This article in The Telegraph highlights the ineffectiveness of antibacterial wipes (2).

  Wiping surface with antibacterial wipes

No amount of cleaning will remove all of the bacteria and viruses

Think about the knurling on a dumbbell handle. No amount of cleaning is going to remove the bacteria and viruses build-up in those tiny crevices. It is impossible.

No one enforces

Let’s be honest, who enforces the cleaning of the dumbbells? You know the answer - ‘No One’!

Good News…there is a Cost Effective and Non-Chemical Solution as well as a Sustainable and Green solution.

Black Iron Strength® Dumbbells with Antimicrobial Copper CuLEAN® handles kill 99.9% bacteria and other germs continuously, 24/7/365. The killing properties of Antimicrobial Copper last forever, which makes it a cost effective solution without the use of chemicals.

A 2017 published research study in the American Journal Of Infection Control, demonstrates the benefits of the Antimicrobial Copper to protect the user from germs.

Graphic showing the effectiveness of Copper

College and Professional Strength and Conditioning Coaches understand the importance of protecting their athletes 24/7/365 from germs.

See what these college and professional coaches have to say about Black Iron Strength® Dumbbells and other free weight equipment with Antimicrobial Copper Handles.

Justin Lovett, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Purdue Football - ‘Our program is all about what is best for the athlete. Knowing the bactericidal benefits of copper, our only question was, How could we not use this equipment?’ (Insert Purdue Video).
Nelson Ayotte, Director of Player Performance Columbus Blue Jackets: ‘The technology impressed me, this is a guaranteed winning solution in my mind. If these weights prevent us from losing even one player for one game it pays for itself.’
John Shackleton, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Villanova Men’s Basketball: ‘Black Iron Strength Dumbbells with their CuLEAN® copper surfaces gives us a sixth man to combat the threat of infections to protect our athletes’
Matt Price, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach LA Kings: ‘Our objective is to further minimize the exposure of bacteria in our training spaces and having dumbbells with CuVerro® copper handles made huge sense….The net reduction of the spread of bacteria is our goal as we look to minimize athlete's time lost unnecessarily to illness.’

The SOLUTION exists to make your workouts cleaner and safer! You no longer have to workout on free weight equipment that is 362 times dirtier than a toilet seat.

Antimicrobial Copper on touch sufaces kill germs 24/7


Get Fit - Not Sick when working out in the gym or weight room. 

1. Examining Gym Cleanliness. (2019) Retrieved from http://www.fitrated.com/resources/examining-gym-cleanliness

2. Antibacterial Wipes Pointless as Bugs Grow Back in 20 Minutes, Scientists Say. (21 Feb 2018) Retrieved from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/02/21/anti-bacterial-wipes-pointless-bugs-grow-back-20-minutes-scientist

Germs in the Gym – Be Confident Exercise is All You Get in the Gym!

When going to the gym or hitting the weight room - what is your overall goal? Naturally, a ‘top of mind’ goal is to ‘GET FIT’. Of course, you are not thinking ‘GET SICK’! That is a silly thought, but not if you think about how many people touched those handles on the equipment you are working out on and the GERMS they left behind. Gyms and weight rooms are a haven for germs. Although using gym wipes is a good practice, the bottom-line is that germs continue to live on the equipment. A gym should be a place where we go to Get Fit - Not Sick.

Good news…there is a solution - Black Iron Strength® Antimicrobial Copper touch surfaces on strength equipment. This solution is Chemical Free, Sustainable, and Works Continuously - 24/7/365.

This Video shows how Antimicrobial Copper works:

Super Bugs with Play Button

Let's examine 'Germs in the Gym' in more detail:

  • What makes germs including Super Bugs so dangerous?
  • How are germs including Super Bugs spread?
  • Why are gyms the perfect harbor for the spread of germs?
  • What is the SOLUTION?

What makes germs including Super Bugs so dangerous? – The discovery of the first true antibiotic, Penicillin, in 1928 revolutionized the world of medicine. People no longer had to live in fear of death when they developed a bacterial infection. After the discovery of penicillin, scientists continued to develop better and stronger antibiotics to combat new strains of bacteria. These drugs gave us a sense of security and we overused them. Along the way, germs started to mutate and change so they could survive the drugs. Basically, these tiny organisms figured out how to ‘out-smart’ the scientists and Super Bugs developed. In 2014, these Super Bugs infected more than 2 million people in the US and more than 23,000 people died according to the National Institute of Health. Unfortunately, the number of infections and deaths are increasing every year. (1)

How are germs including Super Bugs spread? – Did you know the 80% of infectious diseases are transferred by touch?  On a daily basis, your hands touch many places and objects as well as skin to skin contact with another person. Do you honestly believe that every object you come in contact with has been properly cleaned and sanitized? Do you believe that each person you touch with your hands has properly washed their hands? According to the CDC, just 40% of healthcare personnel adhere to hand washing. If only 40% of healthcare personnel are compliant with hand washing, do you really think the rest of the population is washing their hands? You know the answer - NO!!!

Why are gyms a perfect harbor for germs? – Obviously, when you go to the gym or the weight room, you are working hard to build muscle or to simply to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Whatever your motivation, you are sacrificing precious time with a fitness goal in mind.  What rarely crosses your mind is that on every handle and every bar, there are millions of bacteria or viruses that have been put there by the hundreds or thousands of people who have lifted the same weight weeks, days, and years before you. No amount of cleaning will remove all the bacteria. Plus, the bacteria and viruses simply grow back. FITRATED completed a study examining gym cleanliness This study will grab your attention. Did you know that dumbbell you are using has 362x more bacteria than a toilet seat!!! (2)

Dumbbell 362x Dirtier than Toilet Seat

What is the SOLUTION? – Germs including Super Bugs have a natural enemy - Antimicrobial COPPER! Multiple independent research studies have proven that antimicrobial copper kills 99.9% of bacteria in less than two hours. Antimicrobial copper works naturally so there is no special cleaning or maintenance. Plus, it is free of chemicals and never stops working. A recent peer-reviewed study published in the American Journal of Infection Control demonstrates the effectiveness of antimicrobial copper in a fitness environment. The study showed that equipment with antimicrobial copper handles had a lower bacteria count by an average of 94%.

Graphic showing the effectiveness of Copper


Antimicrobial Copper on touch sufaces kill germs 24/7


Good news…Antimicrobial Copper handles are available on strength equipment. Black Iron Strength® is the leading and only manufacturer of antimicrobial copper fitness equipment. To see the full line of Antimicrobial Copper CuLEAN® equipment by CuVerro® , click here. Our goal at Black Iron Strength® is to make sure people GET FIT-NOT SICK when working out in the gym or weight room. 

1 Stop the Spread of Super Bugs. (2014). Retrieved from https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2014/02/stop-spread-superbugs
2 Examining Gym Cleanliness. (2019) Retrieved from http://www.fitrated.com/resources/examining-gym-cleanliness/

Are Cable Attachments Created Equal? Five Factors to Consider when Purchasing Cable Attachments!

Are all cable attachments the same? Why are some cable attachments more expensive than other cable attachments? This is an important question when we are all looking for the best value for our money. Whether purchasing the cable attachment for a fitness center or home gym, what factors should you consider? Knowing that not all cable attachments are the same, this will help you make an informed decision when buying cable attachments for your home gym or fitness center.

What are the five factors to consider when purchasing Cable Attachments? 

  • Positive grip
  • Durability
  • Maintenance and cleaning
  • Ergonomics and biomechanics
  • Finish on the cable attachment

Positive Grip

When purchasing a cable attachment, consider the grip. After all, your grip is the weakest factor and will fail first. Don’t let your grip be your limiting factor. If you do, it will prevent you from getting maximum result from your upper body workout! Some attachments have a rubber or foam-gripping surface. Rubber or foam grips can be slippery and will limit your ability to grip the handle. Steel handles with superior knurling will always provide the best gripping surface. Not all knurling patterns are the same! If the knurling pattern is too shallow, you can loose your grip. If the knurling pattern is too deep, it can cut into your hands. From my experience, the knurling on attachments manufactured overseas is not nearly as good as the knurling on attachments manufactured in the USA. Next, let's consider durability.   

[caption id="attachment_2916" align="alignnone" width="197"]All Black Iron Strength® Cable Attachments have precision knurling, which creates a positive grip. Black Iron Strength® Stirrup Grip with Precision Knurling[/caption]


How often are you looking to replace your cable attachment? If you choose a cable attachment with a rubber or foam handle, the rubber or foam will eventually wear out. However, solid steel handles will give many years if not a lifetime of use. In the long run, steel handles will cost more in the beginning. However, over time you will save money because eventually a foam or rubber will disintegrate. Also, with a strap grip, consider the material that the strap is constructed out. Most straps are flat nylon. However, the most superior strap for cable attachments is mountaineering rope. Mountaineering rope is much stronger and durable than traditional straps used in strap grips. In addition, mountaineering rope is much comfortable than traditional nylon. What about the maintenance and cleaning?

[caption id="attachment_2915" align="alignnone" width="300"]Black Iron Strength® Strap Grips are constructed out of mountaineering rope. Black Iron Strength® Strap Grips with Mountaineering Rope[/caption]

Maintenance and Cleaning

If you choose a rubber or foam handle, both are is very difficult to clean. Since rubber and foam are porous, it is a harbor for bacteria! This is especially important to consider if you are purchasing cable attachments for multiple users. Solid Steel is easier to clean. However, the cleanest handle option is antimicrobial copper handles. Antimicrobial Copper Handles are a self-cleaning surface and kills 99.9% of all bacteria and viruses in 2 hours or less. This technology works 24/7. Check out this medically based independent research study in the American Journal of Infection Control on the killing properties of antimicrobial copper on fitness equipment.  What about the ergonomics and biomechanics of the attachment?

[caption id="attachment_2861" align="alignnone" width="300"]Black Iron Strength Cable Attachments with Antimicrobial Copper Handles kills germs 24/7. Black Iron Strength® Straight Bar with Antimicrobial Copper Handles - Kills all Germs 24/7[/caption]

Ergonomics and Biomechanics

No doubt, we are all looking to live a long life and enjoy a lifetime of exercising so you need to keep those joints happy! When choosing a cable attachment, consider attachments with rotating handles. Rotating handles reduce the stress on the user’s wrist, elbows, and shoulder joints. Speaking from personal experience, when those joints wear out, it will definitely affect your ability to exercise. It is important that the rotation be smooth and fluid, allowing you freedom of movement to focus on your exercise and to not be limited by a poorly manufactured cable attachment. Cable attachments manufactured with IGUS® bearings allow for superior rotation and need little maintenance. Finally, let's consider the finish on the cable attachment.

[caption id="attachment_2914" align="alignnone" width="300"]Cable Attachments with Rotating Handles are the most ergonomic Black Iron Strength® Low Row with Rotating Handles[/caption]

Finish on Cable Attachment

The most ideal finish on a cable attachment is a military hard chrome finish. Often less expensive cable attachments have a decorative chrome finish, which has is very shiny. These attachments are often made overseas. What is the difference between military hard chrome and decorative hard chrome? Why pay the difference? Decorative chrome chips easily and will start to flake while military hard chrome is durable and will give you a lifetime of use. Once again, it is important to realize that a less expensive cable attachment will more be costly in the long run when you consider the durability and are having to replace the cable attachment more often.

[caption id="attachment_2913" align="alignnone" width="300"]Black Iron Strength® have a military hard chrome, which is the most durable. Black Iron Strength Straight Bars with Military Hard Chrome Finish[/caption]

I hope you have found these five factors helpful when you are purchasing cable attachments https://shop.blackironstrength.com/collections/cable-attachments. At Black Iron Strength®, our focus is to deliver a superior product to give you a lifetime of use.

Jump Start Your Workout – Include Cable Attachments

Are you considering purchasing a cable machine for your home gym? Does the fitness center you are a member have cable machines? If you are new to cable attachments, consider including them in your fitness routine. Cable attachments are versatile and give you a wide range for upper body movements. Recently, when I was at the gym, someone asked me,  ‘Why use cable attachments?’ My response was, ‘Why not, don’t limit yourself!’ Let’s discuss the basics! Learn what are cable attachments and what are some of the more popular attachments that will find in the gym or consider purchasing for your home?

Why use Cable Attachments? Cable attachments are designed to use with cable-based machines and easily attach with a carabiner clip to the machine. Using cable attachments will significantly increase the number of exercise possibilities with your upper body. Plus, as you get more advanced, there are lower body exercises that you can do with cable attachments, but I will save that for another blog. Cable attachments allow you to a exercise with greater range of motion because of the freedom of exercising in a variety of different angles. Unlike machines, you are not confined to exercising within a defined range of motion.

What are some of the popular Cable Attachments? Let's discuss (5) commonly used cable attachments that will jump start your workout: Low Row, Strap Grip, Stirrup Grip, Straight Bar and Lat Pulldown.


Low Row

Cable Attachments with Rotating Handles are the most ergonomic

The Low Row Cable Attachment is sometimes referred to as the Double D or the 3-D V-Shaped Handle. It is often used as a standing or seated row, which is a pulling movement. This compound movement works the lats and biceps. Click to see full product description.

Strap Grip

[caption id="attachment_2864" align="alignnone" width="300"]Strap Grip gives you a variety of upper body movements. Black Iron Strength® Strap Grips with Antimicrobial Copper Handles[/caption]

The Strap Grip gives the user tremendous options in an upper body workout because of the flexibility of the strap. Some of the exercises with the Strap Grip are bicep curls, press downs, chest presses, seated rows, and pull downs. The flexibility of the strap allows you to work a variety of upper body muscles including the biceps, triceps, lats, deltoids, and pecs. When working out with a strap grip, it is a one-handed motion. Therefore, you are working out each side of the body independently, which avoids one side compensating for the other that could create a strength imbalance. Click to see full product description.

Stirrup Grip

[caption id="attachment_2860" align="alignnone" width="197"]Jump start your workout with cable attachments from Black Iron Strength. Black Iron Strength® Stirrup Grip Cable Attachment with Antimicrobial Copper Handles[/caption]

The Stirrup Grip is sometimes referred to as the cable version of a dumbbell. Like the dumbbell, the stirrup grip on a cable unit allows for a variety of pressing and pulling movements. For example, the bicep curl would be a pulling motion and the tricep press down would be a pressing or pushing motion. Like the Strap Grip, working out on with stirrup grip is a one-handed movement. Therefore, you are working each side of the body independently.  Click to see full product description.

Thick Handle Straight Bar

[caption id="attachment_2832" align="alignnone" width="300"]Black Iron Strength® Straight Bar is available in three lengths. Black Iron Strength® Straight Bar Cable Attachments (Available in 14 inches, 20 inches & 26 inches)[/caption]

The Straight Bar is very versatile because it allows for multiple pulling and pushing upper body movements. Some of these exercises include bicep curl, pull downs, high rows, upright rows and shrugs. With the versatility of this attachment, you can activate the major muscle groups of the upper body. Most straight bars are 20 inches long. However, some brands are available in 14 inches and 26 inches long. This is important because we are not all the same size! You should consider choosing a straight bar based on your shoulder width. If you have a wider stance, consider the 26-inch bar. However, if you have a narrower stance, the 14-inch bar would be a better choice. Click to see full product description.

Lat Pulldown

[caption id="attachment_2856" align="alignnone" width="300"]The Lat Pulldown allows you to perform lat pulldowns giving you a wider grip option. Black Iron Strength® Lat Pulldown with Antimicrobial Copper Handles[/caption]

The Lat Pulldown is a long bar that runs straight and curves at each end, which allows the user to naturally grip the bend in the bar. When attached to the cable machines, you use the bar to perform lat pulldowns to the chest or behind the neck, to exercise your lats. However, do not limit yourself to lat pulldowns! This bar has multiple purposes, especially when performing exercises with a wider grip. This includes exercises such as wide-grip upright rows, wide-grip cable shrugs, wide-grip seated rows and wide-grip tricep press downs. Click to see full product description.

By discussing the basics, hopefully, this article has taken some of the mystery out of using cable attachments and given you the groundwork to use cable attachments the next time you are in the gym. As a fitness educator and former owner of a personal training facility, I have always encouraged the use of cable attachments. Attach those cable attachments and ‘Jump Start Your Workout!’ My next blog, I will focus on the five factors to consider when purchasing cable attachments.

Kettlebells: Old-School Power, New-Age Technique = World Class Strength

A Brief History

“The reemergence of the kettlebell as a training tool of prominence in recent times has spawned a great deal of buzz about this supremely time-honored strength/conditioning medium”. J. Dellinger continues on to share that, despite a lack of documented info on kettlebells, there is traceable data to show that this type of strength training instrument has been used throughout the world, including Russia, Ireland, China, India, and Egypt. It’s no wonder that countries are competing for the original acknowledgement of this amazing, yet pragmatic “ring-weight”.

The Textbook of Weightlifting, published in 1910 contains four exercises, which used the kettlebell. Then, in 1924, the Milo Barbell Company incorporated six kettlebell exercises in their course series Body-building and Muscle-developing Exercises. The reason for the implementation of the kettlebell is obvious from two perspectives. First, it made lifting a heavy weight both convenient and practical. Second, the aesthetic shape made them ideal for strongman acts.

Arthur Saxon, nicknamed "The Iron-Master", was a German strongman and circus performer from the late 19th century into the early 20th century. Mr. Saxon had the following points of interest to say:  “The lifting of three, or even two, 56 lb. ring weights is far more impressive to the ordinary man than a much heavier bar-bell.”

We can all agree that kettlebell training methods and philosophy have evolved since the late 1800’s, Brian D. Johnston and Tommy Boyer-Kendrick continue on in Current Kettlebell Methodology. They state that in the past, the number of explosive and ballistic kettlebell movements were often more of a demonstration of ability rather than an applied and regular exercise technique. We know more about the human body, what our individual muscle groups are capable of and how to utilize kettlebell training to our advantage to increase muscle and performance.

Arthur Saxon, the only man to single press 370 pounds overhead with one arm, had this to say on the subject in The Text Book of Weight-lifting:

“In order to secure (the result of all-around development), the exercising must be thorough, and it must be all-around. Each part of the body must be dealt with seriatim.”

“Just think carefully over the various lifts, and you will see that every lift develops particularly certain muscular groups upon which a very considerable strain is put in other lifts, which do not, however, test these same groups so severely. It stands to reason, therefore that the regular practice of all-around lifting must (out) of necessity, be excellent practice, not only for all-round lifting, but also for special and particularized lifting.”

Dynamic Duo: The Maker and The Instructor

There are two key players in the kettlebell industry: the maker, Tom Grace, President of Black Iron Strength®, and the instructor, Michael Skogg, world-renowned kettlebell coach, educator and author.

Michael Skogg has this to say about kettlebell technology today:

“It’s for everyone. Whether you’re a 20-something guy in peak condition, or a 72 year-old grandma, we can work out a routine for you and it will make you stronger.” “A simple concept: Everyone can be strong with the (SKOGG) Kettlebell Method.” 

That statement is a huge jump from the iron men of the 1800’s to being a recommended weight lifting apparatus for a “72 year old grandma.” Here is the thing, when used correctly, at the appropriate weight, kettlebell training is ideal for all lifters. In The Future of Kettlebell Training, Brian D. Johnston and Andrew Short share the following:

Certainly the “olde tyme” strongmen exercise and methods will never go out of vogue; and neither will Olympic style lifting. Those lifts have become “traditional” and likely will always remain part of our exercise heritage. However, as we become more creative and have better tools with which to exercise, such as Modern American kettlebells by Black Iron Strength®. These new and innovative methods are easier to develop and employ, which meets the needs of our progressive society to bring this optimum weight training application to all as Michael Skogg referred to above. To learn more about the Skogg Kettlebell Method or to purchase the Skogg Training System, click here: Skogg

Let’s talk about the modern maker, Tom Grace.

Tom Grace, President of Black Iron Strength®, and developer of the Modern American Kettlebell, is no stranger to strength training in athletics and in military training.

Tom served as the Director of Instruction for the Department of Physical Education at the US Military Academy supervising 42 instructors, 57 programs and instruction for 4,400 cadets. Also, Tom was also the Women’s basketball strength and conditioning coach at West Point. Tom served as an Officer in the US Army, retiring at the rank of Major, from 1978-1992. After completing his Master of Science in Exercise and Sports Science from Penn State University, he returned to his Alma Mater to become an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Education.

With education and experience under his belt, Tom applied his knowledge to develop the top of the line, American made weight training systems. In fact, Black Iron Strength® has been awarded 15 US Patents and 6 Registered Trade Marks.

To check out Black Iron Strength Kettlebells and to purchase direct, click here:

Black Iron Strength® Kettlebells