Incorporating the Axle Bar in Your Strength Routine

Incorporating an Axle "Fat" Bar in your Strength Routine


The obvious benefit to using a "fat" bar is improving grip strength, which will result in increased forearm strength and shoulder stability.

What Is an Axle "Fat" Bar?

An Axle Bar or "Fat" Bar is exactly what it sounds like. It is a barbell that is thicker than most standard Olympic barbells, typically 2 inches in diameter. Here are a few other things to know about Axle Bars:

  • There is typically no knurling on the bar. Chalk is your only friend here.
  • This is one, solid bar. The collars do not rotate. May sound like a challenge 😈
  • It is a staple in Strongman events but most can find some benefits when they incorporate it into their strength training regime.

Why Should I Add an Axle Bar to My Workout?

Depending on your goals, you may find some benefits with using an Axle Bar. This is more of a supplemental bar. If you do any sort of weightlifting or powerlifting, the standard 28mm shaft barbells are ideal but adding an Axle Bar to your regime can help improve your strength and reach your goals in ways you wouldn't normally get with a regular barbell.

  • The obvious benefit to using a "fat" bar is improving grip strength, which will result in increased forearm strength and shoulder stability.
  • Hand strength improvement - helpful for those using grappling or grabbing movements like in combat sports, baseball, football, or basketball.
  • More muscles are working to execute the movement because you've basically thrown a wrench in what your body is used to. First, it was just lifting the weight, now you have to lift the weight AND hold on to it.
  • You can improve your pulling strength.  It's a whole other beast when you use an axle bar. You'll find your totals are lower when using an Axle Bar, but you find the weight on a regular Olympic bar will seem "lighter" afterward.

Thick As Thieves

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What Movements Can You Do With an Axle Bar?

Using an axle bar for the same movements you use your standard Olympic bar will work some muscles you haven't used before. Even just doing holds for time will definitely test your grip strength. Here are a few movements that may gain strength with what you're already doing.

Pulling movements, like deadlifts

  • A benefit of training pulls with the axle is it can increase starting strength from the floor.
  • There's a bend with standard Olympic bar, which can make the weight seem lighter. With an axle bar, the full weight on the bar is present when you lift the weight off the floor.
  • The total weight you use with a standard Olympic barbell will be more than what you will use on an axle bar.

Axle Curl

If you're looking to build your upper body strength, try doing Axle Bar Curls. This movement doesn't just target the bicep muscle like a traditional curl done with a dumbbell or barbell, but also the forearm and muscles around the elbow.

With the Axle Curl Bar, you get the best of both worlds, grip strength training and a more natural wrist position due to the curvature of how this barbell is made. If you have any joint or wrist issues, you should consider a barbell with a more neutral grip like a Curl Bar or Swiss Multi-Grip Bar.

Axle Clean & Press

  • Because the collars do not rotate, your other muscles are working to complete the movement.
  • For this movement, the rotating collars (or lack of rotation) is a huge factor. Using an axle bar forces an athlete to fight to maintain position and resist the bar’s natural rotation as they clean it.
  • When timed correctly and performed properly the axle press can increase the efficiency of a standard barbell press.

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