I am going to start this review off with a simple but true statement: If you are an Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) athlete that trains with weights, and you are not using Fat Gripz, you are wrong. Fat Gripz turns every exercise into one that stresses your forearms. While you do not have to use weights to be a good OCR athlete, I am an advocate of incorporating at least some of them into your training because it provides a simple method for increasing stress on the body (ex. More weight makes things harder which creates a physiological adaptation. While it is not always easier to find a heavier tire to flip, a higher rope to climb or a bigger sandbag to carry it is pretty simple to add more weight).
Fat Gripz are rubber sleeves that go over the handle of a dumbbell or barbell creating a wider grip and cost about $39.99 (version dependent). They come in two versions; the blue version is the regular Fat Gripz makes grabbing a barbell like grabbing a soda can. They also have an Extreme version, which is red and are slightly thicker than the blue version. The concept behind the product is by having a wider grip on the barbell it requires more muscle activation in the forearms, which will help produce greater strength overall. As OCR athletes, you need to use them because they will improve your grip strength.
When you first switch to Fat Gripz, you will have to decrease the weight on all exercises, however, over the next couple of weeks as your forearms improve, you will return to similar amounts of weight but with much stronger forearms. If you have never used them before, I do not recommend jumping right into the Extreme version. The Extreme performs as advertised with a grip so wide, many athletes used to just regular dumbbells will have trouble holding them. (The link buying the Extreme is separate from the rest of their online store, like some hidden secret, but can be accessed at the bottom of the main Fat Gripz page here.)
As an OCR athlete, I use them because it creates stress on my forearms for every exercise. This is especially important for the ultra-OCR competitions I am competing in (BFX, WTM, and OCR America) but also for events that are short but very grip strength intensive (BattleFrog, Conquer The Gauntlet).
While just sitting around doing static hangs, farmers carries, and wrist curls is okay for some people, Fat Gripz allows you to target other muscle groups while simultaneously improving grip strength in addition to making those forearm specific workouts harder. It allows you to simulate the constant fatigue of grip strength that occurs over the course of an OCR but condensed into a single strength training session.
The rubber sleeve is very heavy duty and despite using them for the last couple of years, I
Have seen no visible change in their functionality. Their versatility allows them to be used on anything that is bar-shaped and is only limited by your imagination. Want a harder version of Jerry can carry, pull-ups, farmer’s carries, lat pull-downs or if you are aggressive the peg board. The bottom line, as stated in the intro, if you are on OCR who trains with weights push Fat Gripz and Fat Gripz Extreme towards the top of your purchase list.
Fat Gripz comparison photo from FatGripz.com
Other gym photos courtesy of Strength & Speed