Harbinger Big Grip Bar Grips, an essential item for OCR weight training.

When talking about Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) training, I adhere to three guiding principles that I initially proposed in my book Strength & Speed’s Guide to Elite OCR: Progressive, Specific and Enjoyable. Progressive refers to training that gets harder as you get better, specific means it mimics the movements/effort of what you experience while racing and enjoyable refers to like what you are doing because you will put more effort if it is fun. Personally, I enjoy training with weights and Harbinger Big Grip Bar Grips allow me to really focus my strength training by making it progressive and specific. Before we get too deep into training theory, let’s talk about the product and why you may want to incorporate them into your training.

Masters athlete Lisa Nondorf using Harbinger grips for pull-up/chin-up training.

Harbinger is a leading brand in the strength industry. If you have ever used gym provided accessories, worn a weight belt, used a pulley machine or shopped for strength training products, you probably have used one of their products.   I bring this up because if there is a company that knows about improving strength, Harbinger is it.

Conquer The Gauntlet Pro Nathan Palmer using the grips on a pulley machine.

What are Big Grip Bar Grips?

Big Grip Bar Grips are heavy duty rubber sleeves that go over a standard dumbbell or barbell to make it harder to hold. They are about 5 inches long and when placed over a standard bar add 1.25 inches to the diameter.  

Turn every exercise into a grip strength exercise.

Why make the grip bigger?

For most of the athletes shopping on Harbinger’s website come from a strength training background with goals of muscle or strength building. Thick bar training requires athletes to squeeze harder to hold the weight, thus engaging more muscle and therefore building more strength and/or size. While this is great, that’s not the primary reason I’m a fan of them.

Death Race finisher Christina “HB” Armstrong using Big Grip Bar Grips for farmers walks.

For OCR, grip strength is an attribute that is second only to running speed in the sport. Harbinger Big Grip Bar Grips allow me to train forearms and grip strength simultaneously while working on other muscles groups. This makes even my supplemental exercises have an important grip strength component. It is training like this that I feel has improved my obstacle proficiency across brands like the 4-mile Conquer The Gauntlet to the 24 hour World’s Toughest Mudder.


I’ve owned the Big Grip Bar Grips for about two years now have had no issues. Despite some pretty rough treatment like me keeping them in a bag with chains and other rig grips, they still look new.


At $24.99, the Harbinger Big Grip Bar Grips come in at a lower cost than similar products from other companies. This makes it a bargain and something that should be added to any OCR athletes inventory if they ever train with weights.


Harbinger Big Grip Bar Grips are a great tool for improving grip strength. They allow you to turn every strength training exercise into one that places an emphasis of grip strength. If you read my book Mud Run Guide’s Ultra-OCR Bible, you’ll know I’m a fan of this. The grips allow you to make your training both progressive and specific. Progressive since as you get better you’ll typically just grab a heavier weight and specific because these grips make a simple exercise something that works your forearms.

4.5/5 stars

Pictures provided by athletes of the Conquer The Gauntlet Pro Team

Share this post!