When it comes to health and hotness, we know that creating a full-body strength stimulus is one of the best tools that we have is getting stronger. Strength is a skill that can be developed like anything else, from cultivating concentration to practicing putting. Strength is a skill, and a skill that you can learn. It’s rare to somebody who is strong who doesn’t have an appreciable amount of muscle mass. It’s often that people who lack requisite strength also lack muscle mass. Your body likes homeostasis, and so it won’t change without adequate stimulus.
All too often, we skip the strength/movement learning curve and progress ourselves to exercises that we think we need to do, or think are more important. As a beloved bro-science example, let’s look at the arms.. Cause ‘eryone loves big arms, yo!
Bicep curls are one of the most popular exercises in the gym, and rightfully so as few exercises can develop arm size as well as curls. Those ‘few’ exercises include most pulling exercise that includes your hands, so unless you’re looking to step on stage at Olympia, you should question your dedication to pulling before you focus on lifting tempo and the variations for hitting your favorite part of the arm.
As a quasi-universal rule, you’re going to see appreciable hypertrophy gains if you make appreciable strength gains. So where do we start? I’m all about dem deadlifts and chins.
I snapped that screenshot off of Fitocracy because I was super-duper excited about it. Deadlifts and chin-ups are two of my favorite exercises for overall awesomeness, strength, and hypertrophy. Fat Gripz are one of my favorite tools for augmenting those exercises to create an arm emphasis before including isolation work. Let’s get into the tomfoolery.
Big arms begin with the hands. You can’t hold the bar. You can’t grasp the bar. You need to crush the bar as if letting go will kill you. Make that bar your bitch.
Once we’re moving through our workout and our hands are getting sweaty, grip can become an issue. You wouldn’t want to wrestle an oiled pig, so why wrestle a sweaty bar?
Get yourself a good ol’ block of chalk to keep those hands dry and enable stronger lifts. If you’re in a facility that frowns upon chalk clouds, or what I like to call “Strength Snow”, then get yourself some liquid chalk or tacky so that you can get a grip.
Got dat grip? Sweet. Now let’s roll on to to my most favorite upper body exercise of all time, the pull-up. You may be thinking, “Harold, should I use an overhand grip, or an underhand grip, or a parallel grip?”
You may be privledged enough to have rotating handles or rings, but most of us won’t have access. That’s cool; varying your hand position on a regular basis can help you prevent any overuse injuries that may develop from relying on a single hand position. We like getting stronger, but we don’t like getting strains or sprains, right?
Most gyms have straight bars that are attached to the tops of squat racks or across those awful cable cross-over machines. Those are a perfect place for overhand and underhand grip pull-ups, but it makes parallel grip variations a wee-bit tricky. Why don’t you pick up your own Iron Gym to use as a combination hanging rod and multi-grip pull-up station.
You’ve done your deadlifts, and you’ve pumped out pull-ups. Those arms are feeling strong, but you’re craving closer attention to the gun-show. Enter Fat Gripz.
Fat Gripz are probably one of my favorite ‘toys’ to include in the serious training arsenal. A simple rubber clip-on handle, they can make almost any exercise a doubly demanding variation that will instantly turn your forearms into your weakest link. They make a ‘regular’ Fat Gripz model, as well as a Fat Gripz Extreme version, in case you’d like things to be doubly difficult:
Why is this a good thing? Because weak links are forced to become stronger. My preference on Fat Gripz is on higher-rep RDL’s, Parallel Grip Pull-Ups, and Hammer Curls. Here’s why:
You’ll be handling significantly less weight on your RDL’s than you will on regular deadlifts, and we usually employ RDL’s for higher rep ranges than we’ll use for conventional deadlifts. The Fat Gripz can also significantly reduce the load you can use for a deadlift, so rather than setting for really light Fat Gripz deadlifts, we’ll maintain loads closer to your typical training loads, with rep ranges that allow the time-under-tension necessary for forearm hypertrophy. Your grip will suffer, but your deadlift wont. #Winning!
When it comes to upper-body pulling, using a neutral grip for both the pull-up and the hammer curl allows the forearm to do the most work while pulling. The hand position already provides an advantage for your arm to do work, while the Fat Gripz accentuates this position by making your arms call you an asshole. Seriously; Fat Gripz will make your arms hate you.
You want bigger arms? You’re not alone; it’s one of the biggest goals in the fitness industry. There are many paths that lead to Rome, and I urge you to take the one that’s not just the scenic route. Focus on developing strength, and hypertrophy will follow with proper nutrition.
Once you’re destroying deadlifts and conquering chin-ups, throw some Fat Gripz on the bar. Once you’ve taken care of that, include the Minimal Effective Dose of curling. You’ll feel better, perform better, and look better.