POWER Workout Accessories

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POWER Workout Accessories

 

| By Nassim Jebran |

Many of us have been in the gym training when some muscled up behemoth saunters through the turnstile.  I’m not talking about puffed up, weak, over-inflated muscle; I’m talking about sinewy, grainy, earned-through-years-of-heavy-training-muscle.  This behemoth is armed with a gym bag chock full of accessories; not the kind of accessories that you would find in the gym but all the cool stuff that your gym just doesn’t supply.  I’m talking about all of the different toys that get you thinking “how in the hell do you work out with those?”  You may have also noticed that the person who has all these objects usually is one of the strongest guys in the gym; so he must be doing something right.

Just a friendly heads-up: the training accessories that you’re going to read about are NOT for beginner lifters. If you have less than a year of solid lifting experience, stick to the basics. They will get you further toward your goals than any accessory.  For the rest of us, these will be a nice way to add some excitement to your training and hit your muscles like they’ve never been trained before.  Now, let’s delve into my duffle bag of goodies.

Chains

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Just like Jell-O, there is always room for more iron.  The iron that is already in your gym is not the end of the story; we can add chains to the mix.  I’m not talking about the girlie-man chains you see at your local hardware store, I’m talking about chain that can haul an airplane.  5/8″ chain at about a length of 5 feet is the standard size that true lifting chains come in.  If you want something longer, go to an industrial trucking and towing company – they should be able to provide you with the length you require.  The standard 5 foot chain weighs approximately 20 pounds.  Take a look at the chart below to see how much chain to buy based on your squatting strength.

Squat

Weight

Pounds of Chain

Number of Chains

Less than 200

0 – You’re not strong enough yet

0

200-300

40

2

300-400

80

4

More than 400

120

6

Chains will have the greatest carry over in helping you increase the poundage on your squats, deadlifts and bench press.  To set up, hook the chain onto the ends of the bar and you’re ready to lift. Chains also allow you to hold the heaviest amount of weight in your strongest position (lock out), and the least amount of weight in your weakest position (in the hole).  I am going to use the squat for an example; however, the exact same principles apply for deadlifts and bench press.  Start your squat standing, with the bar on your back and all the chains hanging down.  As you begin your descent, the chains begin to touch the ground making the total weight on your body lighter.  The lower you go, the lighter the weight.  The bottom is where the chains will have little effect on the total weight.  As you start coming back up the chain raises and so does the weight.  This creates a linear progression in the weight you lift in every rep.

Power Workout Accessories

Bottom Position ____________________________________________________________Top Position

Power Bands

Anywhere you use chains, you can use bands but there is a slight difference.  Where chains were a linear progression, bands are exponential.  The more you stretch the band the heavier the weight gets.

Power Workout Accessories - Strong-Athlete.com

Bottom Position _____________________________________________________________Top Position

Bands come in an array of sizes and tensions, ranging from 20 pounds to 400 pounds.  In fact, depending on how you attach them to your lifting apparatus it can increase the tension even more (e.g. double tying the bands).  Their biggest advantage is their size. They are light weight and hit hard! Power bands are a serious must in every lifters gym bag.

Fat Gripz

I think it is safe to say that for almost every upper body exercise, the force you apply gets transferred through your hands.  The stronger your hands, the more force you can apply – translating into more weight you can push.  Here is a challenge. Find a guy at your gym that can bench 500 pounds and shake his hand.  I guarantee you he has a crushing grip!  One of the best ways to increase your grip strength is using a fat bar.  The thickness of the bar puts your forearms in agony.  Think you’re the king of pull-ups? Do some on a fat bar. The first time you try your total number will be cut in half, if not more.  If you cannot hold the weight, you won’t be moving it much.

The problem is most gyms don’t have a fat bar for you to use. This is where Fat Gripz come in!  They turn any bar you use into a fat bar.  Now, I don’t recommend you start using Fat Gripz on every single one of your workouts. You can, but get ready to significantly lower the weight you’re using until your grip strength increases.  Start by incorporating Fat Gripz into your arm days, and then slowly introduce them into back training.  If you start your work out with pull-ups, do a few sets using Fat Gripz then revert back to the regular bar.

Although Fat Grips have the biggest carry over to pulling exercises, it is beneficial to incorporate them into your pressing days as well.  By squeezing the bar as hard as you can you apply more force into your lift. The harder you can squeeze the more force you will be applying.  Fat Gripz force you to squeeze hard – if you don’t you will feel unstable and you risk the bar slipping.  Fat Gripz are one of the best investments you can do for your training. Your whole body will thank you for getting a pair.

Boards

 

Boards are bench press specific.  They are made to help you increase your bench by using a partial range of motion.  The average lifter should have a 1, 2 and 3 board, and you don’t need to dish out a lot of money either.  This is one of the easiest fitness do-it-yourself accessories you will come across:  To build a 1 board – cut a piece of 2×4 approximately 1 foot long.  For a 2 board cut 2 pieces of 2×4 approximately 1 foot long and nail them on top of each other.  I’m not going to tell you how to build the 3 board, I think you can figure that out for yourselves.  To use the boards you will require some assistance. Load up the bar heavier than usual and get a friend to hold the board on your chest.  Now lower the bar and when you touch the board press back up. These are an excellent tool to help you get past your sticking points. The partial range of motion allows you to use weight you couldn’t press for full reps.  Remember, always use the appropriate safety precautions when attempting any of your max lifts!

Weighted Vests

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For all you body weight enthusiasts: I didn’t forget about you.  I am a strong believer that every person should incorporate some body weight exercises into their routine.  An inevitable problem crops up when you get start to get a lot stronger – that challenging body weight exercise feels more like cardio than lifting weights.  Dip belts are a good alternative but they can only be used for pull-ups and dips; we need something more versatile.

Weighted vests come in an array of sizes and are all adjustable.  Weights range from 20 pound vests to over 100 pounds.  If you can afford the 100-pounder get it; you can micro-load it to pretty much create any weight.  Another added bonus is where the weight lies; the vest will strap the weight across your chest and back without changing your centre of gravity.  This is beneficial because it will allow you to move normally, just heavier!  What exercises can you do with a weighted vest?  Pretty much anything you can do without it.

Finally…

Remember, these are tools to add to your fitness tool box. There is no one tool that can do everything.  Many of us weathered, battle tested lifters hit plateaus and can even feel bored.  These tools will not only change up your training, but they will actually help you bust through plateaus and stagnation.  Keep an open mind, open up your wallet and dish out some cash for these accessories.  You won’t regret it!

 

Strong-Athlete.com contributor Nassim JebranNassim Jebran

Nassim Jebran is a strength enthusiast who started lifting at 17.  By utilizing his extreme work ethic and determination, he went from a starting weight of 135lbs. to 190lbs.  He now regularly squats in the 400s and deadlifts in the 500s.  In 2012, Nassim will start competing in Strongman competitions.  In addition to all this, Nassim has an unrelenting thirst for knowledge; obtaining a degree in Engineering and is constantly experimenting with new lifting techniques and programs.  Strength is his passion and we are happy to have him aboard Strong-Athlete.com.

 

 

By |July 20th, 2012|Training|

About the Author:

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Strong Athlete was founded in 2011 by Strength & Conditioning Experts PK Mills and Gaétan Boutin. With over 40+ years of combined experience in sports nutrition, athletics, and fitness, the Strong Athlete team is dedicated to helping athletes achieve their maximum potential through a holistic approach to training, nutrition, and mindset.

3 Comments

  1. Carlos July 20, 2012 at 5:47 PM - Reply

    Grip4orce targets the thumb and forearm development much better….need to try them out. Fgz are good but can see more value and benefits with G4 / good article though NJ Peace bro!

    • Nassim August 14, 2012 at 9:12 AM - Reply

      Carlos, I tried Grip4orce as well. They are good for the fact that you have to squeeze to hold on tight. Issues I found with them were:
      – Sometimes the bar would spin within the grips – happened as well with Fat Gripz but not as much
      – Fat Gripz created a fatter bar – one of the main reasons I like them more
      – Issues I had with both – They are extremely hard to fit on dumbbells

  2. Ed August 16, 2012 at 1:58 PM - Reply

    Nassim,
    I have tried both but never experinced the grip spinning im mu hand on either product. That’s actually a great indicator that your not
    engaging the hands tight. Do prefer the G4 for arm work and fgz for pull movements.

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