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Best Barbell and Dumbbell Lifting Grips – Addressing the Fat Gripz Hype

Grip is one of the most underrated facets of strength training, but in recent years Fat Gripz, one of the best lifting grips companies around, reignited the debate about thick bars, and generated massive hype in the fitness industry.

The product and its function are simple: Snap onto any dumbbell or barbell and instantly use it as a thick bar. This is a momentous tool for building muscle, as the benefits of a thick bar are significant, proven, and endorsed by the majority of fitness experts.

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Related: Best Lat Pulldown Machine Choices

While Fat Gripz was the first to the market with their popular thick bar simulator, numerous other thick grips are of high quality as well, and can provide just as reliable of an arm workout with subtle differences in design.

After looking through the known advantages, why they’re effective, and how the various brands are different, you may be ready to add a pair of thick grips to your own home gym.

How Important Is the Grip in Bodybuilding?

Poor grip is among the most common causes of injury while weight lifting. When we’re sweaty and lifting heavy weights on a smooth, metal bar, the conditions are right for an impromptu slippage. Granted barbells and other weights often have some degree of knurling to enhance grip, but accidents still happen.

Another advantage of a strong grip is that a harder grip engages more muscles through a process known as radiant tension. If grip is a concern for you when lifting, gloves are available that can help, although lifting grips also ensure an excellent grip if you’re down for a more challenging arm workout. Ultimately, it’s easy to see why a strong, reliable grip is vital to an effective lifting session.

Thick Handled Barbells and Dumbbells

Free weights that have handles which are thicker than normal are not a super common type of fitness gear, but gyms with hardcore powerlifters and professionals are likely to have them. When barbells were invented by George Barker Windship in 1865, variations that were ideal for certain workouts soon followed.

Among these, thick handled versions became popular among competitors in Strongman events, with some thick barbells weighing as much as 135 pounds (61 kg). Now in 2017, anyone who cares about building strong arms can use thick handled barbells or dumbbells to take their gains to new heights.

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What Are Lifting Grips?

Authentic thick handled free weights are not only rare, but they’re expensive, and not that many companies manufacture them. Luckily for those who care about strength training, lifting grips were invented which can convert any dumbbell, barbell, or other bars to thick handled weights.

Popularized by Fat Gripz, the initial company to release thick grips that attach to free weights, lifting grips are now available from dozens of companies. Reasons to explore these alternative brands of thick grips include lower prices, different designs, and a variety of sizes and materials.

Related Research

Athletics and fitness are big money industries, so anytime a new product is making an impact, a lot of colleges scramble to do research on it, shedding light on whether the hype is real. In the case of strength training with thick grips, studies have been done that show positive effects in certain, specific situations.

Regardless of only a moderate amount of research, the issue of whether thick grips are effective is not controversial, as they’ve been embraced by the top companies, bodybuilders, and professional athletes. Aside from the various research and opinions that exist on the use of thick grips, reading about the concept of irradiation is the best way to understand why they are effective.

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Why Should You Own a Pair

Separate from their benefits of actually using them, thick grips are a solid, viable value to add to almost anyone’s home gym. While many fitness products like foam rollers may go unused because they deal with one aspect of fitness, thick grips are useful for anyone who regularly does strength training.

There are no extra techniques or skills you need to know for thick grips, you simply clip them around your favorite lifting gear. Here are a few reasons why purchasing a pair of thick grips is a great value for your home gym.

Instantly Adds Variable Workouts to Your Collection

The fact that thick grips snap onto any dumbbell, barbell, kettlebell, or handle means they essentially double the workout potential of your home gym. There may be some workouts that you want to do with a normal grip, and the ability to add and remove the thick grip in an instant makes them extremely convenient.

Doing sets of dumbbell curls with a normal grip and with a thick grip are different experiences, and simply owning a pair of thick grips adds a lot more strength training options to your home gym.

Thick Grips Are Remarkably Inexpensive

While buying barbells that are already thick would cost hundreds of dollars, you can purchase a pair of attachable thick grips for just $15-40. With the vast array of thick grips costing less than $20, the value provided by thick grips is pretty impressive.

Combine this with the fact that most thick grips come with a lifetime warranty, and it’s clear that thick grips are a worthy purchase for anyone who regularly does strength training.

Arguably the Best Way to Build Forearms

Along with chest, abs, and glutes, forearms are a highly-desired muscle to build for a lot of people, particularly men. To work the forearms, wrist curls and grips are standard exercises, but using thick grips opens up a whole new world of effective options for working your forearms.

All of your favorite arm workouts, from preacher curls to behind the head triceps lifts, can be done while using thick grips, and the extra grip area does a lot to engage smaller muscle groups.

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Three Main Benefits of Weightlifting Grips

While it’s true that the fitness industry sees a lot of gimmicky products, lifting grips are the real deal for building arm muscles. With positive reviews for almost all thick grips available on the market, in addition to legitimate research supporting their benefits, there is ample evidence to show that thick grips are a worthwhile investment.

In addition to the primary advantages listed, thick grips are also inexpensive, convenient, and versatile since they attach instantly to just about any free weights or machine handle.

More Muscles Are Engaged, Resulting in More Gains

The reason thick grips are better for building arm muscle is due to a concept called irradiation. When we grasp a thicker free weight, more muscles in the forearm, triceps, and biceps are being engaged than just doing the workout with a normal bar.

A simple way to see irradiation in action is to flex your bicep without a tight fist, and then see how making a tight fist allows you to flex even harder. The thicker grip provided by Fat Gripz and other attachable lifting grips employs irradiation in a positive way, resulting in more muscles worked, and bigger gains.

Reliable Grip Improves Control and Safety

Along with providing a more inclusive workout for your arm muscles, using a thick grip makes weight lifting safer and gives you better control. The materials used to make thick grips include food grade silicone, high-density rubber, and others that are designed to minimize slipping. You’ll also notice that controlling the movement of the free weight is easier with a thick grip attached, which is excellent when trying to perfect your technique.

Wrist and Skin Protection

The high-quality materials used in attachable thick grips make it less likely that you’ll injure your skin or wrist. Thick bars have a similar diameter as many attachable lifting grips, but are still made of metal that can cause calluses.

Conversely, thick grips are made of rubber or silicone variants, meaning they’re more flexible, and also better for your skin. Many thick grips list their injury prevention and skin protecting properties as a prime selling point, and they are a notable tertiary benefit.

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Are There Risks Associated with Using Them?

Rather than a completely different piece of gear that poses its own risk, attachable thick grips actually do a lot to mitigate risk of mistakes and injuries. Before using them, one might think it’s possible for thick grips to slip, or worse yet, fall off during a workout.

Obviously that would be disastrous, but it’s a problem that thick grip manufacturers have planned for. The problem is solved because of the high density rubber and food grade silicone that comprises the thick grips does not allow for slipping of any kind. Thick grips are designed to be user friendly, and are very easy to simply pry open, and snap on to any piece of fitness gear that uses a fitting handle.

10 Highest Rated Lifting Grips Reviewed

Whether you prioritize a unique style, excellent value, or a cool brand, there are a nice variety of thick grips on the market. While Fat Gripz are the originators and the best known, many alternatives are less expensive while still delivering a top quality product.

One example of an alternate thick grip with massive value are the Ninja Grips, which include two grips and an adjustable hand strengthener for a very low price.

If you want a cool design to spice up your home gym, then the Bear Level 1 Girth Grips have multiple color options and a savage, animalistic design that has looks significantly different than the rest. Whichever thick grips you decide to try, almost all of them have top-notch purchasing options, so it’s highly-likely to be a safe and smart investment for your home gym.


#10 – Thick Bar Grips by Fitness 343

Highlights

  • Designed for Strengthening Grip
  • Diamond Shaped Rivets Enhance Grip
  • Attaches to Any and All Pull-up Bars, Dumbbells, and Barbells
  • 100% Money Back Guarantee
  • Light Grey Color with Mild Rivets 

Key Factors

Built to last a lifetime, the light grey Thick Bar Grips by Fitness 343 are a strong competitor for Fat Grips. Aside from being half the price, these Thick Bar Grips also come with a unique riveted texture to improve grip.

The purchasing options are as good as it gets, with a 100% guarantee of a refund if necessary. Ready to clamp onto your favorite barbell, dumbbells, or other fitness bar, the Thick Bar Grips are a nice alternative to other, more famous brands.

Who Makes It?

The Thick Bar Grips are the only product offered by Fitness 343, but that shouldn’t be a turn off. Advantages to buying from a smaller retailer include better service and prices, both of which are evident in this product.

Bottom Line

These Thick Bar Grips are unique because of their subtle look and diamond texture, and are more affordable than most leading brands.

#9 – Ninja Grip

Highlights

  • Includes Two Thick Grips + a Hand Strengthener
  • Attaches to Most Dumbbells, Kettlebells, Barbells, and Other Bars
  • Hand Strengthener is Adjustable from 22-88 pounds
  • 100% Money Back Guarantee
  • Black Thick Grips with Yellow and Black Hand Strengthener 

Key Factors

The Ninja Grip thick grips are black with the logo imprinted on them, and at 2.2 inches in diameter, they fit just about all fitness bars. Rather than a basic gripper, the extra Ninja Grip hand strengthener is pretty advanced, and actually allows you to adjust the resistance level with the use of a dial.

Both pieces of gear from Ninja Grip are phenomenal for building forearm muscles, and come at a low price with an excellent customer satisfaction guarantee. It’s also notable that even with a relatively big name, great reviews, and the extra hand strengthener included, the price for The Ninja Grip is very low in comparison to most brands.

Who Makes It?

Ninja Fitness is the company behind this excellent thick grip and hand strengthener combination. Although their website is simple and Ninja Grip appears to be their only product, it is evident that Ninja Fitness put a lot of meticulous effort into the design of their Ninja Grip product. This is clear from their adjustable hand strengthener, as well as the detail that went into their thick grips.

Bottom Line

For an excellent alternative to the leading brand, The Ninja Grip packs massive value, including two thick grips and a well-made hand strengthener to take your arm strength to the next level.

#8 – Bear Level 1 Girth Grips

Highlights

  • Focuses on Enhancing Biceps, Triceps, and Forearms
  • Designed to be Used with Any Barbell or Dumbbell Exercise
  • Builds Smaller Muscles Through the Concept of Irradiation
  • Highly Durable and Designed to Last
  • Available in Two Styles: Blue and Black, and Red and Black 

Key Factors

Featuring a wild, animalistic design that sets them apart aesthetically, the Bear Level 1 Girth Grips are made to fit all of your favorite free weights.

They work through the concept of irradiation, meaning that larger contractions of muscles engage surrounding, smaller muscle groups as well. The material is durable, designed to last through being clutched and slammed throughout numerous workouts. For those who want thick grips that look a bit more savage than most competitors, the Bear Level 1 Girth Grips are an ideal choice.

Who Makes It?

Bear Strength and Conditioning is the company behind Level 1 Girth Grips. Their product lines mostly pertain to weight lifting accessories, including a unique looking barbell pad for squats, heavy duty wrist straps, and knee sleeves for power lifters. The coloring and design of their Level 1 Girth Grips really stand out, even among their own products.

Bottom Line

The Bear Level 1 Girth Grips offer the mandatory benefits of a thick grip but with a different design that is all their own.

#7 – Gorilla Gripz – The Thick Bar Simulator

Highlights

  • Material: High Density Silicone
  • Attaches and Detaches in Seconds
  • Designed to Never Slip
  • 100% Customer Satisfaction Guarantee
  • Available in Two Sizes or Colors: Grey and Green 

Key Factors

With sizes to accommodate both adults and children, Gorilla Gripz are a legitimate thick bar simulator designed to build your arm muscles at a faster rate. While the grey version is pretty standard looking, the green variation is bright and really stands out.

A notable benefit of Gorilla Gripz is that it’s designed with a focus on ergonomics, which ensures that it grips well and has a non-slip quality. The high-density silicone is made to last a long time, and there is a 100% refund option if you have any issues.

Who Makes It?

Originally established in 2001, Gorilla Gripz has been run by Russel Pearcy in the UK since 2009. Pearcy was a fan of the product himself when he took over, and continues the company’s tradition of top notch quality and service. The Gorilla Gripz blog discusses various personal fitness stories, including training for a triathlon and the story of their move to the United Kingdom from the US.

Bottom Line

With a no questions asked money back policy and an emphasis on ergonomics, Gorilla Gripz is a solid product for those who want huge arms.

#6 – Dreampark Thick Bar Grips

Highlights

  • Helps Prevent Calluses on the Hands
  • Comprised of Food-grade Silicone
  • Designed to be Indestructible
  • 100% Money Back Guarantee
  • Bright Green Color 

Key Factors

Non-toxic and made from food grade silicone, the Thick Bar Grips by Dreampark are made to build your forearms and other arm muscles beyond lifting alone.

The light green coloring makes them stand out more than most, and the diamond pattern carved in them will enhance grip. Extra attention was paid to injury prevention, and the material is ideal for keeping your hands from developing callus tissue. The grip is 2” exactly, which is enough to engage your various arm muscles and stimulate growth.

Who Makes It?

Dreapark is the company who makes the aforementioned Thick Bar Grips. Their only other product is a pair of barbell collars with a quick release feature. Both of their products feature bold colors and innovative features that make them legitimate competitors to the more popular, leading brands.

Bottom Line

If you want to try an alternative thick grip with bright colors and a material that will minimize callus tissue, then the Thick Grips by Dreapark are a solid value.

#5 – Fat Gripz Extreme

Highlights

  • Massive Grip Size: 2.75 Inches
  • Designed as an Advanced Thick Grip
  • Toughest Material Available
  • The Most Well Known Brand
  • Bright Orange/Red Color with Brand Info Imprinted 

Key Factors

Recommended only for those who have mastered the original version of Fat Gripz, Fat Gripz Extreme has a wider grip that may simply be too challenging for a lot of people. Obviously hand size will play a role here, and those with huge hands will very likely be more compatible with the extreme variation.

Although the difference is only a fraction of an inch in diameter, it feels significant when lifting, and so it’s advised to have experience with thick grips before purchasing. Regarding the grips themselves, they’re a bright reddish color with Fat Gripz.com inscribed on their surface.

Who Makes It?

Fat Gripz is the most well-known company in the business of thick grips. They started it all, and among the advice they give on their website, they specify that you shouldn’t try any counterfeit brands.

If they are higher quality rather than just being first, their price reflects it, as they have the most expensive of all thick grips on this list. However, there is value in being the first and most well-known, and many will get a lifetime of value out of a pair of top quality Fat Gripz.

Bottom Line

If you’re already confident in the use of basic thick grips and you think you’re ready for an additional challenge, then Fat Gripz Extreme is the thing to take your arm workouts to the next level.

#4 – Alpha Grips by Iron Bull Strength

Highlights

  • Patented Ergonomic Design
  • Uses Finger Grooves for Enhanced Grip
  • Designed to Last Forever
  • Warranty Never Expires
  • Available in Three Sizes and Multiple Colors Per Size 

Key Factors

One remarkable advantage that sets the Alpha Grips by Iron Bull Strength apart from their competitors is more variety in gripping surfaces. Not only are there finger grooves to improve performance, but indentations are ingrained for ideal positioning.

Also notable is that there are three sizes for beginner, mid-level, and advanced lifters respectively, with each interval increasing by a half inch in diameter from 2-3”. As far as a meticulous look that brings a lot of individuality to the product, the Alpha Grips are a phenomenal option for those who want an alternative thick grip.

Who Makes It?

Based in Quebec, Canada, Iron Bull Strength is completely dedicated to bodybuilding gear and accessories. Their product lines include Cross Fit equipment, lifting equipment, and accessories such as Alpha Grips. For free weights themselves or accessories like a gliding disc or weight belt, Iron Bull Strength has you covered.

Bottom Line

Alpha Grips have rivets for your fingers and come in multiple sizes, so getting a tough workout for your arms is easier than ever. With options for 2, 2.5, or 3 inch diameter grips, lifters of all skill levels can find an Alpha Grip that works for them.

#3 – Yes4All Extreme Grips

Highlights

  • Uses Non-slip Grips
  • Measures 4.7 Inches Long and 2.2” Diameter
  • Material: High Density Rubber Compound
  • 60-Day Free Return Option
  • Appearance is Blue with Brand Name Ingrained 

Key Factors

These Extreme Grips by Yes4All are a simple yet solid alternative to pricier brands. At 2.2” diameter, they increase the grip size of any dumbbell, barbell, cable handle, or kettlebell that will fit them, and improve the muscle building effect of the entire arm. Designed to not slip, Extreme Grips will also flex back to size if smashed.

Who Makes It?

Unlike many of the companies discussed on this list, Yes4All is an online retailer who sells a huge array of different products. These include fitness gear, but also include pet supplies, health products, and electronics, among others. To spice up your home gym, check out their dumbbells, Yoga gear, and other fitness equipment.

Bottom Line

Ultimately a very simple and unremarkable thick grip, Extreme Grips by Yes4All are made of high-quality rubber and will enhance your upper body workouts.

#2 – Shark Grips

Highlights

  • Measures 4” Long and 2” in Outer Diameter
  • Comprised of Food Grade Silicone
  • Builds Arm Muscles and Prevents Injury
  • No Questions Asked 100% Money Back Guarantee
  • Available in Blue with Brand Imprinted 

Key Factors

An excellent size for beginners, Shark Grips are a reliable thick grip that will enhance all of your arm workouts. Food grade silicone is the material used here, and combined with the diamond shaped rivets and brand name imprinted on the surface, the grip is very tough and non-slipping.

With a simple opening and closing around your favorite lifting equipment, Shark Grips provide a reliable way to amplify your favorite biceps and triceps workouts.

Who Makes It?

Shark Grips is the company that sells their namesake thick grip product from Amazon.com. Their website details the benefits you’ll get from using Shark Grips, and their discounted price amounts to about 70% the price of the leading brand. Photos on their site show Shark Grips being used on the handles of an exercise machine, as well as free weights and other gear, highlighting their versatility.

Bottom Line

With a cool name and distinct design, Shark Grips are a valid alternative to the more expensive main brand of thick grips.

#1 – Fat Gripz – Ultimate Arm Builder

Highlights

  • Scientifically Proven to Lead to Strength Gains
  • Builds Forearm Strength
  • Used by Law Enforcement and Olympic Lifters
  • Military Grade Material
  • Available in Blue 

Key Factors

The first brand to popularize thick grips and the reason for all of the hype in the fitness industry, Fat Gripz have established themselves as the ultimate arm builder.

Touting near-perfect reviews from sites ranging from Rogue Fitness to Amazon.com, Fat Gripz are absolutely the real deal for anyone who wants to see gains in arm muscle. Measuring 2.2” in diameter, the original Fat Gripz provides enough of an enhancement to engage a greater number of arm muscle. Brand info is inscribed on the product, but the material should be enough to ensure a solid grip.

Who Makes It?

Like many on the list, the company responsible for Fat Gripz shares its name with their best-selling product. For those who master the original variation of Fat Gripz, the company sells an extreme version that is even thicker. For info on Fat Gripz and why thick bars work in general, their website has commentary and reviews from a wide variety of athletes, ranging from SWAT trainer, Will Brink, to Cross Fit expert, Dmitry Klokov.

Bottom Line

With recognition from all of the top companies and people in the strength training industry, Fat Gripz are the first and very well may be the best of all available thick grips.

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Wrapping Up

A certain percentage of people feel a need to go with the original, choosing to see other products that come after as imposters. While those people are going straight for the Fat Gripz, you may be able to find a pair that better matches your needs, budget, or style.

While all products on the list accomplish the same purpose, other brands have interesting color combinations that might be pretty attractive in your home gym. Another reason someone may opt for an alternate brand is the different texturing and materials used.

Since all of the products are aimed at enhancing your arm growth, best of luck trying a thick bar, and taking your workouts to new levels of intensity.

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