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Thick bar


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How do you explain to someone not savvy in our

endeavors what a 'thick bar' is?

Of course, a bar thick to my hand may not be considered

thick to someone whose hand is one inch longer than mine.

So my definition would be that a thick bar means any bar

that when grasped allows the middle finger tip and the tip

of the thumb to just reach each other in contact- the middle

finger and the thumb cannot be side by side to any degree.

This seems to be a fair way to compare- no matter how thick

the bar if each lifter's finger/thumb tips touch in this way, Of

course this would necessitate several thicknesses of bars at

a competiton.

Your thoughts?

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This is a "sucker" question, since hand size differs greatly too!!

When I talk about a thick bar, I'll give the dimensions (i.e., "a 2 inch thick bar" ).  Big difference between say a 2 inch thick bar, and a 3 inch.

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Sir Snott,

It is a serious question. Remember the story John Wood told

about a basketball player friend of his who casually one-hand

deadlifted an Inch replica? His hand was so long that the

Inch handle was not 'thick' to him.

If that basketball player had grabbed hold of a bar whose diameter allowed his fingertips only to touch- as I mentioned,

would he have deadlifted 172?

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Guest Euclid

The thickness of the bar is relative to the size of one's hands.  A 1 3/8 in bar could be considered 'thick' relative to the size of a midgets hands.  A three inch bar grasped by a 7' man might meet the same proportions of the midget comparison.  It is all relative to the size of the hands what is considered 'thick'.  That's why it would be a greater accomplishment for someone say 5' tall with small hands to hoist the Inch compared to someone 7' tall.

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Thick is indeed a relative word.  Roark's definition is a good

one if one wishes to contest crushing strength as opposed

to supporting strength (to borrow from Strossen).  Each

contestant would be at a similar (although by no means

equal) disadvantage.  In this case 'thick' is defined by the

relation of the bar to the contestant's hand.

However, I would guess that 'thick' was originally defined as

anything larger in diameter than a 'standard' bar (whatever

that might have meant).

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100 years ago there was a rule that no lifting bar could be

smaller than 7/8" diameter.

Pudgy & Les Stockton told me that Joe DePietro enjoyed

lifting with Pudgy's specially made olympic bar which has a

1" diameter (instead of 1.1") which made enough of a

difference to Joe that he could lift more. Pudgy still uses that


This discussion will not lead to a change in rules, but hopefully

to an awareness that, just as we can chin on a one inch bar

more reps than on a two inch bar because as the bar diameter

increases less weight can be lifted, so in thick bar, if the bar

diameter remains constant, then the variable becomes hand


Frankly, if Inch could one hand deadlift his 172, as David

Webster believes that he could, then that was an amazing

accomplishment due to Inch's normal sized, or as he preferred

to call them, small sized hands.

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Roark, I like your proposal.  Your definition of a thick bar takes away any hand size advantage and makes it purely a test of grip strength.  I like it.

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that is a very good definition of a thick bar roark, and a good idea.  the only problem is it doesn't seem to be very feasible for competition.  how do you get enough bars so that every person has one where his middle finger and thumb just touch?  you could group people with similar hand sizes together and say have a 2" bar for smaller ones, 2 1/2" for medium, and 3" for large.  but even then you run into the problem of some people having an advantage.  it would be like a wrestling or weightlifting tournament, those higher in the weight class have the advantage over lower ones.

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Thanks, terminator.

The chart we offer at Iron History on thick bar/hand size is

helpful (hopefully).

If your hand length is 7.50", that happens to be the circumference of the original (not the replica) Inch bells. But

obviously hand length is not all 'usuable' because only that length from fingertip to the valley of the thumb and index finger can be used in grasping a round object. So a 7.5" hand

does not encircle the Inch handle.

But Apollon's 9" hand would allow for the finger/thumb touch

we have been discussing. What an advantage!

So, unless we are dealing with Edward Aston's brother whose

fingers were all the same length, bar diameter matters, just as

arm length matters when trying to bearhug the round stones in the strongman competitions.

Underdawg:It is probably unrealistic to think many diameter bars will be on

hand at competitons, but it is easy enough for each of us to

determine what our thumb/middle finger touch bar circumference is, then use that size bar in training.

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The easiest way (for those who do not like math) would be to go to a hardware store where many different sizes of pipe are offered. Find one that just fits within your grasp and measure it.

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A very worthy topic Roark.  

You said, "Of course this would necessitate several thicknesses of bars at a competiton."

Without opening the whole can of worms again, I think that this is where the validity and use of formulas may be implemented in a grip contest.  Bars of many different thicknesses would be unnecessary then.  It's no secret that a large hand size is a tremendous asset in grip training- and not just with thick bar work either.  For example, I think that plate pinching with large hands creates more advantage than pinching with smaller hands.  Larger hands will cover more surface area of the plates, creating greater friction.

How formulas for these kinds of events would be determined is beyond me, as the variables are many.


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