All About the Axle Bar- Weight & Thickness

So your gym equipped itself with a fatter version of the standard Olympic bar recently or maybe your gym already has it and you have no clue as to what it is and how does it work?. Whatever be the case, the fat bar does get you curious, no? If your gym is equipped with one, you’ve wanted to give it a shot. But also, you want to be careful and know about what you’re going to be lifting. After all, no one likes to make a fool out of themselves. If you’re one such curious personality seeking to gather knowledge about the fat bar either before taking it for a spin on your next training day or just for the sake of knowing about it, then stay tuned as your questions about the Axle Barbell gets answered today.

There are 2 questions which instantly strike your mind after looking at an axle bar. First, How thick is an axle bar? Second, How much does an axle bar weigh? The answer to these 2 questions is-

An Axle ‘Fat’ Bar is 2 inches thick in diameter. There are 1.9″ and 2.1″ axle bars available in the market as well. But the one officially used in Strongman competitions is a 2″ axle bar with a weight of 33 lbs/15 kilograms and a length of 7 ft. The axle bar used in strongman competitions needs to be of a certain type with certain properties. These properties have been stated below.


What is an axle bar?

Axle bar is a speciality bar mainly used in various strongman events. Also known as a fat bar, it is thicker than the standard Olympic bar. The axle bar involves greater grip involvement as compared to any other bar. A true axle bar has zero knurlings and is smooth all across. Unlike the Olympic bar, it does not revolve and stays stiff. Its stiff nature alongside its thickness and smoothness are the main reasons the bar requires more grip strength. It is an effective tool for grip strength training and functional strength. Over time the commercial gyms have adopted fat grips and fat bar and more people are now bringing it into their training regimes. Earlier the bar was limited to strongmen only.

In a strongman event, the axle bar is mainly used in 2 events- Axle double overhand deadlift and Axle press. The axle bar previously used in world strongest man events was one with a weight of 33 lbs (15 kilograms), 7 ft length, 2″ diameter and 17″ sleeve on the loading surface. Today axle bars are made in different lengths, diameters and weight. There are axle bars in markets starting from 20 lbs and going up to the weight of the standard Olympic bar which is 44 lbs.

People apart from just strongmen have realised the advantages of using a fat bar. Nowadays axle bar is not just limited to Axle press and Axle deadlift rather it can be substituted for any other exercise involving an Olympic barbell. But there still remains some exercise where an axle bar proves to be more effective than others. These exercises have been talked about below.


Benefits of using an axle bar

Axle bar is harder than any other bar simply because of the fact it is thick, have zero knurlings and it is stiff. Without any knurling maintaining a grip becomes super hard. You have to practically squeeze or crush the bar between your hands in order to grab hold on it and not lose it when performing a lift. Without any whip in the bar and its rigid nature, you have to pick it straight from the floor and the bar does not provide any stability to lift as much weight. Any other barbell offers some flexibility which provides momentum to re-lift the weight from the ground on the second rep. However, once an axle bar touches the ground you have to practically lift it like the first repetition again without any momentum coming from the bar after striking with the ground.

The thickness means you cannot fully wrap your hand around the bar and lock your hands in it. You’ll be holding it partially and will have to rely on the squeeze generated between your palms. Now that you understand how hard it is to use this barbell. We’ll look at some benefits an axle bar training provides-

  • With an axle bar, you’re sure to develop some serious grip strength.
  • An axle bar can help you develop ground strength required during the starting of some lifts like the deadlift, clean and press and barbell rows.
  • The Olympic bar offers some flexibility i.e. it bends when you’re on top of the lift. So when you’re at the top holding the lift the full weight on the bar is not practically what you’re holding and the weighted sides bend down. With an axle bar, there is no bend and when you’re at the top of a lift it is the whole weight you’re holding. Now isn’t that more challenging?
  • Following up with the above point, an axle bar effectively weighs more in totality throughout the lift.
  • An axle bar is a great way to practise lifts with light-weight and more involvement of the muscles.
  • Axle barbell helps you develop shoulder stability because of its instability in managing the weight plates opposes to an Olympic bar.
  • Training with an axle bar will help you reach your goal of getting a road map on your forearms. Simply putting it, your forearm muscles will develop and if you’re lean enough the veins will be out popping.
  • Overall, training with an axle bar can significantly improve your pulling strength.

Exercises with an axle bar

Axle Bar Deadlift

Axle bar deadlifts are performed the same as the normal deadlift. The challenging factor here is holding the weight uptight throughout the movement as there is no rotation in the bar. The exercise is performed in a double overhand position. This exercise greatly challenges your grip strength and your shoulder’s stability with keeping up the weight throughout the movement.

Axle Press

Axle press is performed just like the clean and press. Using an axle bar to train for clean and press helps in increasing efficiency for the standard Olympic weightlifting barbell clean and press. The most challenging part in this lift is to fighting the rotation of the barbell which comes out naturally as the lifter cleans the bar. Maintaining a stronghold here helps with the normal clean and press. Power clean on the other hand with an axle bar will require strenuous strength in the grip.

Axle Curls

The traditional bicep curls with either a barbell or dumbbell puts the work mainly in the bicep muscle only. But incorporating an axle bar when doing bicep curls helps work the arm as a whole. Apart from biceps, muscles surrounding forearms and elbows are worked effectively. This makes the whole bicep curls a challenge as the effort is increased significantly. Again the shoulder stability is put to test here.

Axle Bar Holds

As the name suggests you have to simply hold the barbell standing straight. This movement is the best for building your grip strength. Your grip’s tolerance is tested greatly. Try building up the hold for a longer duration with time. A stopwatch will be a great friend to you during this lift. Mastering this movement will help build your deadlift. Not just deadlift but strongman event’s like farmer’s walk and frame carry require grip endurance and this movement helps practice that exactly.

Axle Barbell Rows

Practising any pulling movement with an axle bar helps develop ground strength. Unlike the Olympic barbell, the weight does not limp when coming to the ground. So the range stays intact and you have to re-lift the weight again from the start using the brute strength generated for the first rep. Your elbow and forearms take extra work they are not accustomed to when using an axle bar. This helps develop new training stimuli. With pulling movements like rows you can not add a lot of weight. So with the lower weight, you can practise the technique effectively without it being too easy on your body.

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