Sometimes the only reason you’re not setting a new record on a lift is because it hurts too damn much. The bench is like a meat grinder on your shoulders and elbows if your form isn’t strict and your training isn’t balanced, and even then, joint pain is sometimes inevitable.

If you can alleviate or prevent this problem, you can bench pain-free and safely for the long term, greatly increasing your chances of breaking personal records.

Thickening the bar you use may do the trick. Standard barbells are only an inch or slightly more in diameter, but adding rubber sleeves like Fat Gripz (shown below) or Grip4orce can increase the thickness to 2¼ inches, so your bar resembles the “fat bars” that powerlifters and strongmen use. This effectively spreads the weight of the bar to the wrists, elbows, and shoulders more evenly, so no one joint bears the brunt of it.

Less strain means safer benching, and no nagging aches that take your mind off training.

Benefits of Being Fat

1. Improved Grip Strength

If you can keep your hands closed around a grip sleeve, a regular barbell will feel like a pencil.

2. More Forearm Activation on Pulling Exercises and Curls.

You won’t have to do as much direct forearm work to see growth in that area.

2. Different Muscle Recruitment.

The change of grip adds a new stimulus to any exercise you’re doing, helping to even out imbalances