competition bells

GeoffreyLevens

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Interesting and valid argument Steve. But...counter point--

What I have found over last few months in working to "get a grip" (hook grip) on my somewhat thicker handled 24 kg, moving up from 16 kg, was that all other aspects of results from my training were lagging because of the grip difficulty. I do not know if it was a neuro-reflex of some kind or just my psychology i.e. subconscious fear off dropping bell, but it was/is very obvious to me that I can't generate the power out of the other parts of my body with weaker grip in place. When I would palm grip the 24 kg I could swing to chest height, even a bit past lower ribs, consistently, every rep, with some explosiveness and gradually but steadily increasing power. Swinging w/ hook grip, even when I would psych up to drop the bell if it happened and really focus on power from posterior chain etc, it just never would happen. I did drop the bell a few times, nearly tossed it through a wall once, but overall was still putting out a lot less work, a lot less power, a lot less energy. Net result over time seemed to be an actual slight weakening of posterior chain and reduced cardiac/aerobic condition. I think in the much longer run I would have ended up at the same place, just with a stronger grip as well, but meh...I can do everything I want to now with my existing grip strength (except hooking the fatter handle) so why bother when I can just have thinner handles? And with the comp bells, I will be able to move up faster in all other aspects of my strength, conditioning, etc.
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
@GeoffreyLevens, my own approach to needing a stronger grip has been pretty simple - if I don't have the grip strength for the kettlebell work I want to do, I switch to barbell deadlifts for a while, and vice versa - the pair seem like a match made in heaven.

-S-
 

GeoffreyLevens

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Excellent work around though I don't have any other equipment than the 2 kb's

Also, waiting grip development w/ my existing set-up at current rate of progress I would estimate another couple months at least to get to where I would be just moving to thinner handle and moving up in kb handle size would still be impossible; I can not imagine getting enough finger tip grip on anything fatter to be functional.
 

MikeTheBear

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@Steve Freides No disagreement from me. My decision to go comp KB goes beyond handle thickness. In fact, I would say the handle thickness played a minimal role in my decision. I like they way they "feel" and "handle" on the snatch and jerk (purely subjective; I can't even really explain why I like the way they handle in these moves), I like that they are all the same size, and I want to do KB meets so it makes sense to train with the same implement used in competitions. I also do deadlifts and supplemental grip work. Even with the thinner handle grip endurance is still an issue, at least for me. The last few years I've focused on the Olympic lifts, so I wouldn't say my grip is weak, but the endurance definitely needs work. While the skill set is somewhat similar, the demands between the two sports are very different.
 

TravisDirks

More than 300 posts
@GeoffreyLevens, my own approach to needing a stronger grip has been pretty simple - if I don't have the grip strength for the kettlebell work I want to do, I switch to barbell deadlifts for a while, and vice versa - the pair seem like a match made in heaven.

-S-
@Steve Freides , I'm having this problem now and think I'll take your advice. I can make my heavy bell fly with a 2h grip, so the power is there, but when I switch to one hand everything shuts down. I only have access to a barbell 2-3x a week, so I'll start doing deads consistently on my variety days. Let me know if you think this middling approach would be unhelpful.
 

GeoffreyLevens

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For me the deed is done i.e. money has changed hands, comp bells are on the way, and should arrive mid next week. I can always switch back sometime if I really want to.
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
@Steve Freides , I'm having this problem now and think I'll take your advice. I can make my heavy bell fly with a 2h grip, so the power is there, but when I switch to one hand everything shuts down. I only have access to a barbell 2-3x a week, so I'll start doing deads consistently on my variety days. Let me know if you think this middling approach would be unhelpful.
@TravisDirks try it and see what you think. For your purpose, even rack lockouts with a solid pause would likely help.

FWIW, in my own training, I don't like mixing DL and volume swings, so I would switch gears completely and just do DL-focused training for 3-6 months before returning to swings.

-S-
 

The Nail

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I bought VF Prograde bells. Smooth stainless steel handles are difficult to hold onto with the one hand swing. Which is why I bought them. A bell is challenging for longer.
Grip strength has always fascinated me. Strengthening grip with modifications to conventional movements allows you to get more mileage out of a given weight. I want to lift all of the weights RIGHT NOW. Tricks like this force me to remember that volume and time with the bell is necessary for improvement. The smooth handles better utilize the big muscles due to the principle of irradiation.

Plus, the handle feels so damn good in your hand.
 
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TravisDirks

More than 300 posts
@TravisDirks try it and see what you think. For your purpose, even rack lockouts with a solid pause would likely help.

-S-
@Steve Freides , following up.

Went for some deadlifts yesterday. I started with 80% of 5RM recommended in PTTP then did 1 set 90% of that on one 80% of that as laid out. It seemed really light on paper, so I added Fat grips to the bar. Here are my notes:
starting pttp cycle. 35lbs bottoms up press between sets.
  • Deadlift 235 with fat grips(fg) x5. Tough, bup x5
  • Dl 215 w/ fgx 4,3 last three without grips. Bupx5 w/ fg
  • Dl 190 w/ fat grips x 5, bupx5 w/fg
  • Dl hold 190 without fg 35 Mississippi, bupx5 w/ fg
  • Dl 190 hold wo/fg 33 Mississippi, bupx5 w/fg
  • Dl 190 hold wo/fg 26 Mississippi.
I made it through, but I couldn't do it with another 10-15 lbs. The Fatgrips felt like they were working more of a pinch grip, rather than a hook. I think tomorrow I'll give it another go, with the bar, no grips and heavier weight. I'll try to rack lockout first.

Thanks
 

King Cobra Fit

Matt - CSEP-CPT, SFG I, FMS I&II
Certified Instructor
I have both "regular Hard style bells" and Comp bells (its actually ridiculous, I have a 45# and a 55# Hard style and pairs of 12K, 16K, 20K and 26K comp bells)
I love the way the Comp bells sit on my wrist in the rack i think its their size and shape the more evenly distributes the weight and the standard distance between the handle and the top of the bell helps too, the fact that they are all the same size is really cool and makes swtiching between bells pretty straight forward.
However, I also love the larger handles on my "Hard style" bells as well that they're slightly smaller in bell size. They also look badass, all black and shiney

On days that i'm training Long Cycle (which is more often these days) i prefer to use my comp bells but if i'm working on strength stuff (ie S&S or ROP) i much prefer the fatter handles and more compact bells. 100 SA swings with my "fat" 55 is challengeing and took some time to fully access my hip power.
Pavel says it in ETK (i think and this is a brutal paraphrase), but if your grip isn't there your body won't let you use all of the power in your hips.

Its totally personal prefrence, and I realise that i'm spoilled with my options but end of the day, if you want a stronger grip, carry, lift and swing heavy things.
 

Harry Westgate

More than 500 posts
Just skim-read this thread, and while I have no experience of comp bells, the advantage of them that people are claiming is that grip no longer is a limiting factor.

However, is it not true that a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link? As such, should we not just improve our grip strength in order to keep progressing, if our grip is where we are weaker?

Just something I thought of while reading through the comments here, and as Steve said (and Pavel has done before), a strong grip and strong abs tends to result in greater overall strength.

:)
 

GeoffreyLevens

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Harry all true. And if grip is such a limiting factor that it impedes building overall strength for the long haul, what then? If you can use heavier weight for more reps then you are stronger I would think. Grip is one factor but perhaps not the only one.

Also, hard not to love those bright, Crayola colors!
 

GeoffreyLevens

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Got my new comp bells and have now used them 4 sessions. I expected to find, and did and slight increase in sensation of "heaviness" since center of mass is further away due to increased size of bell. Esp noticeable on the 24 kg, likely since it is pushing my limits while the 16 kg is pretty easy for me to handle in general. Also have found more difficulty in stabilizing lock out in TGU's and bent presses, maybe since cm is further off center to my arm bones? None of this is dramatic nor unexpected but good in that I will get that much more milage out of same weight kb

Surprising to me though is that despite thinner handle and feeling more "secure" in hook grip i.e. not as if bell could get away from me at any second, I feel significant increase in work load on hand and forearm muscles. Maybe this is from combination of grip geometry and confidence allowing me to swing harder, with more power each rep. At any rate, another good thing!

Overall I am well pleased though rather surprised at how easy it is to knock paint off these kb's! Dropped a bent press on my plywood "floor" and left a rather dramatic green stripe smeared across the wood. Just for the heck of it I am painting all the colored parts today w/ a clear, high gloss urethane to help them keep their "good looks" a bit longer.
 

Ole Gimpy

Double-Digit Post Count
Regarding the new GS handle standard of 35 vs 33 mm I'm wondering how much of a difference 2 mm would make if one had interest in competing in GS, and whether it would be worth saving some $$ on the old 33 mm handle bells that are on sale now because of the change. I suppose if one was a serious competitor instead of a novice or dabbler the answer would probably be different. Personally, however, when I want to do something - even only trying it out - I have a tendency to go all out and dive all the way in even at the beginning so I would probably go for the 35mm. If I could. Someone mentioned KBUSA tho, and their GS 35mm bell has the weight centered towards the top for better center of mass to be more efficient, but I don't know if that design would be smart to train with unless one is certain of using that same design in competition as well...??

The KBUSA cast iron elite line seems to be a bit GS inspired with a thinner and taller handle. However, that design doesn't seem to be overly common for cast iron bells and in comps like the TSC unless those were the bells being used it seems like it might actually be a detriment to optimal performance if one was training with a more efficient design and ended up competing with a less efficient design.

...Then again, although the SF community has it's own strong arguments against it, I must admit the ability to "do more work" before reaching your fatigue limit (whether with a GS or innovative HS style bell) is a hard argument to refute and does have a certain allure that tempts me to want to follow it (but is that because it's effective or my ego wants to show off? So hard to tell sometimes...) haha!
 

MikeTheBear

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Just skim-read this thread, and while I have no experience of comp bells, the advantage of them that people are claiming is that grip no longer is a limiting factor.

However, is it not true that a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link? As such, should we not just improve our grip strength in order to keep progressing, if our grip is where we are weaker?

Just something I thought of while reading through the comments here, and as Steve said (and Pavel has done before), a strong grip and strong abs tends to result in greater overall strength.

:)
You are right, but there are other ways to strengthen your grip. If grip really is the limiting factor then it makes sense to do actual supplemental grip training. I don't know if that's what you meant.

To be honest I've never compared my numbers using a traditional bell and a comp bell so I couldn't tell you how much of a difference it makes. But as I've said before and will say again, grip endurance is still very much a factor in GS even with the comp bell's thinner handle. Of the GS training programs that I've seen, they all add supplemental grip work. I also do supplemental grip work with grippers.
 

MikeTheBear

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@Ole Gimpy If we use 3.14 for Pi then a 33mm diameter handle has a circumference of 103.62 vs. 109.9 for 35mm. That's less than a quarter of an inch. I don't think it will make a difference at all. I suspect the additional 2 mm to the "official" handle was done not to impose a greater grip challenge (because the difference is minimal) but to make the handle more comfortable. A thicker handle can be more comfortable to use because it spreads the load over a slightly larger area while not imposing a grip challenge, within reason of course. For instance, a 3 inch diameter handle would very comfortable as the load is spread over a larger area, but a handle that thick would obviously pose a serious grip challenge. So there is definitely a "Goldilocks" range where the handle is more comfortable while not posing a greater grip challenge. I am just guessing here as I have no idea why they changed the rule. It could be a conspiracy to force competitors to buy new comp bells. ;) But I think several manufacturers had previously made a 35 mm handle and perhaps competitors just liked it better. The previous rule stated that 33 mm was the minimum handle diameter but did not specify a maximum, so a 35 mm was legal in competitions. Yes, I am that nerdy that I read the rules.

If you are interested in competing I'd say get the cheaper bells at 33 mm and do supplemental grip work.
 

Ole Gimpy

Double-Digit Post Count
@Ole Gimpy If we use 3.14 for Pi then a 33mm diameter handle has a circumference of 103.62 vs. 109.9 for 35mm. That's less than a quarter of an inch. I don't think it will make a difference at all. I suspect the additional 2 mm to the "official" handle was done not to impose a greater grip challenge (because the difference is minimal) but to make the handle more comfortable. A thicker handle can be more comfortable to use because it spreads the load over a slightly larger area while not imposing a grip challenge, within reason of course. For instance, a 3 inch diameter handle would very comfortable as the load is spread over a larger area, but a handle that thick would obviously pose a serious grip challenge. So there is definitely a "Goldilocks" range where the handle is more comfortable while not posing a greater grip challenge. I am just guessing here as I have no idea why they changed the rule. It could be a conspiracy to force competitors to buy new comp bells. ;) But I think several manufacturers had previously made a 35 mm handle and perhaps competitors just liked it better. The previous rule stated that 33 mm was the minimum handle diameter but did not specify a maximum, so a 35 mm was legal in competitions. Yes, I am that nerdy that I read the rules.

If you are interested in competing I'd say get the cheaper bells at 33 mm and do supplemental grip work.

Great observation and your "theory" makes a lot of sense to me! I don't have plans to compete yet but it's always a possibility at some point and I like to keep those options open and in mind. :D:rolleyes::rolleyes:
 

Ken Meyer

Double-Digit Post Count
In case anyone is currently looking, Rage Fitness is having a Memorial Day sale on selected items. 32 kg comp bell is $65.00 plus shipping.
 
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