Thick barbells were common among old time strongmen. While they had a strong grip, the average person did not. So even with a relatively light weight they would be lifting something the average person couldn’t move off the floor. Grip strength is key among many feats of strength and thick bars are one of the best ways of building it.
This video below shows Eddie Hall continental and pressing the Apollon Axle, for a world record, at 2017 Europe’s Strongest Man competition.
Any exercise done with a normal bar can be done with thick bars although some are more appropriate than others. The video below shows curls, which are significantly harder with a thick grip. This video also shows a 3″ bar. Different thick bars are different sizes. These hit the biceps differently than normal curls, and many people swear by the fact that these can build both bigger and stronger biceps, esialy than just working with a normal bar.
In the following video Rob King discusses some of the benefits of thick bar training, as well as the use of Fat Gripz. These tools can be slipped over any normal barbell, and most dumbbells, to instantly turn them into a thick bar. While there is a certain feel to a thick bar that makes it the ideal choice, these are a cheaper, and still very effective, choice.
There are several other suppliers that produce similar grips, but Fat Gripz were the first, and the ones that I have most used myself.
Of course, there are other ways of making thick bars using PVC pipes or other materials, for even cheaper, as long as you have some handyman skills.
While thick bars can be used for feats of strength, just training with them is a great way to amp of the grip training of any athlete or regular person. If you’ve never experienced thick bar training before, I suggest you give it a shot.