Steve Jeck's From the Quarry

Barbell Plate Complex

 

John Brookfield's Grip Tips

 

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By John Brookfield

Author of Mastery of Hand Strength, Revised Edition, Training with
Cables for Strength,
The Grip Master’s Manual, and Real-World Conditioning 


Barbell Plate Complex

In this month's Grip Tip, we will look at a simple yet effective way to work your grip and your upper body.  It is always a good thing to kill two birds with one stone when it comes to training.  With the barbell plate complex you work your upper body by moving through several traditional exercises wtih a barbell plate—and develop your hands and wrists at the same time. There are many complexes that can be done, but to make it simple, let's look at one pattern or complex of exercises in particular.

Throughout the barbell plate complex you will be using the pinch grip style. You can train both hands at once; however, I suggest training one hand at a time—that way, you can work one side and then let it rest while working the other side. Using this method, you will also be able to keep a constant flow going.

To start, choose a weight that will work for you for the complex. You will need to experiment a bit, but you may want to try a 25-lb. plate to start. Grasp the plate with one hand in a traditional pinch grip position, with your thumb on one side and your four fingers on the other. Start to curl the plate in the traditional fashion; do 5 or 6 reps.

John Brookfield starts the barbell plate complex by doing traditional curls with a 25-lb. barbell plate. IronMind | Photo courtesy of John Brookfield.
John Brookfield starts the barbell plate complex by doing traditional curls with a 25-lb. barbell plate. IronMind® | Photo courtesy of John Brookfield.


While still pinch gripping the plate, clean it to shoulder height and do 5 or 6 overhead presses with it.

John moves directly from curling the plate to pressing it overhead.  Concentrate on keeping a good grip on the plate. IronMind | Photo courtesy of John Brookfield.
John moves directly from curling the plate to pressing it overhead.  Concentrate on keeping a good grip on the plate. IronMind® | Photo courtesy of John Brookfield.


Bring the plate back down to the deadlift position and do 5 or 6 upright rows.  By now you will understand how this training complex works. You will also know if the 25-lb. weight plate is the right weight or whether you will need to lighten or increase the load.

Finish the barbell weight complex with upright rows. By this time you should know whether or not a 25-lb. barbell plate is the right weight for you. You can do this complex for strength or for endurance. IronMind | Photo courtesy of John Brookfield.
Finish the barbell weight complex with upright rows. By this time you should know whether or not a 25-lb. barbell plate is the right weight for you. You can do this complex for strength or for endurance. IronMind® | Photo courtesy of John Brookfield.


In working these three exercises in the complex, you can cycle through repeatedly with one hand until you are fatigued, or you can go through the complex once and then move to your other hand and do the same complex routine, trading back and forth between hands. It is up to you whether you want to work on strength and go heavy, or work on endurance by doing more reps and cycles of the complex. Concentrate on keeping a good grip on the plate throughout the complex.

These three exercises will work your wrists and hands from different angles throughout the movements. Once you get used to this complex training, you can experiment with other exercises and variations. The main thing is to implement the training and push yourself on the complex—and enjoy the results in your sport or battlefield.

 




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Editor's note:  John Brookfield’s books Mastery of Hand Strength, Revised Edition, The Grip Master’s Manual, Training with Cables for Strength, and Real-World Conditioning combine John’s limitless creativity with his friendly, downhome manner. John’s articles are also regularly featured in MILO: A Journal for Serious Strength Athletes.

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