Category Archives: Fitness & Nutrition product review

Fitness Product Review: Rogue Bella Bar

This is part of a new blog series: fitness and nutrition product reviews. If you’re wondering why I’m doing this series, or how I’m choosing what to review, what my review standards are, and whether I am involved in affiliate programs for them, head over here for the answers: EV Fitness and Nutrition Product Reviews.

Fitness and Nutrition Product Review:

Bella Bar

Bella Bar from Rogue

  • EVR (Elsbeth Vaino Rating): 10 DB (out of 10)

Description: (from the product website)

“The Bella Bar is our go-to multipurpose 15kg barbell for female athletes. Designed with versatility in mind, it’s uniquely optimized for Olympic lifting, powerlifting, and/or a CrossFit WOD.

A staple of women’s CrossFit competitions– including events at the CrossFit Games– the 25mm Bella Bar features Rogue signature Dual Knurl Marks with no center knurl, and a hybrid knurling pattern for a firm but comfortable grip on both Powerlifts and Olympic lifts. The bar’s high quality bronze brushings provide a reliable spin, and unlike some lesser women’s barbells, the Bella Bar has enough whip for regular use in Olympic weightlifting.

Made in the USA and built with as much attention to detail as any bar in the Rogue family, the Bella Bar is a women’s weightlifting bar forged on equal ground.”

What I like about the product:

  • The 25 mm diameter. I went looking for a woman’s bar after hearing “I don’t like deadlifts” from female clients who are ordinarily eager and excited about their training. In each case when I asked why, it was because they had a hard time holding the bar. We moved to straps, but it still didn’t feel great for many. Then I made the connection: women generally have smaller hands than men. It makes sense if you think about it, particularly for women who are a bit, um, less tall. A 5’2″ woman using a regular 28.5mm bar for deadlifts is about the equivalent of a 6’0″ man using fat grips for deadlifts. You’ll get a great grip workout, but would you really use fat grips for ALL of your deadlifts? Of course not – you’d be losing out on so much posterior chain development. So why do we have people with smaller hands lift with the same diameter bar?
  • I also love this bar for men with smaller hands. Or I should say, for those who are man enough to know that their small hands are not a sign of anything other than that they have small hands.
  • Since bringing the bar into the gym, every single person who previously told me they didn’t like deadlifts started to love them. Every single one.
  • Other than the diameter, the bar is well, great. I have used it myself and with my clients for deadlifts, squats, cleans and snatches. I don’t use it with bench press as often, mainly because I still only have one Bella bar in the gym, and odds are someone else is using it for deadlifts or Olympic lifts, but when I get another, I’ll use it for more bench as well.

hands

 

What I don’t like about the product:

  • The bar weighs 35 lbs, and it seems that my brain is permanently wired with weight math based on a 45 lb bar. This means I sometimes set the bar up for myself or a client with what I think is one weight, but is actually 10 lbs lighter. I even added a piece of red tape in the middle of the bar with “35#” written on it. Adding that tape words pretty well when I’m coaching as I tend to notice it before someone has already done their set, but I keep forgetting when I’m lifting – often remembering on the last set. It kind of amuses me that I am having this simple math issue, I mean, I used to be an electrical engineer! Maybe another sign this was a good career move?

Final thoughts:

I rarely like something completely. There’s usually something I don’t like about it, but not here. Yes, I complained about the weight, but really, that’s a problem with my mental faculties, not with the bar. It’s pretty tough to have a smaller bar that weighs the same as the larger bar. Yes I did retain at least something from being an engineer.

In fact I like the bar so much that it makes me think of a Tracy Morgan quote from his Tracy Jordan character on 30 Rock:

I love it so much, I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant“.

(yes, I realize that makes no sense coming from a woman, but I think hilarity prevails.)

How to buy:

Buy the Bella bar from Rogue using my affiliate link

Buy the Bella bar from Rogue directly (no affiliate link)

 

Note: For each product I review, I provide links to help you purchase the product should you wish to. In the event that I really like a product, and there is an affiliate program, I provide two links – one affiliate link and one direct link. If I don’t like a product, I will only include a direct purchasing link. If I like the product but there is no affiliate program, I will also only include a direct link (too obvious?).

If you’re wondering about this affiliate stuff, give this post a read. I hope you’ll agree that it’s reasonable that I do this, and that you trust that I value my integrity too much to ever let an affiliate option cloud my judgement. If you don’t support the concept of the affiliate links, but want to buy a product that I’ve reviewed, I have included an affiliate-free link for you.

 

Other Fitness and Nutrition Products Reviewed:

Supplement Reference Guide (Examine.com)

True Grip Trainer

 

Fitness Product Review: True Grip trainer

This is the second in a new blog series: fitness and nutrition product reviews. If you’re wondering why I’m doing this series, or how I’m choosing what to review, what my review standards are, and whether I am involved in affiliate programs for them, head over here for the answers: EV Fitness and Nutrition Product Reviews.

Fitness and Nutrition Product Review:

TRUE_GRIPS

TrueGrip from IronBull

  • EVR (Elsbeth Vaino Rating): 4 DB (out of 10)

 

Description: (from the product webpage) “The Iron Bull TrueGRIP is a unique strength training device that finally allows you to reach your real muscular potential. This 10 second tweak to your bar and dumbbells will turn any regular workout into an extreme strength and mass building training.”

Iron Bull contacted me to see if I would be interested in testing their product. I said that I would, noted that I would write a blog about my thoughts, and that they needed to be comfortable with the fact that I would be completely honest in my review – even if I didn’t like it.

They gave me a few colour options, and I naturally chose pink, because, well, there’s something very cool about pink in the weight room. In my opinion at least.

What I like about the product:

  • I am a firm believer in the importance of grip strength, and in fact I think there is a strong correlation between a strong grip and shoulder stability – which is obviously a good thing. For this reason, I like the idea of working grip strength, and this product provides that.
  • The grip is comfortable and the product is easy to use.

What I didn’t like about the product:

  • Sizing: I wish they had mentioned that the colours were meaningful in terms of sizing. Pink is the “lady grip” and is smaller than the other models at 2 inches (they also have a 2.5 and 3 inch model). Had I known there was a difference other than colour, I probably would have chosen differently. In fact I think for many women, just using a regular bar when lifting is essentially the equivalent of men using a grip trainer like the True Grip, because we have smaller hands – especially those who are shorter. In fact I have recently bought a Rogue Bella bar for my gym and my small handed clients LOVE it. Prior to that purchase, I had a few incredible female athletes making sacrilegious statements like “I hate deadlifts“. It was because their hands weren’t big enough to really grip the bar, so the exercise was really working their grip, but was doing little for their legs, glutes and back, which is actually what I want to work in a deadlift. Switch to the slightly smaller bar, and they are hooked. And let’s face it – hooking someone on deadlifts is a very good thing. That may seem like a big tangent, but my point is that I don’t really see the point of a “lady grip”.
  • Type of training: I found that a tool like this is not something that fits well with my training style or with the goals of my clients. We used it primarily with rows, deadlifts, and Romanian deadlifts. We also tried to use them for pull ups and chins, but the grips didn’t fit on our chin up bars. My impression of using thick grips was that it may have increased grip strength, but because it made the lift so hard on the grip, we had to drop weight making it too easy in terms of the true intended benefit of the lift (e.g. upper back in rows; basically everything with deadlifts).
  • Grip strength alternatives: I would rather train grip strength with suitcase carries and bottom up Kettlebell (KB) work, where in addition to the grip strength, my clients are also getting a great rotary core challenge. I did try to use the grips with my KBs for the suitcase carries, but they didn’t fit the handles. We have York KBs – maybe they would fit if we had competition KBs?

 

Final Thoughts: I don’t think these are a great tool for the type of client I attract – primarily people who use training to improve their performance in sports and in life. If I was training people for primarily for bodybuilding and hypertrophy, maybe this would be a better option.

I sent the above feedback to the manufacturer, to give them the opportunity to respond, and the following is what they had to say:

“Thank you for taking the time to write back. I really appreciate your feedback. It is a great idea to provide some guidelines on how to properly use the grips. We will add a protocol on how to use them for maximum results.

I understand your point of view and this product is really intended to bring up your grip strength. The best way to use the grips is to cycle them in your training. Usually, after 3-4 weeks of using them on every exercises, you can return to the normal grip handle and your old weights will feel lighter. People usually get stronger with the grips even if they have to lower the weights at first.

To answer your questions, you had the lady grips but they are the same size as the TGrip 2.0. They are the smallest grips we carry. Also, the grips can be used for hypertrophy as well as strength training. I could say that using them right off the start for back movements (pulling) is probably the most intense way to use them. Incorporating them on pushing exercises and arms exercises is a good start.

I am glad you took the time to give me your full feedback. Thank you very much for it.”

How to buy:

Buy the True Grip directly through their website (not an affiliate link)

Note: For each product I review, I provide links to help you purchase the product should you wish to. In the event that I really like a product, and there is an affiliate program, I provide two links – one affiliate link and one direct link. If I don’t like a product, I will only include a direct purchasing link. If I like the product but there is no affiliate program, I will also only include a direct link (too obvious?).

If you’re wondering about this affiliate stuff, give?this post a read. I hope you’ll agree that it’s reasonable that I do this, and that you trust that I value my integrity too much to ever let an affiliate option cloud my judgement. If you don’t support the concept of the affiliate links, but want to buy a product that I’ve reviewed, I have included an affiliate-free link for you.

 

Other Fitness and Nutrition Products Reviewed:

Supplement Reference Guide (Examine.com)

Bella Bar from Rogue

Fitness Product Review: Examine.com Supplement Goals Reference Guide

This is the first in a new series I’m adding to my blog: fitness and nutrition product reviews. If you’re wondering why I’m doing this series, or how I’m choosing what to review, what my review standards are, and whether I am involved in affiliate programs for them, head over here for the answers: EV Fitness and Nutrition Product Reviews.

Fitness and Nutrition Product Review:

Supplement Guide

Examine.com Supplement Goals Reference Guide

  • EVR (Elsbeth Vaino Rating): 9 DB

(Those of you who are fitness junkies will appreciate that I’m using a 0 to 10 dumbbell (DB) scale. Those that are also science nerds will doubly appreciate the DB scale, although you’ll probably wish I didn’t capitalize the d.)

 

Description: This guide provides detailed information about 170 supplements and 188 health goals. For each supplement, the guide provides a brief description, followed by a table showing:

  • potential relevant effects
  • the magnitude of the effect
  • a level of evidence rating about the quality of information available
  • the number of relevant studies
  • links to each study
  • comments that summarize the findings and where relevant, provide context.

What I like about the product:

  • The quality and volume of scientific information about each supplement
  • The table and visual layout allows me to easily find points of interest.
  • That it shows the number of studies upon which the effects and comments are based, with an easy click to the name and a few details about each study, and then a link to the study abstract on the relevant journal site (and associated options for obtaining the full text of the study). This is really the coup de grace: it’s literally all here. Next time you see an article in the media that makes claims about a supplement based on a single study, flip to the relevant page in this guide to see what the rest of the studies say.
  • The comments section is actually unbiased. This is a rare treat. There is no agenda other than to share knowledge. Just thinking about that makes me swoon. I know that’s dramatic. But let’s face it commentary sections more often than not are about supporting a thesis. In this case, the comments provide a simple summary of the information in the relevant studies and where relevant, some context. By context, I mean that sometimes there are studies that suggest conflicting results?on the surface, but a full review may reveal that the study methodology doesn’t fully support the conclusion, or that the studies are based on different demographics. Here is an example of a comment about the effect Fish Oil has on blood pressure:

“May decrease blood pressure in persons with high blood pressure, but does not appear to have efficacy in persons with normal blood pressure”

  • The pdf is updated daily from examine.com meaning that when new studies are published, your guide will be updated with that information. So next time you read the conclusions that the media has made based on a new study, check out your guide and you’ll see that it has been updated to include that information.
  • The price. I actually think the price is far too low. In fact I was chatting with a friend earlier today and we both suspect sales will be negatively affected by how low the price is. People may see the price and think “How good can it be if it’s only $39?”

What I don’t like about the product:

  • In some cases, I wished for more from the supplement descriptions. While it does provide a basic description, I found myself wishing for more about the relevance of the supplement, including things like why people take them, and if there are either other similar supplements, or complementary supplements.
  • I would have liked to see both the supplements and goals grouped together for ease of use. For instance, having diabetes as a category and then blood glucose and insulin sensitivity listed within it, instead of simply having blood glucose and insulin sensitivity listed alphabetically.
  • An extra section in the introduction explaining some of the terms they will see would be very valuable, particularly for those who do not have scientific backgrounds.
  • The pdf format is viewable, but not optimal, in readers like ibooks. Navigation in ibooks is a bit clunky, and sometimes the page break make it awkward to read an effect – although not impossible.

Final thoughts: This is a case where the pros far outweigh the cons. Bottom line: it’s a really, really good source of unbiased information.

How to buy:

Buy the product using my affiliate link

Buy the product directly (no affiliate link)

(This two link system is something you’ll see in all of my product reviews where I liked the product (or service), and there is an affiliate program. If I don’t like a product, I will only include a direct purchasing link (you may still want to buy it even if I don’t like it). If I like the product but there is no affiliate program, I will also only include a direct link (too obvious?).

If you’re wondering about this affiliate stuff, give this post a read. I hope you’ll agree that it’s reasonable that I do this, and that you trust that I value my integrity too much to ever let an affiliate option cloud my judgement. If you don’t support the concept of the affiliate links, but want to buy a product that I’ve reviewed, I have included an affiliate-free link for you.
Other Fitness and Nutrition Products Reviewed:

Bella Bar from Rogue

True Grip Trainer