Garage athletes are often gear addicts. The money we save in gym memberships and drive time often gets sunk into this or that gadget either because they’re on sale or because we think it will save time/increase safety/improve performance/save money. As my daddy once loves to say, “You can go broke saving money”. In today’s segment, I take my new Black Widow 2.5 inch Axle on an Interstate Tour to see what Tennessee and Georgia’s strongmen and powerlifters think of this product!
Unboxing was great, the bar came powder coated black which might have been a concern had I not already had the Z-EE/Ferruggia bar which comes similarly coated. I’ve had that for two years and before that my brother had it in his outdoor gym with zero rusting. I’m not worried about the black covering. The welds appear solid without raised burrs or anything that might catch on my calluses or embed metal fragments in my hand during a training session.
My first experiment with this product was to use it for reverse curls. I’d been using an Olympic bar for these and I had worked up to 65lbs for sets of 12-15. Not earth shattering numbers I know but my forearms have always been a weakness, especially since as a writer I tend to do a lot of typing which can overwork the flexors. Anyway, with the thicker axle bar, it was all I could do to hold on to the naked bar. Three sets of ten were plenty to get me fried and my wrists were plenty fatigued by the time I was done! After two weeks of use, I loaned the bar to my older brother who competes in strongman and switched back to using a normal Olympic bar. I noticed a big difference as I was able to bang out eight sets with 65lbs as opposed to my previous best of four sets.
My brother was pleased with the bar and immediately put it to use in a strongman circuit. He did deadlifts, stiff leg deadlifts, bent over rows, upright rows and squats, dropping the bar after the rows and squats. The collars didn’t budge. As I said in this review of the Strongman Pipe Collars that come with the bar, they are solid, easy to use and once they’re on; they stay on until you’re ready for them to come off.
The bar is comparable to bars from West Cary Barbell and only weighs 21lbs meaning you can load it up to bang out heavy deadlifts or keep it light for accessory work like I did. The powder coating did come off after about ten workouts but nothing major. I took it by Steve Goggins garage gym and showed it to his lifters. They liked the feel of the bar and were interested in how it could improve grip for powerlifting.
Final verdict: In talking to friends of mine who do machining and fabricating, one thing to watch for is any denting of the bar. Because of the grade of steel if this bar dents the whole thing might begin to fold. Other than that, this seems to be a solid product especially when you consider that it retails for $125 + shipping.