A blog about Grip Strength, Dinosaur Training, Feats of Strength, Stonelifting, Kettlebell Training, Strength and Conditioning for Martial Arts, and the Paleo Diet.

Friday, August 17, 2012

(English) Home-made Inch / Circus dumbbells

Here are three of my training tools for grip strength and overhead press training:


I thought they might be an inspiration for anyone who wants to train towards feats like lifting the Inch dumbbell or push-pressing a Circus Dumbbell as the modern Strongmen do, but wants to save money on the expensive replicas and Circus Dumbbells in stores.

They all have the infamous 2.38 inch (6cm) diameter thick handle.

The one on the left I actually made myself out of an old steel pipe and spherical molds for the concrete. It was inspired by Tommy Heslep's "Stonebell" which can be seen here:

Hint: I'm currently working on a grip strength e-book with Tommy Heslep in which we will tell you how to make one of these yourself! 

Mine weighs about 40kg (88lbs) – hence much lighter than Tommy’s - and is handy for warm-up and overhead presses for reps. It's like the Circus Dumbbell equivalent of the "Trainer" of the Captains of Crush Grippers.

The one in the middle on the photo above is the one I use most often these days.

This one, just like the one on the right, was made by my reliable metalworker who welded it together within a few days for about half the money an Inch replica or Circus Dumbbell with the same weight would cost in stores. Maybe you can find somebody who has the material and tools to do this for you as conveniently.

It weighs about 60kg (132lbs). It is good for holds and dumbbell rows for open hand grip strength training and one-hand clean and push press attempts, although I have to admit that at the moment I can only do a continental one-hand clean and press with it, resting it on my hip for a short moment.

I’m working on cleaning it properly at the moment.

The one on the right is the big baby.

It weighs 70kg (155lbs) and thus comes close to the Inch dumbbell. I’m still having problems deadlifting it properly with one hand, but this is the goal. Well, actually the goal is to one-hand clean and push press it, whereof the push press is the easiest part. When I start with it resting on my hip, I can also do the second phase of a continental one-hand clean.


I believe that these three dumbbells, although relatively cheaply produced, resemble the dynamics of the Inch-type dumbbells quite closely, closer at least that any plate-loaded or shot-filled Circus Dumbbells. This makes them appropriate not only for Strongman Circus Dumbbell training, but also for feats of grip strength.

Of course, they are proportionately longer than an Inch-type dumbbell, which changes the dynamics when trying to clean them a little bit.

By the way, anyone who regrets that the weight of such a dumbbell is fixed and cannot be progressively increased must know that at times I “load” them with two 1,25kg (2.75lbs) or 2,5kg (5.5lbs) plates which I fix to the outer ends with bicycle tubes. This works quite well and I can thus increase the weight of any dumbbells by up to 5kg (11lbs). Note that this is possible because of the cylindrical shape of the weights – it wouldn’t be that easy if they were spherical in shape.


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