The 2.5 inch Axle Bar from Black Widow was on my radar for a few months before I purchased it. I don’t compete in strongman but like any other garage athlete I love new gear. The question is was it worth the money?
Unboxing was great, the 2.5 inch Axle Bar comes 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. 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.
Test Driving the 2.5 inch Axle Bar
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!
Carryover to Other Movements
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.
How Does It Stack Up in Strongman Workouts?
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 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 powerlifting legend 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.
Things to Watch For
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.
But Is It Worth the Money?
As my daddy is fond of saying, “You can go broke saving money!” I think that this product is sturdy enough for general use but might not be a good idea if you plan on regularly handling loads in excess of 600lbs. Aside from the concerns about denting, the fact that the bar is so light means it will take more plates to load it up. That can get old pretty quick. I would definitely get it for Crossfit or GPP workouts but don’t advise it for heavier duty strongman training.