MAG Grips? What are those? You know that Movie/TV Show that everyone is always like “Oh my gawd!!! You haven’t watched it? Its the best. Seriously, stop what you are doing and go binge it now!!!’ You wait and wait, and then one cold winter day you finally decide to watch an episode to appease the masses. And then you spend the next week watching seasons 1-10. MAG Grips are that for the cable attachment lovers of the world. Go get them now.
A little background before we dig into MAG Grips
I’ve loved training back for quite some time now. A big back that looks like it could support a house is the goal, and luckily for me the wife agrees. So when I see new toys out there that claim they could help me in that department, I get intrigued. MAG Grips are one of those pseudo niche market items that seem to pop up in every discussion about attachments, but never really garner any momentum beyond the one vocal dude yelling that you need to get them.
Do any research on MAG Grips and you see 1 of 2 questions:
- Do I really need something that just makes my grip not fail?
- There’s so many, which one do I buy?
Let’s dig into the product, and I’ll answer both of these as we go.
Packaging, Shipping, etc.
Just a quick note here. The packaging was done really well. Often times I find that gym equipment is either under packaged with dents and dings, or over packaged to where it takes four people, five blades, and six hours to get into the package. Both packages I received seem to be in good shape, with no blemishes, but it took only seconds to open, discard, and put to use. A+ job here.
These things are SOLID. They are heavy, dense, and something that would easily fit in a hardcore commercial gym like the EliteFTS compound or Super Training (in fact, they are).
The cover on the steel feels like a nice layer of rubber, but it’s not your traditional rubber grip on equipment. It has an almost knurl to it so the slippery when wet issue doesn’t apply here. It doesn’t move or budge, it’s applied VERY tightly to the steel. So I’m not afraid currently at it splitting, separating, or otherwise falling apart (come back in a year, I’ll let you know).
I fully expect these attachments to last me a long time.
Ok, the good part: The name Maximum Advantage Grip almost feels like it sells these short. It’s not a wrong name, but I (and others) have heard the name and thought it simply meant you didn’t need straps. I couldn’t understand why a $70 attachment was worth it when I already owned straps (question number 1 above). But trust me, the lack of straps is only a SMALL portion of the upsides of these attachments. No slipping and no fatiguing of the hands is actually an odd feeling at first, you kind of want to put the bar down for the set but realize your back could take a few extra reps and your arms could hold the bars indefinitely. After you use them a few times, it changes your perception of back training.
The magical thing we have with these, is the hand grips seem to allow a really unique and gnarly activation and contraction of your back. I was disgustingly sore the first few times using these bars because of the sheer concentration they allow for the back. Muscles you didn’t know you had are getting lit up. I’m not a physio or any medical professional so I’m not going to try and tell you how it works from a human movement stance. But I can tell you that having your hands up and over the handles, along with the pronation and supination options, simply forces your back to contract and do the lion’s share of the pulling. Especially gnarly if you employ a solid 1 or 2 second hold in the contraction, and purposefully focus on the squeeze.
(Check out the difference in the elbows from left to right below. A good inch or two of extra ROM)
Add to that the curvature in the center of the bar. It allows a full, comfortable range of motion that John Meadows would be proud of. Get those damn elbows back!!! Again, if you are accustomed to rowing with “normal” bars, this is going to be a weird feeling at first. But you’ll quickly realize you’ve been leaving muscles out of the equation and leaving gains on the gym floor. I was hearing popping and cracking in my back as I reached new levels of range, squeeze, and activation. Not painful mind you, but like a good soft tissue massage, you feel like you’ve opened up new avenues for your body to move through. I have to assume that over the long haul, this will not only lead to more muscle, but less injuries and simply a better movement quality in many exercises.
Then add that at six feet tall and using a home cable unit, which is shorter than a stack, I get a very full range and stretch at the top! Because your hands come over the top, it essentially takes an extra several inches to hit the top range of pulldowns. Very beneficial for those of us potentially exceeding the six foot mark.
The handles also seem to allow heavier weight. Again, not entirely sure why, maybe just the rock solid grip, but more weight is certainly getting tossed around. Tossed around isn’t fair. Purposefully lifted and moved with the targeted muscles in the back. That is more like it.
I’ve been testing these for more than just rows and pulldowns. They work for landmine T-bar Rows, low cable pullovers, triceps pressdowns, curls, and probably a bunch more. I’ve basically dumped all but a couple bars and attachments because they become irrelevant after the MAG’s. I’m not saying they are the ideal bar for curls or pressdowns, but they work with very few tradeoffs.
The ability to hit the back through a full range, from stretch to contraction, with no hand slip or fatigue, with a very gnarly activation and contraction, all while handling more weight, make these bars amazing.
MAG grips are all about the little intricacies like hand placement, focusing on internal or external rotation, pulling with the back, concentrated squeezes, slightly exaggerated ROM, etc. Perfect fit for the way I like to program.
What about each one? Which is best?
Best is a hard thing to narrow down, but lets give it a shot. Looking around the Internets the top 4 versions (and the ones I currently own) are:
- Medium Grip Supinated
- Close Grip Supinated
- Wide Grip
- Medium Grip Pronated
Close Grip Supinated
I personally don’t think the close grips give you the full MAG grip experience. I say this because their size doesn’t allow you to get as full of a ROM. It isn’t a design flaw, it is simply the fact that close grip attachments have no room to wrap around the body. That being said, it is a FANTASTIC pulldown option. My wife and I both regularly go to the close grip option for pulldowns. I’m just not a huge fan of it for seated rows.
Medium Grip Supinated
The medium grips, personally, are the money makers. They are the right width for me to give me full ROM without having my arms out super crazy or super tight. They are basically perfect. I would personally choose the pronated first, but others recommend the supinated. They also work best for landmine work if you plan to go that route.
The wide is basically your go-to replacement for “standard” lat bars. Likely not a common use for seated rows, but very good for pulldowns obviously.
Medium Grip Pronated
If you can ONLY own one bar, I’d personally own the Medium Pronated. I think you could own either Medium Grip and be VERY happy, but the pronated seems to work well with pulldowns, seated rows, and landmine work. In my opinion it is the most versatile of the four I own. Others might shine in specific applications or execution of certain variants of lifts, but I believe the Medium Pronate is the best “I just want to dip my toe in the water” attachment choice. If I ever get my hands on the rest, I’ll be sure to rank them in order, but for now I’ll trust the experience of many others and keep these four as the top four options out of the seven.
A quick side note, you could grab the medium Pronated, and then rotate it to test out the supinated feel. It isn’t 100% because the handles bend the wrong way, but for a free test you can’t go wrong.
The Other Stuff – Where they can improve
The product itself is top notch. Zero complains, zero changes, 100% satisfied. So much so, that after buying two and testing them out for a week I bought two more and ripped almost every other attachment off my wall and tossed them in the corner (I haven’t used any of them since). So what can we improve? The buying experience.
There are so many options to choose from that seem to have very little difference at an initial review. Seven different options organized on a page with only price, supinated or pronated, and length to differentiate them at all (question number 2 above).
Shipping is also rough.
To be expected from a smaller shop and for solid pieces, but it hurts to add $14 to a $70 attachment, especially when you are likely gambling and don’t want to buy them all out the gate, so you buy one and eat that hefty shipping price. You can also, from my research, only buy MAG Grips on their site, at EliteFTS, and Legend. That doesn’t offer many opportunities for people to use their Amazon Gift Cards, or bundle during a Rogue 5 for $5 shipping deal (These would fit great on Rogue, US made, high quality, blacked out).
So what could they do?
I think they need to provide some clues to customers as to where to start on their MAG Grip journey. Organizing the page by best sellers, highest reviews, or simply a recommended starting point would be a great start. That way, if I have no idea what I’m truly looking at I can take the advice of others to start. That’s actually how I got started. The Bodybuilding.com Equipment forums had a dedicated discussion and all agreed that the best starting point was the Close Grip and Medium Grip Supinated attachments, followed by Wide Grip and Medium Grip Pronated. I’ve had MAG Grips bookmarked for three years and never knew what to buy, so I never pulled the trigger. As soon as I got that little bump, I pulled the trigger instantly.
To mitigate that shipping issue, it might be an awesome promo to offer free shipping on the highest rated bar. The Supinated or Pronated Medium Grip will give you the unique feel, are super versatile for low cable and high cable work, and have the curvature for the extra ROM, so you get the full MAG Grips experience. Offering free shipping and claiming it as the introductory bar would give people some guidance and get them in the door, where I no doubt believe they’ll come back for more.
If you could get these on a site like Rogue, that instantly expands your reach of customers. Add to that, if you partnered with Proloc Collars (with a Proloc 2), you can easily market these for the T-Bar / Landmine crowd. In fact, they put your normal T-Bar attachments, just like your normal cable attachments, to shame.
I seriously have no complaints about MAG Grips from a finished product stance. In fact, I can’t think of another product that I went into buying with a very limited expectation of results, to then just getting floored so hard, so quickly, by their awesomeness.
I think if they can work on getting people in the door a bit better, reducing that “what am I looking at” phenomena, and maybe offering some promos or better options to purchase, we’d see a lot more of these in commercial and garage gyms alike.
If you enjoy hitting back day as much as I do, or maybe you have trouble really feeling and engaging your back, the MAG Grips are a very valid investment in your journey towards a back that blocks out the sun.
Where to Buy: http://maxagrip.com/index.html
Want to see more? Check out my video review: https://youtu.be/UlNOH7ZGA3U