Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen A7 Fitness somewhere on social media (or in real life) in the past 12 months. In case you haven’t, A7 makes a line of shirts which feature a textured pattern on the back (and sometimes sleeves), which is intended to stop the bar slipping on your shoulder, or your shoulders slipping on the bench. I’ve been using bar grip products for about a year now, and I really like them, so it seems appropriate to do a full review.
I currently own two Bar Grip shirts, one meet tee (no bar grip, approved for use in IPF meets), and one Bar Grip hoodie. I’ve also got one more tee on pre-order.
Disclaimer – I’m not a sponsored athlete, and I don’t make any money from this stuff. A good friend of mine is the A7 Oceania distributor, though, and I she occasionally gives me stuff for free or at a discount. Mostly I just think BarGrip is a great idea.
What I Like
Okay, so this is probably the most important thing (everything else is icing on the cake.) The grippy stuff is really cool. I need to use way less chalk now. Although they are marketed to stop the bar slipping on your back, I find them much more useful for benching. So many of the benches that are available in commercial gyms are too narrow and slippery, and the bar grip totally bypasses that problem. I don’t think my shoulders have slid at all while using Bar Grip, even at maximal loads.
Some people would point out that because you can’t use Bar Grip in meets, you shouldn’t use it all the time in training because it limits the specificity of your training. While that is true, in a meet you also have a sharp Eleiko Bar and a decent bench, so I really don’t see it as a problem. If it really bothered you, you could just not wear your shirt on days when you had heavy bench singles.
Finally, the shirts are reasonably stylish and comfortable! I frequently wear mine to work, around the house, and out and about during the weekends.
My first contact with A7 Fitness was buying two shirts as gifts, but I got the sizing wrong and asked if I could exchange them. Jasen (co-owner and founder) emailed me back directly and helped me figure it out. He also included hand-written notes on everything I bought, which is a really nice touch. That was the point that actually sold me on the company, and I immediately got myself one too.
My interactions with the new Oceania distributor have been just as positive!
A7 International and Oceania have both done amazing jobs of community building. A7 International have a private Facebook group for people who have bought their products, which is well frequented, a host of sponsored athletes, and were even one of the major sponsors at USAPL Raw Nationals this year.
A7 Oceania have been extremely active in the New Zealand powerlifting community. Every meet that I’ve been to, I’ve seen them there chatting to the lifters and spectators, coaching, and getting involved. They’ve hosted fundraisers, sponsored events, and generally done a great job of helping to build a positive strength training community in New Zealand. They’ve even helped to come up with a special edition NZ shirt (which I have pre-ordered and am looking forward to receiving!)
(I can’t speak for the Asia or Europe distributors, as I’ve not interacted with them at all.)
What I Don’t Like
There aren’t too many things to dislike, but I’ll list them out here.
Whilst not prohibitively expensive, these definitely aren’t cheap either. Don’t expect to by wearing a different colour every day of the week.
Admittedly, this one is mostly my own fault. Although there are size charts available, I never checked them and just grabbed the sizes I normally get. A7 have gone through a range of suppliers over even the year that I’ve been using them, and as a result, the sizes can vary between different styles. Caveat Emptor.
Some of the Bar Grip shirts have a patch of Bar Grip on the shoulders, for front squatting. It might just be the way my one fits, but that patch is just in totally the wrong place for front squatting, either in a front rack position or in an ‘arms-folded’ positon.
Although kind of pricey, I own two Bar Grip tees, a meet tee, and a hoodie. I wear all of them every week, and I’ve given a couple of Bar Grip products as gifts. The only sticker on my laptop is an A7 sticker. If you want my verdict, it should be pretty clear. If you’re serious about your training and if you’re serious about building a supportive strength community, you should be looking at A7 Fitness gear. They’re definitely a brand I’m happy to support.
Where to Buy
Once again, it’s been a long time since I’ve made a new post. I have a few ideas for some posts for the coming weeks, so keep your eyes open. If there is anything that you want to see more or less of, let me know in the comments below. Hope your training is going well!