Title:
Weight-lifting device and method of use therefor
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A weight-lifting device and method of use therefor, wherein a user is able to securely grasp a weight-bearing bar, yet rapidly release and drop same from his/her person upon a sensation of fatigue or general muscle strain, and wherein the present invention further effectively transfers the weight or load carried by the weight-bearing bar to the user's wrist(s), without subjecting the user's wrist(s) to skin chafing, bruising, and/or potential impedance of proper blood flow.



Inventors:
Ward, Travis (Roswell, GA, US)
Application Number:
10/847007
Publication Date:
11/17/2005
Filing Date:
05/17/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/139
International Classes:
A63B21/06; A63B71/00; A63B21/072; A63B71/14; (IPC1-7): A63B21/06; A63B71/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RICHMAN, GLENN E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BakerHostetler (Cira Centre, 12th Floor 2929 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19104-2891, US)
Claims:
1. A weight-lifting device for assisting a user in lifting a weight-bearing bar, said weight-lifting device comprising: a grapple assembly; and, means for supporting said grapple assembly from a wrist of the user.

2. The weight-lifting device of claim 1, wherein said grapple assembly comprises a first lifting member and a second lifting member.

3. The weight-lifting device of claim 2, wherein said first and second lifting members are cooperatively engageable.

4. The weight-lifting device of claim 3, wherein said first and second lifting members are cooperatively engageable over the weight-bearing bar.

5. The weight-lifting device of claim 4, wherein said first and second lifting members comprise a shallow degree of curvature.

6. The weight-lifting device of claim 5, wherein said first and second lifting members comprise geometries of curvature disposed in opposing geometric planes.

7. The weight-lifting device of claim 6, further comprising a third lifting member.

8. The weight-lifting device of claim 7, wherein said third lifting member comprises a geometry of curvature disposed in the same plane as said first lifting member.

9. The weight-lifting device of claim 8, wherein a crossbar is securely formed between said first and third lifting members.

10. The weight-lifting device of claim 2, wherein said first and second lifting members are pivotally engaged to a support ring.

11. The weight-lifting device of claim 10, wherein said means for supporting said grapple assembly is a wrist belt, and wherein said support ring is carried by said wrist belt, said wrist belt adapted to be secured around the wrist of the user.

12. The weight-lifting device of claim 11, wherein said device is adapted to transfer the weight of the weight-bearing bar to said wrist belt when the weight-bearing bar is graspingly retained between said first and second lifting members.

13. The weight-lifting device of claim 12, wherein said device is adapted to substantially evenly distribute the weight and pressure, if any, from the weight-bearing bar over the user's fingers and palm when said wrist belt is secured around the user's wrist and when the weight-bearing bar is graspingly retained between said first and second lifting members.

14. A method of enabling the rapid release of a weighted item from a user's handgrip, said method comprising the steps of: a. grasping the weighted item via a grapple assembly, said grapple assembly comprising a first lifting member and a second lifting member, said grapple assembly adapted to enable the weighted item to be grasped and retained therewithin via minimal hand force, yet to be selectively rapidly released therefrom; b. releasing the minimal hand force exerted over said grapple assembly and permitting the weighted item to be released and dropped therefrom.

15. A method of transferring weight of a weight-bearing bar from a user's hand to the user's wrist, said method comprising the step of: a. grasping the weighted item via a grapple assembly securely suspended from a wrist belt worn around the user's wrist, said grapple assembly comprising a first lifting member and a second lifting member.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of upwardly displacing said grapple assembly.

17. The method of claim 16, further comprising the step of permitting said first and second lifting members to catch the weight-bearing bar, and thus, become cooperatively engaged therearound.

18. The method of claim 17, further comprising the step of permitting said first and second lifting members to produce a generally tightened grip around the weight-bearing bar as the inherent weight, load and resistive forces of the weight-bearing bar collectively downwardly bear against or act on said first and second lifting members.

19. The method of claim 18, further comprising the step of permitting the weight from the weight-bearing bar to transfer from said grapple assembly to said wrist belt.

20. A weight-lifting device, comprising, a grapple assembly carried by a wrist belt, said wrist belt adapted to be worn by a user, wherein said grapple assembly is adapted to engage a weight item.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to weight-lifting devices, and more specifically to a weight-lifting device adapted to grasp and permit the rapid release, drop or disengagement of a weight-bearing bar therefrom, wherein the weight or load carried by the weight-bearing bar is effectively transferred to the user's wrist(s), thereby significantly reducing or eliminating the amount of hand strength or gripping force required to retain the bar within the user's hand(s). The present invention is particularly suitable for, although not strictly limited to, application within the weight-training arena, wherein amateur weight-lifters and/or professional bodybuilders alike may utilize the device to assist in weight-training, weight-lifting, establishing proper lifting form, and/or reducing exercise-induced bodily injury.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

For many individuals engaged in a regular exercise regimen, weight-training is recognized as a crucial and effective method of building muscle mass, improving muscle and bone strength, and providing an overall low-impact cardiovascular exercise.

The vast majority of upper body weight-training exercises are typically effectuated via the repetitive lifting and/or directionally-concentrated displacement of a weight-bearing bar carrying a selected number of calibrated weight plates thereon, wherein the lifter usually grasps the weight-bearing bar with one or both hands and retains the bar within his/her hand grip via a sustained grasping hand force. However, because typical weight-training regimens require multiple sets and repetitions of a selected weight to effectively train a selected muscle group, such sustained hand force around the weight-bearing bar can impart a concentrated pressure on the lifter's palm(s), finger joints and/or wrist(s), thus resulting in muscle and joint fatigue, and/or potential injury thereto.

Accordingly, a multitude of available devices seek to reduce or eliminate the amount of hand strength or gripping force required to retain a weight-bearing bar within a lifter's hand(s), wherein such devices either transfer the weight to the lifter's wrist(s) and/or evenly distribute the pressure over the lifter's hand(s) and wrist(s). An example of such a device includes straps or tethers of sufficient length to securely wrap around the lifter's wrist and the weight-bearing bar, thereby facilitating lifting of the bar. Similar devices utilize straps to securely wrap around the lifter's wrist, wherein a rigid hook-shaped support member, clasp or carabiner carried by the strap is supportively engaged with the weight-bearing bar. Still other devices utilize straps extending from a glove worn by the lifter, wherein the straps similarly securely wrap around the weight-bearing bar to facilitate lifting of same.

Although the above-described available devices may sufficiently transfer the weight of the weighted bar to the lifter's wrist(s) and/or evenly distribute the pressure from same over the lifter's hand(s) and wrist(s), such devices share a disadvantageous commonality that renders use of each device highly impractical and potential injurious to the lifter.

Specifically, to ensure the secured engagement of the straps around the weight-bearing bar, the strap must often be tightly wound multiple times around the bar and the lifter's wrist(s). As such, should the lifter become fatigued or experience muscle strain, utilization of such straps can prevent the lifter from quickly releasing and dropping the bar from his/her person, thereby subjecting the lifter to potential muscle and joint injury. Straps with supportive hooks or carabiners also retard or prevent quick-release and subsequent drop of the weight bar from the lifter's person, wherein such hooks often possess a high degree of curvature so as to securely retain or support the bar thereon, and wherein carabiners, having a characteristic oblong ring-shape with a spring-hinged side, lockingly receive and secure the bar therewithin. Additionally, due to the inherent weight and resistive forces of the weighted bar acting on the straps wrapped around the lifter's wrist, the lifter's wrist is often subjected to significant skin chafing, bruising, and potential impedance of proper blood flow.

Therefore, it is readily apparent that there is a need for a weight-lifting device that provides a user with the ability to securely grasp a weighted bar, yet rapidly release and drop same from the user's person. In addition thereto, there is a further need for such a device that effectively transfers the weight or load carried by the weight-bearing bar to the user's wrist(s), thereby significantly reducing the amount of hand strength or gripping force required to retain the bar within the user's hand(s). There is yet a further need for such a device that effectively transfers the weight or load carried by the weight-bearing bar to the user's wrist(s), without subjecting the user's wrist(s) to skin chafing, bruising, and/or potential impedance of proper blood flow, due to the inherent weight and resistive forces of the weighted bar acting thereon.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly described, in a preferred embodiment, the present invention overcomes the above-mentioned disadvantages and meets the recognized need for such a device by providing a weight-lifting device and method of use therefor, wherein a user is able to securely grasp a weight-bearing bar, yet rapidly release and drop same from his/her person upon a sensation of fatigue or general muscle strain, and wherein the present invention further effectively transfers the weight or load carried by the weight-bearing bar to the user's wrist(s), without subjecting the user's wrist(s) to skin chafing, bruising, and/or potential impedance of proper blood flow.

According to its major aspects and broadly stated, the present invention in its preferred form is a weight-lifting accessory or device and method of use therefor, comprising, in general, a grapple assembly and wrist belt.

More specifically, the present invention is a weight-lifting device and method of use therefor, preferably comprising a grapple assembly possessing a series of cooperatively engageable grasping and lifting members pivotally engaged to a support ring carried by a wrist belt. The cooperatively engageable grasping and lifting members of the grapple assembly preferably function according to the principle of lifting tongs, wherein engagement of each member over a weight-bearing bar, and subsequent upward displacement of the grapple results in the grasping members “catching” the weight-bearing bar, and thus, producing a tighter grip therearound as the inherent weight/load and resistive forces of the bar collectively downwardly bear against or act on each member, thereby permitting the lifting of the weight-bearing bar via minimal exertion of hand force by the user.

Preferably, each lifting member possesses a degree of curvature sufficient to permit a weight-bearing bar to be grasped and retained therewithin via minimal hand force, as described above. However, the curvature of each lifting member is shallow enough such that should the user/lifter become fatigued or sense muscle strain during a particular exercise regimen, the user simply releases his/her minimal hand grip, thus permitting the weight-bearing bar to disengage from the grapple assembly. Additionally, the present invention effectively evenly distributes the weight and pressure, if any, from the weight-bearing bar over the lifter's fingers and palms, and further transfers the weight of the weight-bearing bar to the lifter's wrist via the communicating wrist belt and support ring.

Accordingly, a feature and advantage of the present invention is its ability to enable a user to securely grasp a weight-bearing bar, yet to rapidly release and drop same from his/her person, if desired.

Another feature and advantage of the present invention is its ability to evenly distribute weight and pressure, if any, from the weight-bearing bar over the lifter's fingers and palms.

Still another feature and advantage of the present invention is its ability to effectively transfer the weight or load carried by the weight-bearing bar to the user's wrist, without subjecting the user's wrist to skin chafing, bruising, and/or potential impedance of proper blood flow, as a result of the inherent weight and resistive forces of the weighted bar acting thereon.

Yet another feature and advantage of the present invention is its ability to assist a user with convenient and safe lifting of dumbbell bars, curling bars, and/or other weight bearing bars.

These and other features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent to one skilled in the art from the following description and claims when read in light of the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will be better understood by reading the Detailed Description of the Preferred and Alternate Embodiments with reference to the accompanying drawing figures, in which like reference numerals denote similar structure and refer to like elements throughout, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a weight lifting device according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a weight lifting device according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a side view of a weight lifting device according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, shown in use; and,

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a weight lifting device according to an alternate embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED AND SELECTED ALTERNATIVE EMBODIMENTS

In describing the preferred and selected alternate embodiments of the present invention, as illustrated in FIGS. 1-4, specific terminology is employed for the sake of clarity. The invention, however, is not intended to be limited to the specific terminology so selected, and it is to be understood that each specific element includes all technical equivalents that operate in a similar manner to accomplish similar functions.

Referring now to FIGS. 1-3, the present invention in a preferred embodiment is a weight-lifting device 10 and method of use therefor, comprising wrist belt 20, support ring 30, and grapple assembly 40.

Wrist belt 20 preferably includes first end 22 and second end 24, wherein first end 22 preferably supports conventional belt buckle member 26 with prong 27 engaged therewith, and wherein second end 24 preferably possesses a plurality of aligned throughholes 28 formed therethrough. Wrist belt 20 is preferably secured to a user's wrist via threading second end 24 through buckle member 26 of first end 22, wherein prong 27 of buckle member 26 is preferably inserted through a selected throughhole 28 for securely fastening wrist belt 20 around the user's wrists, and wherein second end 24 is subsequently threaded through belt loop 25 disposed on first end 22, proximal buckle member 26. Although the foregoing buckle fastening system of wrist belt 20 is preferred, it should be recognized that other suitable securing mechanisms could be utilized, such as, for exemplary purposes only, hook-and-loop fasteners, other buckle systems, clasps, latches, and the like.

Wrist belt 20 preferably possesses a sufficient width so as to essentially cover the user's wrist and a portion just thereabove (i.e., lower forearm), thereby providing ample support for the user's wrist and further evenly distributing the weight and pressure from a weight-bearing bar thereover. Additionally, and in view of the relatively thin or overly malleable straps of available weight lifting devices, wrist belt 20 is preferably formed from a durable and relatively thick material, such as, for exemplary purposes, leather, rubber, or the like, thereby further contributing to the supportive and effective weight distributive characteristics of wrist belt 20.

Preferably extending from lower edge 20a of wrist belt 20, proximal the mid-region thereof, is support loop 29, wherein support loop preferably securely retains support ring 30 therewithin. Support loop 29 is preferably secured to lower edge 20a of wrist belt 20 via any suitable securing means, such as, for exemplary purposes only, stitching, hot melt, adhesives, rivets, or integral formation therewith.

Support ring 30 is preferably substantially oblong ring-shaped, comprising fulcrum portion 32 from which grapple assembly 40 preferably securely extends, as more fully described below. Support ring 30 is preferably formed from a suitable durable material, such as, for exemplary purposes only, metal, plastic, or the like. It should be recognized that support ring 30 could be secured directly to wrist belt 20, or, alternatively, via clasps, additional support rings, or the like, thereby eliminating incorporation of support loop 29.

Referring now more specifically to FIG. 2, grapple assembly 40, shown removed from wrist belt 20 and engaged with support ring 30, preferably includes cooperatively engageable grasping and lifting members 42, 44 and 46. Lifting members 42 and 46 preferably possess first ends 42a and 46a, respectively, and second ends 42b and 46b, also respectively, wherein first ends 42a and 46a are preferably pivotally engaged about fulcrum portion 32 of support ring 30. Lifting members 42 and 46 preferably flank lifting member 44, wherein lifting member 44 similarly preferably includes first end 44a and second end 44b, and wherein first end 44a is also preferably pivotally engaged about fulcrum portion 32 of support ring 30.

Preferably, each lifting member 42, 44 and 46 is substantially plate-like, and possesses a degree of curvature sufficient to enable weight-bearing bar B to be grasped and retained therewithin via minimal hand force, as more fully described below with reference to FIG. 3. Additionally, to permit effective cooperative engagement between lifting member 42, 44 and 46 over weight-bearing bar B, the geometry of curvature, or arc, of lifting members 42 and 46 is preferably disposed within the same plane, wherein the geometry of curvature of lifting member 44 is preferably disposed in an opposing plane.

Referring now more specifically to FIG. 3, cooperatively engageable grasping and lifting members 42, 44 and 46 of grapple assembly 40 preferably function according to the principle of conventional lifting tongs, wherein engagement of each member 42, 44 and 46 over weight-bearing bar B, and subsequent upward displacement of grapple assembly 40 results in lifting members 42, 44 and 46 “catching” weight-bearing bar B, and thus, producing a tightened grip therearound as the inherent weight or load and resistive forces of bar B collectively downwardly bear against or act on each lifting member 42, 44 and 46. As such, the user may lift weight-bearing bar B utilizing minimal exertion of hand force, as the weight of bar B is effectively transferred through grapple assembly 40 to wrist belt 20 around the user's wrist. In such a cooperatively engaged configuration, second end 44b of lifting member 44 is preferably disposed between second ends 42b and 46b of lifting members 42 and 46, respectively, wherein the overall degree of disposition of second end 44b of lifting member 44 between second ends 42b and 46b of lifting members 42 and 46, respectively, will vary depending upon the overall diameter of bar B to which lifting members 42, 44 and 46 are engaged.

During use of device 10, should the user/lifter become fatigued or sense muscle strain during a particular exercise regimen, the user simply releases his/her minimal handgrip over grapple assembly 40, thus permitting the rapid disengagement and dropping of weight-bearing bar B therefrom. Additionally, due to the generally plate-like shape, preferred rigidity, and shallow degree of curvature of each lifting member 42, 44 and 46, the general curvature of grapple assembly 40 preferably conforms with the user's open hand, thus resulting in a generally even distribution of weight and pressure, if any, from weight-bearing bar B over the lifter's fingers and palms. It should be recognized, however, that the vast majority of weight and pressure from weight-bearing bar B will preferably be transferred to the lifter's wrist via the communicating wrist belt 20 and support ring 30.

Referring now more specifically to FIG. 4, illustrated therein is an alternate embodiment of device 10, wherein the alternate embodiment of FIG. 4 is substantially equivalent in form and function to that of the preferred embodiment detailed and illustrated in FIGS. 1-3 except as hereinafter specifically referenced. Specifically, the embodiment of FIG. 4 incorporates crossbar 50 formed between lifting members 42 and 46, proximal the mid-regions thereof, wherein crossbar 50 provides rigidity between lifting members 44 and 46, and further provides additional supportive surface area for contacting weight-bearing bar B. Crossbar 50 is located proximal the mid-regions of lifting members 44 and 46 so as to form a receiving area 52 between second ends 42b and 46b of lifting members 44 and 46, respectively, wherein receiving area 52 is sufficiently dimensioned to permit second end 44b of lifting member 44 to be cooperatively engaged therewithin (i.e., disposed between second ends 42b and 46b of lifting members 44 and 46, respectively).

As further illustrated in FIG. 4, it is contemplated in another alternate embodiment that the inner faces of each lifting member 42, 44 and 46, and/or crossbar 50, could comprise a textured coating or surface T to increase the frictional interaction of same with a weight-bearing bar B grasped therebetween and therewithin. Such textured surfaces could comprise, without limitation, rubber pads, rubber coatings, and/or pads or coatings of rubber-composites and/or other elastomeric compositions.

It is contemplated in still another alternate embodiment that lifting members 42, 44 and 46 could be manufactured with any selected degree of curvature or angle to facilitate the lifting of weight-bearing bars having non-circular cross-sections, such as, for exemplary purposes only, articles have hexagonal cross-sections, octagonal cross-sections, square cross-sections, or the like.

It is contemplated in still yet another alternate embodiment that device 10 could be utilized to lift articles other than weight-bearing bars, wherein lifting members 42, 44 and 46 could be manufactured with any selected degree of curvature or angle to facilitate the lifting of such articles.

It is contemplated in a further alternate embodiment that device 10 could comprises any number of cooperatively engageable lifting members, with or without crossbars formed therebetween.

It is contemplated in still a further alternate embodiment that first ends 42a, 44a and 46a of lifting member 42, 44 and 46 could be spring-tensioned to permit the spring-forced grasping of weight-bearing bar B therebetween, wherein release of bar B therefrom could be facilitated via the user rapidly downwardly jolting his/her arms and wrists so as to jolt bar B out from grapple assembly 40.

It is contemplated in still yet a further alternate embodiment that support loop 29 could be alternatively configured, wherein support loop 29 could include rings or other suitable fastening loops or members, and/or wherein support loop 29 in its entirety could be replaced with rings or fastening loops for effective support of support ring 30 and/or grapple assembly 40 thereby.

Having thus described exemplary embodiments of the present invention, it should be noted by those skilled in the art that the within disclosures are exemplary only, and that various other alternatives, adaptations, and modifications may be made within the scope of the present invention. Accordingly, the present invention is not limited to the specific embodiments illustrated herein, but is limited only by the following claims.