Straight to the Grip Contest VI - Specialization with Grippers

We have covered the gamut of established set techniques for grippers that are currently used in certification systems and in grip contests. Now we need to talk about how to prepare for these certs and contests.

It all comes down to specialization.

You have to specialize with your setting techniques in order to make the best run at your gripper goals. If the promoter is allowing a deep set, then you should spend the majority of your time working on that deep set, and likewise with a wide set.

Following are a few of the practices I have been using in my gripper training. You will see that a lot of these tips will involve Extension of the Movement (EM), one of the concepts the Diesel Method is based upon. The idea behind EM is to increase the physical demand of the training means by making it more difficult. Then, when you return to the movement pattern of the basic movement, it feels much easier to perform. In training, I often try to make my preparation more demanding than what I will be doing in the contest.

Here are a couple of techniques I use for my specialized deep set gripper training.

Set, Pause, and Smash

For example, in the contest, you have to set the gripper to parallel and then you can immediately try to close it. In training, I set the gripper to parallel and then pause it for an instant, to make the close a bit harder. I don't do this every single time, but I usually split it up 50/50. Try this one out! After several weeks of pausing in training, it's going to feel much easier for you to close a gripper in the contest when you can just set it and kill it.

Train on really heavy grippers

The next time someone asks you to try out your gripper, watch how much they shake when they set it. Most people who have not trained with grippers much are going to shake and tremble when they go for the set. Those who are new to grippers often have to expend a great deal of energy just setting the gripper. This can also happen when an experienced athlete goes for their target or Personal Record gripper at a contest. When you get to the contest, you want to be able to conserve as much energy for the close that you can. You do not want to waste any energy trying to keep your hands steady during the set.

The best way I know of to make sure you are steady with grippers is by working with heavier grippers on a routine basis in your training. At least once a week, I do 5 sets or so with a significantly heavier gripper than my goal gripper. For instance, I set aside time in training to work with my Beef Builder Super Elite, COC #4, and BB Grand Elite. Setting these a few times makes lighter grippers feel like squeezing jello.

Following are a couple of things I keep in mind for my wide set training

Speed through the sweep

It is very important that once you get your fingers in place on the gripper handle, to squeeze it down quickly. Nothing is going to hinder your chances of making the handles touch than trying to cover the 3 inches between the handles with a slow, grinding motion. It takes too much energy to do this. Get the handles moving, power through the sweep, and utilize momentum to get the handles as close together as possible on the first effort. If the handles come to a halt, then by exploding from the start you should have enough energy stored up to give it another jolt and pin those handles together at the end of the range of motion.

Full range repetitions

Something new I have been doing lately for my credit card set training is employing repetitions with lighter grippers. I have never done much rep training with the grippers until recently. I have been hitting a lot of full range reps with the COC #2 and the BB Master. Full range is the important thing here. Using EM, I open the gripper completely each time, in order to make each rep a bit harder than what will be done at the contest, all with the hopes of being better conditioned once the contest arrives.

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There are also a few things you should remember, whether you are practicing a deep or wide set, to keep yourself progressing on grippers

Spend time training with the gripper handles closed or nearly closed

The most important thing to remember with deep set training is that if the handles don't touch, then you won't get any points for your attempt. One thing I try to remember is to spend as much time with the gripper handles closed or nearly closed that I can. When I say 'nearly closed' I mean that I tried to close it but I just missed it, with barely a visible space between the handles. When I close a gripper down, I imagine myself squeezing it so hard that I am flattening the inside area of the gripper handles.

To take this idea a little further, I try to remember to close every rep. Whether it is a wide or a deep set, I try to finish each effort off by making the handles touch and trying to hold them there for a second or more. This even applies to when I am setting very heavy grippers. I try to make my hands remember what it feels like to bury the handles on all grippers, even ones in the neighborhood of COC #4's and Grand Elites. To me, it just doesn't make any sense to squeeze it down to ¼ inch space and then let it open up just because you didn't touch the handles together. I strive to finish each rep off, either by pulling with my off-hand, pressing the gripper down on my thigh, or by having a partner close the gap when I know I have completely stalled out.

Tape the handle for negatives

A common training method for grippers is extreme negatives, where a heavy gripper is cheat closed with the off-hand and then the gripping hand tries to resist the opening of the gripper handles. This is a great way to create strength and endurance throughout the full range of the sweep. However, I have always found that my hands get highly irritated when performing multiple negatives, due to the knurling digging into my skin. I have found that I can perform many more extreme negatives in one training session if I wrap electrical tape around the handle on the finger-side of the gripper. There is a lot less friction this way, I can perform more repetitions, and I feel it has helped my endurance tremendously.

These ideas have been great additions to my gripper training lately, and I hope they help you out too. Hopefully these segments on grippers have increased your awareness of gripper techniques and are helping you accomplish your gripper training goals. All the best in your training, and as always, please check out!


Jedd 'Napalm' Johnson

Jedd 'Napalm' Johnson is a name synonymous with grip strength, and he has been training, sharing and competing with these skills for many, many years.

To acquire some serious grip strength yourself, head over to The Grip Authority and check out his superb ebooks and DVDs.

One of our favourites - Fixing Elbow Pain - takes a very thorough look at banishing elbow injuries completely. If you've ever experienced something like Tennis Elbow or Golfer's Elbow, you'll understand just how incredible that is. Fantastic.

Jedd blogs over at The Diesel Crew, and can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Swing by.

Like this? Check out :

Straight to the Grip Contest: Pt II.

The grippers themselves.

Blast from the Past : Hand Strength - Grip, Bending and Tearing.

Get ready for some seriously strong hands.

George F. Jowett.

English strongman.

Of course, if you enjoyed these, I'd highly recommend grabbing the Strength & Fitness Newsletter. Delivered weekly, and absolutely free.

(there's also a Daily Update, if you're looking for an even larger dose of training-related goodness.)

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