The Straight to the Bar Guide to Grippers

I love training with grippers. Beautiful things.

What exactly are Grippers? How do they help?

Grippers are tools for developing - and testing - a person's crushing grip. Although there are a couple of different forms of grippers (the most common variant is pictured at left), they all challenge the same aspect of an athlete's grip.

They can help in two main ways. The first comes from the testing; you know your current abilities, and can easily set goals and compare it to others.

The second is in the building of those abilities. Although there are many ways to train with them, all have one thing in common - the idea is to strengthen your crushing grip.

NB : when you hear people talk of 'grip strength', they are usually referring to crushing grip. Crushing grip is where the object being gripped (a bar, for example) is firmly against the palm, the thumb and all fingers. Think of a handshake.

Which ones should I get, and where can I get them?

A good starting point is a Captains of Crush gripper from Ironmind. These are well-made, widely available, and extremely tough. They come in strengths ranging from 80-365lb.

(as a guide, a plastic gripper you'll find in a sporting goods store is typically around 25-30lb of resistance).

How do you train with them?

There are many, many ways to train with grippers, including the use of techniques such as negatives, choking and strap holds. My favourites articles on gripper training are :

And the Straight to the Grip Contest series below.

To find out more on these - and to see them in action - check out the articles below, Jedd Johnson's membership site The Grip Authority, and his extraordinarily thorough instructional DVD Crush (review). Fantastic.

I'd love to enter a grip contest or two. What should I expect?

Jedd's article series Straight to the Grip Contest (part I, II, III, IV, V and VI) describes this beautifully. As you'd expect, there's quite a bit going on.

Further Reading

Naturally, there's a whole lot more concerning all aspects of using and training with Grippers. Here are a few resources I've found invaluable over the years :

Over to you. I'd love to hear about the grippers you get, and how you put them to work. Fantastic things.

Want More?

As you can imagine, there’s an incredible amount of material on this site. Articles, video demonstrations & tutorials, the weekly Gymchats and a whole lot more. To keep up with everything going on in the World of Strength, sign up for the weekly Strength & Fitness Newsletter.

Absolutely free.