Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


Grip Chronicles
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The emails are pouring in. It seems everyone is getting excited about building their grip strength these days – and why not? It’s fun and it makes sense. The stronger your hands get, the stronger the rest of your lifts will get.

I recently received an email from a fellow named Kurt who wanted some help with his Grip Training Program design. Here it is:

      Hey Jedd,
      First off, I love the newsletter you guys send out, thanks for all your hard work. I was hoping to get some advice from a Mash Monster. I closed the #2 C.O.C a month ago and just the other day I couldn’t close it. I don’t what happened. Now, I do work with my hands (


      ) so I think that might have something to do with it, but since I’m new to grip training here’s my grip training work out:
      #1 C.O.C 10reps 5sets
      Dumbbell Hammer Curls 10sets 5-6reps 35#
      Wrist curls w/ 25# Dumbbell —-> TO FAILURE
      I drilled a hole in a Closet Rod, put rope through the hole, tied a knot on the Rod side and tie off weights on the other end and twist it up and down. I do this to Failure also
    What do you think? I would appreciate any input you have.

Kurt, thanks for the compliments on the newsletter. You are off to a good start with your routine, but I do have some comments I’d like to make.

First off, it is very possible that the intense use of the hands at work is holding you back from significant gains in your grip training. If this is the case, you may want to ditch all of the grip training for a week or two and hit it again when you are well rested. Also, try to find ways to warm up before your shift, stretch throughout your shift, and again when your shift is done. Some sort of analgesic rub (Flexall, Jack’s Blue Heat) for the hands and joints might be just what you need to keep your hands feeling good throughout the work day.

My suspicion, however is the reason for your disappointing crush results has more to do with the fact that the training you are doing does not match up with your current goals – closing that #2 Gripper.

For instance, your gripper work is made up of 5 sets of 10 reps with the #1 gripper. This work is going to get you very good at closing that #1 gripper, BUT I feel it is going to fall short as far as closing the #2 is concerned.

Many beginner gripsters, including myself, have started out thinking that a bunch of reps with a light gripper is going to get them where they want to be with a heavier gripper, but this is just not the case. Most athletes agree that in order to close a goal gripper, you must work with that gripper in order to get used to the strength of it, and you must spend significant time with the gripper handles at or near closed. In other words, get in a set or two with the #1 so that the fingers and hands are nice and warm, but then transition to work sets on the #2. Incorporate several different set depths, including no-sets, credit card sets, parallel sets, and cheat sets. Work timed holds and overcrushes. Check out my series, Straight To The Grip Contest – Grippers; all of these techniques are covered and explained. In short, get conditioned to squeezing that #2 gripper and you will soon be closing it.
Lastly, if you have the spare change, buy a gripper that is harder than the #2 – maybe a #2.5 or a #3. In my experience, gains with the #2 came very quickly, probably within a week or two, after getting my #3 gripper. Once my hands got used to the strain of the heavier gripper, the lighter grippers felt like oatmeal in my hands. Case in point – look how well you dominate the #1 now after some time squeezing the #2…

I also notice that the rest of your program involves high repetitions. In fact you are completely going to failure on the dumbbell wrist curls. You might try landing yourself a thick-handled dumbbell of some sort. The thick handle will make each rep tougher because your hand is open and your volume will automatically drop, while actually getting more work out of each rep.

Throw some pinching in your routine. Plate pinches, block weight pinches, and some last two fingers work should work great for strengthening your whole hand and building up your gripper foundation – the thumb pad.
Lastly, don’t forget your hand health measures. Promote balance in your hands by hitting extensor work routinely and make sure you couple some wrist extensions along with those curls.

All the best in your Grip training, Kurt! Let me know when you are back to smashing that #2!

Napalm Jedd

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



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'Napalm' Jedd 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, check out his superb ebooks and DVDs. One of our favourites - The 'CRUSH' DVD - takes an incredibly thorough look at the world of Gripper Training. Fantastic. You'll also find him on Facebook and Twitter, and of course the Diesel Crew site. Swing by.
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