In The Grip Master’s Manual, a book I think anyone interested in grip strength should read, John Brookfield mentions that one of the secrets to closing heavy grippers, especially the IronMind Captains of Crush grippers, is strength in the last two fingers, or the ring and pinky fingers. He says that strength in these two fingers is what finishes off the close when making a big attempt. I fully agree.
After analyzing my performance over the last couple of years in grip contests, I have identified grippers as one of the events I must work on. Aside from other methods I have been using to bring my crush up, I have been supplementing my normal gripper work with lots of focus on the last two fingers.
There is a multitude of ways to work the last two fingers but I want to share some of the things that I have been doing routinely to work on the last two.
One thing that I have been using is the IronMind Tug #5. The IronMind Tugs are shorter-handled torsion-spring grippers that are designed specifically with the last two fingers in mind. I will perform repetitions with the Tug #5 and holds for time, each day I do gripper work. The Tug #5 started out tough for me but after much work on it and probably due to some seasoning, it has gotten rather easy and I am considering buying the next level up in an effort to keep progressing on grippers.
Another tactic I have implemented is called choking. Choking is where you secure the gripper handles down with an object so that they are partially closed. This can be done with a PDA choker, a large washer, or a hose clamp, which is what I use. Hose clamps cost about $1.50 at the hardware store and are a very cheap yet functional option for gripper choking.
I have choked down a #1 Captains of Crush gripper to the point that the handles are parallel.
Then, I invert it, like a Tug, and make attempts to close it with only my last two fingers. I have not yet been able to touch the handles together with my last two fingers, but I am down to about a sixteenth of an inch and if I cheat the handles shut and then remove my off hand, I can hold it nearly closed.
Also, I have been working my last two fingers in a static fashion by pinching together the handles of two sledgehammers.
I normally perform timed holds with this lift, but I also like to pinch and lift the sledges and then swing the handles back and forth, perform figure eights, and twists with the sledges aloft. This is a great finisher to your last two finger training.
I strongly suggest you implement some last two training if your goal is to close heavy grippers, but I will warn you that the day or two after you perform lifts that isolate the last two, your pinky pad will be sore. This pain will subside soon enough and you can speed your recovery by performing deep tissue massage on yourself, doing contrast bathing, and with thorough stretching.
All the best in your training.
“Napalm” Jedd Johnson