Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


Pinch Grip Training & Athletic Carryover
Filed In : Articles | highlighted | video
UPDATE : Jedd’s just released the superb Lift the Blob, a package focused on helping you tackle this challenging beast. If you love a little blob-work yourself – or are just curious about what/who/how – take a look at Lift the Blob. Highly recommended.


I have competed in many Grip Strength competitions over the years. I have trained and competed with some of the best in the sport of Grip and I think I have collected a wide range of knowledge on the subject. I was recently asked in an interview if I though Grip Strength Training was important for athletes outside of the sport of Grip. Without a doubt, I think it is very important to dedicate time in the athlete’s training routine to developing solid hand strength, but I also think that some ways are better than others. In my opinion, one of the best types of Grip training for general athletes is Pinch Grip Training.

There are many ways to train the Pinch Grip. In this article, we will look at a few of those ways. You will see videos of Pinch Grip feats and training styles and then I will discuss possible carryover to the sport of grip and other sports with each technique.

First, is a clip from the 2007 grip contest at Total Performance Sports, the Grip Assault. In this clip, I am messing around with a 56-lb Scottish Highland Games Throwing Weight.

As you can see, this is a feat that is suited best for a person with large hands. A smaller handed individual may not be able to spread their fingers far enough to get the fingertips over the edge of the weight.

If you have smaller hands, there is no reason why you still can’t train in this style, though. Just find weights that are smaller in size.

Block weight training is great because it forces you to lift things with an open hand. Open hand strength training makes the full length of the musculature and tendonous masses work in order to lift the weight. With open hand training, you really feel it throughout your entire hand the next day.

When I do wide pinching, like in the video above, I feel the fatigue from the fingertips to the base of the fingers, through the palm and into the wrist. The majority of my grip workouts involve thick block weight training, yet I still see continued increases in my other lifts. To me, that means there is better carry over in wider lifts than narrower lifts, especially if your training goal is excellent performance in Grip Contests, like me.

Even if Grip Competitions are not your interest, I still suggest that open hand training be a main focus in your grip protocol. If it carries over well to other grip lifts, it will carry over to other gym lifts and other sports as well.
Next, in this video, I’m pinching two 45-lb plates & lift a Half 115-lb Hex Block Weight.

I would consider the Two 45’s Pinch feat to be a mid-range pinch feat for me, personally. The two 45-lb plates fit securely in my hand, just about the size of my palm.
The Half 115 Pinch is getting out of the mid-range and moving toward the wide pinch range, although not nearly as wide as the 56-lb weight pinch. Again, the half 115 is going to be much more difficult for a person with smaller hands. It is a rather narrow half 115 compared to some of the other ones I own, but for someone with sub-8-inch hands, it will seem huge.

As far as plate pinching is concerned, the Two 45’s Pinch with one hand is a big deal. It took me a long time to accomplish this feat. However, there is not much “functionality” with this feat. The reason I feel this way is because pinch grip deadlifting is pretty much all you can do with a pair of plates this big. For instance, they are too awkward to high pull, clean, throw or toss from one hand to another.
On the other hand, block weight training is a great functional movement with lots of good quality carry over for other grip lifts, and for athletes. The size of the block weights, in their compact shape, means you can easily high pull them, clean them, toss them from hand to hand, farmer’s walk with them, or even toss them back and forth with a partner. I certainly think all grip athletes and athletes in other sports should get their hands on some block weights.

Finally, here is a clip of various ways to train on the IronMind Titan Telegraph Key. I’ve found this implement to be a great way to train a variety of pinch widths, as well as isometric holds and negatives. This is all great for building thumb strength for grip athletes. Believe me, if you run through this rotation a few times, your thumb pads are going to be torn up.

The question remains – is this a good way for general athletes to train their grip for sport?
I say yes and no. Let me explain why.

I like this implement for its pre-habilitation value. The Titan Telegraph Key can be used in a variety of ways to solidify the thumb and erase any weaknesses there. For athletes who are subjected to thumb trauma, especially grapplers and wrestlers, lacrosse and field hockey players, and gymnasts, a few reps of the titan telegraph key might be something that these athletes should try to keep thumb trauma injuries from happening in the first place.

On the other hand, despite all that, the TTK is still a machine, and I do not know many sports that demand the athlete to pinch down on a machine. I think there are many better options for open hand strength training.
As you can see there are many ways to train the pinch grip in this article, and this is only the beginning. I encourage you to give these feats and training methods a try and report back how you are doing, or feel free to email me with any questions you might have at!

My Blog

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



NB : if you love talking about strength-training as much as I do, you might also like to check out the weekly newsletter (there's also a daily version available). A regular dose of fitness-focussed discussions, absolutely free.


Leave a Reply

What's This?

Straight to the Bar is the online home of fitness enthusiast Scott Bird, and looks at the many training approaches, essential techniques, uncommon exercises and superb equipment to help you become as strong as humanly possible. In short, this site is the home of all things strength.

images of strength

'Napalm' Jedd Johnson.
Want to see (and learn) more Feats of Strength like this? Dive in.

Just Joined Us? Try These.

There are some incredible writers on the team here. To give you an idea, check these out :

If you enjoyed these, check out the complete ‘Best Of Straight to the Bar‘ list. Fantastic.

setting up a home gym?

If you’re getting ready to put together a solid Home Gym (fantastic thing), here’s how.

For more, swing by the full guide. Absolutely free.

And of course, you’ll find everything you need over in the SttB Strength Store. Massive range.

Ever Tried Kettlebells?

If you’ve seen people using them but never taken the plunge yourself, here are the ones I use personally. You can also pick up a book/DVD/course if you want to learn how to put them to work.

Ready To Learn Even More?

I love learning new skills, and the many seminars & workshops available are a great way to do that. If you’re looking for a specific type of workshop nearby, check out the ones on Dragon Door. Great mix of kettlebell and calisthenics-based offerings.

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program.

If you’re a fitness professional and love the Precision Nutrition approach, check out their certification offering. To say it’s comprehensive is an understatement.

Wherever You Are, We Are.

In addition to the main site, you can share your strength-training passion with a like-minded community on :

Wherever you like to hang out, get your regular dose of strength. Straight to the Bar.

'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.
Drawing of Scott Andrew Bird performing a deadlift. Artwork by Vince Palko.