Gripper Training

Gripper WorkI want to talk a little about grip training, and grippers in particular. There are many ways to do grip specific training that do not require you to buy any equipment whatsoever, but grippers are the “gateway drug” of the grip world so to speak.

No matter what your goals are in working out, improving your grip is a must. Hanging from a pull up bar, dumbbell curls, dead lifts, rows, cleans, carrying luggage or groceries, yard work, closing a deal with a handshake- you name it and your hands are what make it happen. Improving hand strength and health can improve so many facets of your life, its a wonder more people don’t take better care of their hands.

Brooks Kubik talked about it in his book “Dinosaur Training”, and talked about how many don’t focus on grip due to the fact that despite gains in finger/hand strength your not going to get bulging finger muscles and wrists. I believe he is correct in his observations, and that despite all the “functional” training going on today, grip strength still takes a backseat to big “visual” muscle building. Saxon, Inch, Jowett, Goerner, Ashton, The Mighty Atom and many other old time strongmen had tremendous hand strength.

Now everytime you pick the weights up, you do work the grip in some fashion, but to build up the hands specifically, will add a new dimension to your training. On the big heavy lifts, the use of straps will go away. When you grip the bar and squeeze the life out of it to build tension for pressing movements, you will do it more efficiently. And your hands will be capable of controlling more weight longer, with less fatigue.

How to add grip to your training
I suggest using grip work as a finisher, as a seperate workout all together, or on those days where time for a full workout is not there. I don’t recommend using grip work as a pre-exhaustion work except in the case of arm work.

I’ll give ideas for home made equipment, and other exercise in another post, but grippers are a cheap, durable investment that will last you years and many workouts.

What gripper to start with?
I started with the Trainer, and the #1 grippers from “IronMind”. These are the two that 1- let me know that these were not the store bought plastic grippers, and 2- got me hooked on hand strength training. From there I went to the #2, and so on. I have several other brands to help close the gap in difficulty between the #2 and #3, but that comes later.

Basic “setting” and closing (see pictures)
“Setting” the gripper is term used for positioning the gripper in the hand prior to closing it. There are two basic “sets”-

  1. Parallel set- this is where you have the gripper in hand, and have worked the fingers fully around the outer handle. The handles should appear to be parallel to each other or wider. This set will make some of the heavier grippers easier to close due to the shorter range of motion, and the fact that your fingers are around the outer handle.
  2. Credit Card Set- to do this merely get the gripper in hand like you would with the parralel set, but this time you have to allow the handles to open until you are able to fit the width of a credit card between the bottom of the handles before closing ( “IronMind” uses this set as the standard for certifying on their #3 and up. It is alot more difficult of a set, and if your cursed with small hands as i am, you will have to work that much harder to get it closed.)

Both setting techniques have their place in training, just like regular deadlifts, and partial deads.

Closing the gripper
The gripper is considered closed, when the bottoms of the handles touch, without assistance from the other hand or any other part of the body. Pretty simple.

(In the photos, I am parallel setting a Beefbuilder Super Master, credit card setting an IronMind #2, and the close is the finish of the Super Master.)

Let me warn you though, if you let the grip bug bite, its had to get rid of. I have been working grip now for 6+ years, and even if I neglect it for a time, I still have the itch. There is a whole other world of strength feats out there to enjoy.

Below are some links to check out. I am not affiliated with them in any way except as a customer.

This is an outstanding company. Their line of grippers, Captains of Crush, are top notch, and the companies delivery and customer service are awesome.

This is by far the best video on setting a gripper. If you are not familiar with, I highly recommend you check them out.

Till next time, take care and good lifting,


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1 Comment

  1. Love the post. Diesel S/C is awesome.


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