Quick grip work piece

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Quick grip work piece

Postby VeganEssentials » Fri Sep 10, 2004 11:42 pm

This was hastily written over the course of a few workdays that stretched into the early morning hours, so it isn't overly complex, but for anyone wanting to get started in grip work it'll provide some ideas and places to get equipment!

For almost every lift, power starts with the hands, so if you neglect this important aspect you're going to hold back your overall progress. Just as well, your hands are used in everything else outside the gym, and it never hurts to strengthen that which gets the most use. Besides, when have you had to rely on using your rear deltoid strength to open a jar with a stuck lid? This article will focus on the different types of hand and wrist work that you can do to increase your strength in what might just be the most important area that often receives the least amount of direct work.

Crushing Grip Work
The most common area that most people seem to possess interest in working, it is easy to train, but in all honesty it is not the most effective grip work you can do for carryover strength to other lifts. Having a strong crushing grip is fantastic, but it won't really help you hold a weighted barbell longer or hold more weight than you're used to. If you want to crush things in your hand or hold a tight grip on something it can't be beaten, but that's the majority of the extent it has for application. Also, it typically is believed that a crushing grip equates to a powerful handshake (and vice versa), but this also is not necessarily true. Your best bet for work on crushing grip is to purchase some quality grippers and work up progressively to reach higher and higher levels (most people working to close the Ironmind #3 gripper as a final goal), though other implements such as the Ivanko Super Gripper will do well for working to improve crushing strength as well. There are a few places that you can find great high-quality grippers at, including the following:

http://www.ironmind.com - Ironmind, makers of the popular Captains of Crush grippers

http://www.wwfitness.com - Makers of BeefBuilder grippers (similar to Ironmind grippers, but with a wider range of difficulties to work with)

http://www.handgrippers.co.uk - home of the Baraban grippers, these are excellent quality grippers in a wide range of strengths, and not only that, you can choose materials for your handles and even customize to have them engraved if you'd like!

Pinch Grip
One of the best overall grip strengths you can work on, pinch gripping has great carryover appeal to holding onto odd objects and can even assist to some degree with a better hold on barbells and dumbells, so I cannot stress enough that you'll want to work this one. Pinch gripping can be trained on many everyday items (I've used square rocks, narrow width packages that come into my warehouse filled with books, etc.) Though, the most common items used are either weight plates pinched together smooth side out or something like the IronMind pinch grip block which allows you to vary the weight easily. If you can pinch a pair of 25 lb. plates you've got a good grip, 35s and you've got a very good grip, and if you can manage a pair of 45s you're among the top pinchers out there. Don't miss out on training this one!

Static Hold Grip (endurance grip work)
Here's one that will work to improve your gym lift grip considerably! For example, I used to struggle to hold 225 for 20 seconds without straps before my grip would die out and I'd drop the bar, but consistent work on static holds took me to new levels, up to the point where I've been able to hold 500 lbs. for over 40 seconds. Work them hard and heavy, striving to add weight or time to each workout and you'll see your holding grip shoot up considerably. I recommend starting with the weight of your max deadlift to try and hold for 10-15 seconds for 3 sets. Once you've got that, either tack 10 lbs. on the next workout or try to add a few seconds to the time - whatever suits you better. Be prepared for the brutal effects on your hands, but the payoff will be fantastic if you train it hard for a few months.

Thick Bar Work (grip and wrist work)
Thick bar lifting is extremely valuable and can be applied anywhere you'd normally use a barbell or dumbbell. Just be prepared to be humbled when you find that by using a 2" or larger diameter bar that your poundages will be almost guaranteed to be cut down considerably as holding on to the bar will be tough enough. But, keep at it and eventually you'll be surprised at the weight you can handle. The best part is, once you go back to regular-sized dumbbell handles, the weight will seem light as a feather.

Levering (forearm/wrist work)
There are many ways you can do levering - with a sledgehammer (or similarly weighted object), a kitchen chair, or anything else that you can use your wrist to tilt something forward or back to strengthen it. You can easily make your own leverage bar by taking a broomstick and taping off one end (so plates can't slide off and stay secure on the end), slide a light plate down to the end (start with 2.5 lbs just to learn the feel) and secure it in place. If you want to start really like, take a common household broom and use that - if the handle is long enough, even a 1 lb. head on it will provide a challenge to someone trying this for the first time. My wrists used to be in terrible shape from spraining them over the years, but doing levering and other wrist work has brought them to be in better shape than when I was far younger. This type of work will be especially valuable for those of you who spend a lot of time in front of a computer by helping stave off things like carpal tunnel syndrome through additional strengthening of the wrists.

Bending (wrist work)
Definitely not my own strong point, but if you want to build some powerful wrists, bending will definitely get you there. Start with some thin round stock (3/16" is best) that's around 7" long, roll it up in a towel, grip tight and bend that thing! There are a few different techniques that work well, so take a look at http://www.geocities.com/ltgodfrey/home.html for more info on bending. If you can do a 1/4" piece of round or square steel at 7" or shorter you're a force to be reckoned with and have some solid wrists, if you can get to where you can bend a piece of 5/16" round steel stock of 7" or less you've got world-class wrist and bending strength. Best way to train cheaply is to find a local hardware store that carries long sections of round or square bar stock in the diameter you need, cut them down with your own saw and make your own stock to train with. If you can't find a location near you that supplies round and square stock, check out htt://www.fatbastardbarbellco.com as they sell cut stock in varying diameters and lengths.

This should be a fair overview on some of the major types of training that you can do to build up your grip and wrist strength. There are hundreds of exercises out there that can be done with improvised equipment (pick up a copy of John Brookfield's Mastery of Hand Strength for tons of ideas, or check out Ironmind.com's monthly Grip Tip!) so there's no excuse for not having the equipment you need to train with. Now, get out there and start gripping!
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Postby Heyutang » Sat Sep 11, 2004 1:47 am

Ryan,
got a picture somewhere explaining the pinch gripping?
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Pinch gripping

Postby VeganEssentials » Sat Sep 11, 2004 5:52 am

Heyutang,

Here's a couple of links for you to check out for examples (keep in mind, Wade Gillingham who is in this clip is the champion of pinch gripping and may be the best ever!)

http://www.cyberpump.com/albums/album150/aaa.wmv

It shows a few good clips of various pinching feats -

The first one is a dual feat of pinch and thick bar work, with the Inch dumbbell replica in his right hand (2.47" diameter handle, 172 lbs. and damn near impossible for anyone without a super grip to get off the floor, and the 50 lb. Blob, half of an old York dumbbell end that's been cut off and is a standard for having a strong pinch grip) Only one or two people have been able to lift the Inch dumbbell and actually walk with it, and probably only a few dozen people can lift the Blob to waist height, a select few can walk it for distance.

The next clip is of Wade pinching 6 10 lb. plates together and lifting them to waist height - I think only one other person has managed to do this feat, though many people can do 4 or 5 plates. You have to have some large hands to wrap around far enough to get a grip on how wide it would be (nearly 6" across the top) and a pinch of steel to keep the plates together. Figure, with a solid block you only need to pinch hard enough to pull it from the ground, but with plates you have to squeeze so much harder to keep them from sliding apart as well!

The third feat is of Wade pinching 6 10s again in one hand, but he's also pinching 3 25 lb. plates in his left hand, too! Both are world-class feats, but to be done together is almost superhuman.

4th feat is of a pair of 45 lb. plates pinched together and then passed around Wade's body a dozen times. Most people would be incredibly thrilled to just pinch and lift them off the floor, but Wade does it easily enough to make it look too darn simple.

Last feat is pinching a 45 lb. plate by the hub - the old York plates he's using had a larger hub in the center that was around 2.5"-3" across and could be pinched with fingertips and lifted (if you were incredibly skilled in this type of grip work). Not many people do this as finding plates that have hubs which you can pinch are not common, but Ironmind also sells a hub replica that you can attach to a loading pin and adjust weight as necessary. 45 lbs. is a big amount to lift with this, especially with a plate as you have less surface than the Ironmind hub, plus the weight distribution is far more awkward.

Hopefully this clip helps to put a visual shot to the explanation for pinch gripping!

Ryan
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Postby Heyutang » Sat Sep 11, 2004 6:09 am

yep everything clear now! Thanks for taking the time for posting all of this!

Tom.
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Postby JP » Wed Sep 15, 2004 5:06 pm

ryan, this piece is fantastic! Once we get our finger out and get the articles section ready, please bang it there :)
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Postby Heyutang » Tue Sep 21, 2004 2:27 am

I tried a bit pinching yesterday, with three 10 lbs weights. No problem with my right hand, but my left hand struggled really hard, and gave up! Is it normal there is an imbalance between left-right?
I must add that I broke my left wrist half a year ago, and since then it still hasn't healed 100%, so that probably also counts.
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Postby VeganEssentials » Tue Sep 21, 2004 2:42 am

Heyutang,

For almost everyone, you'll find an imbalance in grip/wrist strength between hands. Think this way - one hand is almost always dominant and gets used more frequently (which will develop more dexterity, coordination and strength) and the other lesser used hand will likely have some catching up to do. I don't think I've met anyone with completely equal strength between both hands, so expect that it will take some work for both to be on a level field for strength. Good job on pinching the 3 10s, by the way - keep it up and you'll have 4 down soon enough!

Ryan
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http://www.vegancats.com

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Postby PaHulkster » Tue Sep 21, 2004 5:31 am

I'm definitely stronger in my dominant (right) hand. This is somewhat suprising because I write with both hands, and have played guitar excessively for years. I'm working on balancing them out now, though. Right now I'm trying to develop an overall grip building routine, and when I'm stronger I'll focus in on the Ironmind #3 certification. I want to be the skinniest person to close one, haha.
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Postby JP » Tue Sep 21, 2004 6:51 am

PaHulk, you have pretty damn tough competition on being the skinniest to close #3, there are some really small dudes on that list!

Also, the Holle brothers (3 of who closed #3 and Nathan Holle who was third to close #4) are all vegetarians :D (sorry, just have to tell that at every opportunity!).

But be it smallest, largest, skinniest, ugliest, what ever, it is still quite a feat, so go for it!

How's your #2 work going?
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Postby PaHulkster » Tue Sep 21, 2004 7:39 am

I didn't know the Holle brothers were vegetarians.

I need to wait until I get my stupid car fixed before I can order my #2 and #3. I'm fairly confident that I'll be able to close the #2 when I get it, but we'll just have to see. I have a number of other tools to use for crushing power for now, though.
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Postby JP » Tue Sep 21, 2004 8:35 am

many strong men have failed to close #2 in one go my friend :D I've seen big deadlifters totally humbled by the bastard.

Anyways, keep us updated on how it goes!
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Postby Mary » Tue Sep 21, 2004 10:04 am

This should definitely be stickied. 8) I lifted my plates for the squats today between fingers and thumb. Hurt a bit when the plates got up to 50k, so I stopped. My hands and forearms are hurting more than my arse for once after a squat! Hurts to type.

Serves me right for trying to be macho. :lol:
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Postby PaHulkster » Tue Sep 21, 2004 9:21 pm

[quote="Mary"]This should definitely be stickied. 8) I lifted my plates for the squats today between fingers and thumb. Hurt a bit when the plates got up to 50k, so I stopped. My hands and forearms are hurting more than my arse for once after a squat! Hurts to type.

Serves me right for trying to be macho. :lol:



You pinched gripped 110lbs?
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Postby Mary » Tue Sep 21, 2004 9:39 pm

One plate of 30 k and one of 20 k when loading one side of the bar. Didn't do it again though! :lol:
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Postby PaHulkster » Tue Sep 21, 2004 9:58 pm

But you pinched and lifted 50k with one hand? Or was it both? That lift with one hand is a very serious lift.
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