Get a Stronger Grip

TAGS: Chris Vaughn, grip strength, grip, program, training

BACKGROUND

I am no grip expert. I think the Diesel Crew members could probably crush my hand, but I hope to help anyone looking for something effective with the Captains of Crush Grippers.

Please note that this article is about crushing grip strength. There are many types of grip, such as pinch, block, hold, Blob, etc. I may cover these in other articles if enough individuals show interest.

I'm just an amateur, so why should you listen to me?

  1. I don't use straps—ever—except when they are allowed in competition. I don't need to. My hands don't need assistance holding things.
  2. I have mitts that are about as big as a five-year-old's. People with large hands will get stronger faster. I had a continuous uphill battle, but I prevailed in the end.
  3. I can smash the No. 2 closed without a warmup at any time. (I rarely perform formal grip workouts anymore.) A while back, I sold most of my grippers, but kept my Heavy Grip 250, which is a little harder than a No. 2. I can close it with ease for reps with both hands. Unlike most skeletal muscle, it seems that hand strength rarely diminishes over time.

My first piece of advice? Buy all the grippers at the same time. I realize that it is more expensive, but it's worth it in the long run. Get the Trainer, then 1-4 (or all of the Heavy Grips) in one order. Why?

  1. The easiest grippers, no matter who you are, are good for warming up. You may also need them if you can't close the CoC 1 or the 150 Heavy Grip
  2. You'll save on shipping.
  3. When you finally do close your goal gripper, you're going to need the one AFTER the next one you want to close for negatives (see below).

Trust me--it's the best idea.

My second piece of advice: forget repping grippers. There's absolutely no reason to go above a few reps unless it's on a bar bet or for bragging rights. The reasoning is easy: when lifting a barbell, nobody opens their hands and closes them between reps.

I suggest purchasing the Captains of Crush over the Heavy Grips. I've used both the CoCs and the HGs, and the CoCs, in my opinion, are more durable and not as hard on the hands. By all means, though, the Heavy Grips will work just as well in getting you strong as hell.

In addition, get yourself a spring-loaded clamp from Home Depot, like this one:

This is necessary to work the thumb. Considering the thumb is the base upon which the gripper will rest and the fingers will press, it also needs to get stronger. The thumb pad will harden over time with consistent use.

There are three ways to get stronger with the grippers. Two are no-brainers, but may not yield the best results. The other is much more involved. They are:

  • Grease the Groove: carry the goal gripper at all times and squeeze it several times per day. Do five second negatives alternating with five second crushes (holds with gripper closed) as often as time permits. Try to keep track of the reps and increase them as the weeks go on. Deload as needed.
  • Use the grippers during normal workouts. Superset the regular work with them. Alternate as outlined above. This environment is ideal, as the hands are already warmed up and it doesn't really take any more time as opposed to doing a separate grip workout.
  • Periodize: This is the best and the most difficult method.

I actually believe one could achieve a great deal of success using the 5/3/1 principles. I recommend this, but I will outline an alternative that involves much more volume. This is the one that I used to strengthen my hands. I trained six days per week for two years. I went from not being able to close the CoC Trainer to repping the No. 2 and very nearly closing the No. 3. The No. 3 is in a different world, though, and will take a lot more work for most people.

THE PROGRAM

 

I'm going to assume the following:

  • One has access to all of the CoCs.
  • One is trying to close the No. 2. I believe most strength athletes will dominate the No. 1 with very little training.

 

Before every grip workout, warm up the hands. This can be done with a Wrist and Forearm Blaster, squeezing a tennis ball, crumpling up newspaper, moving the fingers around, etc. I was often sweating after warming up my hands, but I sweat when I tie my shoes, so...

Here are some terms to keep in mind:

  • Set: bury the gripper as deep into the palm as possible. Push the bottom of the gripper with the opposite hand toward the working hand. Make sure all of the fingers are wrapped around before letting go. This is the ideal starting position.
  • Crush: smash the life out of the gripper. I mean it. Grind the handles together like you're delivering punishment.
  • Negatives: using the set, push the gripper shut and then do a five second eccentric movement. Don't fight; let the gripper open, but resist enough so that it takes five seconds.
  • Holds: holding something in the gripper to insure that it's shut. I suggest a penny. This takes some serious gripper mastery.
  • Thumb: put both thumbs on the clamp and rest the other side on the index fingers. Smash it shut and hold it for five seconds. If one isn't strong enough to close it, hold it as close to shut as possible.

If anyone is confused, just let me know. I will upload videos that will demonstrate all of these terms and techniques.

On days off and between workouts, massage and ice the hands. They will get very sore during the heaviest phases of this program, so take recovery seriously.

Lastly, after mastering a gripper, it is possible to make it harder by filing down the inside end of the gripper. It makes the gripper harder to shut as it has further to travel to be completely closed. This is optional, though, since it's not possible to replace the shaved metal.

There is no excuse for skipping workouts. These can quite literally be done on the toilet or anywhere else.

Week 1

 

Monday Through Thursday

  • No. 1 Crush
  • No. 4 Negative
  • No. 1 Crush
  • No. 4 Negative

Thumb x 5

Week 2

Monday Through Friday

  • No. 1 Crush
  • No. 4 Negative
  • No. 1 Crush
  • No. 4 Negative
  • No. 1 Crush
  • No. 4 Negative
  • No. 1 Crush
  • No. 4 Negative

Thumb x 6

Weeks 3 and 4

Monday Through Saturday

  • No. 1 Crush
  • No. 4 Negative
  • No. 1 Crush
  • No. 4 Negative
  • No. 1 Hold

Repeat this ten times for a total of fifty reps.

Thumb x 15

Week 5

  • Active Rest

Warm up the hands, recover them, and squeeze the Trainer. Give the central nervous system a break, but make sure to work the hands lightly in preparation to start this cycle again.

Toward the end of my grip affair, my grippers were covered with my skin. I had to scrub them down before I sold them. Keep in mind that I went on vacation and did grip, took holidays and did grip, did grip when I got sick, etc. No excuses. Let that goal gripper mock you until you smash it shut and grind the handles.

If anyone uses this and successfully closes a goal gripper, please take a video of it and send it to me. I would be very happy to post it.

Good luck!

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