How to Make a Really Weak Gripper Worth Your While
This is a guest post from Jedd Johnson. Jedd is a strength coach and confessed grip-aholic. He enjoys nothing better than lifting weird stuff, bending, tearing and breaking stuff, and teaching others how to do what he does. Join him today at The Grip Authority and start developing your own WORLD CLASS GRIP STRENGTH. It never fails.
Every year, loved ones think they are doing us a favor by picking us up new training equipment, so they get us the next crazy gadget on the infomercials or pick us up something from the supermarket.
Even though they do have the best of intentions, you know there is no way you are going to be caught dead using the shake weight in public.
And those little $10 grippers that come from places like the sporting good stores in the malls, even pre-pubescent girls can close those things, so surely they are trash as well, right?
Not so fast, brother. Don’t re-gift those grippers just yet.
There is indeed a way to actually get some use out of one of those crappy grippers, which I will show you in just a little bit.
First off, let’s take a look at the hands and the way you hold the barbell in some of the major lifts.
What is the common thread between all of these lifts that should be staples of your training routine?
Bench Press, Deadlift , Squat
There are actually many answers to this question, but one of the things that you may not have thought of is the high importance of having strong hands in order to perform at a top level in each of them.
Think about it like this…
Bench Press – If you have weak hands, you won’t be able to track the bar down and back up like you want to. If the bar is all over the place, you might miss your lift, or worse yet, you might dump it on your throat.
Deadlift – If you can’t see the importance of having a mighty grip in this movement, then you must either have mighty hands like Murph or you just don’t get it.
Squat – When you get the bar out of the rack or mono-lift, you need to squeeze the bar hard. This activates more musculature in the arms, shoulder, and the upper back making you more stable. Doing this right can add 20 pounds or more to your max squat.
So, how does all of this relate to using that weak-ass gripper in order to get a benefit?
Well, one of the things that people often forget about when they train their grip is their thumbs. The thumb is actually there for a reason, guys. It is there to offer some serious back-up to the fingers, especially the index and middle fingers on lifts like the deadlift, bench and squat. By overlapping the thumb on top of the fingers you can do a lot toward assisting your grip throughout a heavy single against bands on the Deadlift, some speed reps on the Bench, or a competition PR in the Squat.
Unfortunately, like I said, most people neglect their thumbs in their training and this leaves a giant hole in their armor, especially in lifts like the ones mentioned above, and also in other big strength and muscle builders like Pull-ups, Heavy Rows, and other lifts where Grip Strength and Endurance are important. For all of these, having thumbs that are strong enough to back up the first two fingers is as valuable as having a wingman at the bar – we all know how important that is.
So below are some reasons to keep those obscenely light grippers in order to work the thumbs.
Basic Pinch Closes
Grasp the gripper in what is called the Key Pinch Position and perform closes, making sure the handles touch on each rep. Set yourself a goal of XX Repetitions, hit the weak hand first and then the strong hand.
Progressive Pinch Closes
In a Key Pinch position but with the gripper turned perpendicular, perform one repetition on the very end of the gripper handles, and then move inward about the width of one thumb width and perform another repetition. The closer you get to the spring, the tougher each rep will be,
Holds for Time
Pick a spot somewhere on the handles of the gripper and get into position. Squeeze the handles together and hold for time. To make it more fun, try doing something crazy with the other hand while you Pinch. Bouncing a basketball or juggle flipping a flaming bowling pin works well for this one.
Again, pick a spot somewhere on the gripper and perform Speed Closes. Make sure that on each repetition the handles touch but go for some serious density, like 50 reps in 30 seconds. Naturally, add or subtract reps based on how tough your gripper is.
Here is a video showing you exactly how to perform each of these drills with your pussy-strength gripper:
By the end of this succession, you thumbs should be blown up like hot water bottles at the circus. You will really feel it the next day, the lingering morsels of pain when you turn a doorknob or adjust your car’s stereo, like when you check your goatee in the mirror after eating Christmas cookies or “glazed doughnuts.”
This little workout will take you about 5 to 7 minutes total. Do it once or twice a week and I guarantee you your thumbs will get stronger and you will see differences in your grip strength levels, and also improvements in your core lifts.
Until next time, all the best in your training and Happy New Year.
If you want more Gripper Training instruction, then check out my latest DVD, CRUSH: Total Gripper Domination