View Full Version : My Renewed Interest in Grip and its Place in GPP

07-30-2006, 10:32 PM
Like many people bitten hard by the iron bug, I went through a "grip-mania" phase in which I spent more money than I'd like to admit on grippers and other grip tools. After about a year of meager gains in the grip department and even more paltry gains in overall body strength from neglecting the basics in the gym, my grip tools went into storage.

Fast forward four years and here we are. Over the past two months, I've had carpal-tunnel-syndrome-like symptoms and after some time of lessened computer use and upper body work, as well as judicious ice and heat, it has gotten to the point of being tolerable and trainable.

In an effort to shut the door on this problem, I've been doing light grip work again. I dragged out my Captain-of-Crush grippers and was horrified to realize that closing the "trainer" with my good hand was now a challenge and even a single rep was impossible for my weaker hand - forget about the #1 I used to close for more than a dozen reps, or the #2 which I had bought in the hopes of one day closing!

Humiliated, I decided to start my grip training by doing farmer's walks using my "Husky-Handle Dumbells" with four 25lb olympic-sized plates. I used to have no problem carrying the 55 or so pound dumbells for great distances when I was using them regularly. In fact, four or five years ago, I would often challenge the high school football players to farmer's walk for distance with them and, just to make sure I won, would use 75 or 85lbs per dumbell. This time around however, 55lbs is more than enough and walking much more than 10 yards is a challenge.

Here's is what happens when I use the dumbells now; not only are my hands and forearms screaming from years of undertraining, but as I do farmer's walks with the DBs the rest of my body is trying to make up for the "power leakage" that I have because of my weak grip. My shoulders, biceps, triceps, traps, and even my glutes are trying to make up for my weakened grip.

So, what's the point? Well, as we all search for that one special exercise or the Holy Grail of training systems that will propel our numbers from the masses of "people who lift weights" to the realm of "freaking monster!", it pays to step back and look at our general conditioning and those seemingly small links in the chain that can hamper our forward progress. The PTs and S&C coaches have all embraced "core" training as all-important, but not everyone includes "extremity" training, such as grip and plantar flexion, as integral parts of building a proper foundation for continued gains.

If you are like me, and being really strong is one of your goals, don't neglect your grip. No, you don't necessarily have to do specialized exercises for it, but it needs to be challenged - whether it's by doing the monkey rings or the latest grip gadget offered by Ironmind, make sure you get a grip!

07-30-2006, 10:34 PM
Nah, you should be doing levering for your carpal tunnel.

07-30-2006, 10:42 PM
LOL! Thanks for the extensive input! I agree with everything except the "nah" part.

edit: Oh, and I am doing extensor exercises as well which seem to help.

07-30-2006, 10:51 PM
I have poor grip, but I haven't gotten to the point where I need to work on it specifically. I'm still somewhat new to working out and am more worried about other things. But, thanks for the heads up.

07-31-2006, 12:55 AM
For me, grip is one of the funnest things to train! Its something that I know will directly transfer to the field - i.e., my bench may not help me in my next match, but a killer grip will!

Also, its one of the few things you can really show to people. So you can squat 500 lbs? An impressive feat, but try explaining it to the common man and its just a number. Got a massive grip? Smash a potatoe in front of someone, and he'll get the picture!

07-31-2006, 01:26 AM
Great post Sensei!

Linky to one of those gripper captains of crush mijigs?

07-31-2006, 07:27 AM
Linky to one of those gripper captains of crush mijigs?
Here you go zek.. http://www.ironmind.com/ironcms/export/IronMind/Main/captainsofcrush1.html

Sensei.. great post and love your honesty.. takes a strong man/woman to admit his weaknesses and the path that got them there.

You remember the help you gave me with my grip problems... (http://www.wannabebigforums.com/showthread.php?t=77727)
Grip overtraining can be a bad thing too.. so don't go too fast..
And besides the Farmer's Walk, I have found sledgehammer drills a blessing for my grip..

Clifford Gillmore
07-31-2006, 08:19 AM
I like sledge rotations for forearm work, and I retension a cheapie gripper I bought everytime I can close it for 15 reps.

07-31-2006, 12:11 PM
Sensei, do you perform any type of deadlifts, regularly? I'm a little surprised you had that much trouble with the trainer, being as dedicated a lifter as you are. Maybe you ahve some early stage arthritis or something?

I've barely trained with my Heavy Grips grippers since I bought them, but I was able to close the 200 without too much fuss the night they were delivered. A couple weeks ago, just messing around at work, I had the 250 to less than the width of a quarter from closed.

Really the only time my grip is taxed while training is during heavy dumbbell press, and heavy SLDL. I hit it hard with dumbbell rows, but I've missed several back sessions lately. I do think it makes a big difference, though. I never use straps for deads. I try to double-overhand as heavy as possible, up to within 50-60lbs of my max, usually.

I should also add that I have TINY hands. 7 inches from base of palm to tip of middle finger, and my fingers are very thin.

07-31-2006, 09:45 PM
Thanks for the replies fellas!

Thanks for the reminder. Yes, definately you can get too much of a good thing. I don't plan on doing much beyond maintenance work once I get back to a respectable level of strength... I've long since given up aspirations of pinch-gripping a pair of 45s, lifting the Thomas whatever DB, etc...

I haven't been doing deadlifts regularly and that's part of it. Most of it's the wrist issues. Just a couple of months ago, I was DB rowing somewhere around 120s for no problem - so the sudden change is bit troubling.

It used to be that only high rep deadlifts with a overhand grip really taxed my grip, but that's obviously not the case now. I'm prioritizing it now because it's so weak, but I think that most people in strength sports could benefit from including some grip work in their GPP. Probably the same could be said for neck work (although, to be honest, I've done neckwork probably 3 or 4 times in my entire life)...

08-01-2006, 01:21 PM
No, really, you shouldn't be worried aboout flexor strength so much!

A lot of carpal tunnel issues are related to imbalance between flexors and extensors, though usually from chronic light (ab)use like typing.

Reverse rollups and levering and even light band work are important!

08-01-2006, 02:47 PM
Working your grip is what separates the pretty boys who train from the truly strong.

08-01-2006, 09:26 PM
No, really, you shouldn't be worried aboout flexor strength so much!

A lot of carpal tunnel issues are related to imbalance between flexors and extensors, though usually from chronic light (ab)use like typing.

Reverse rollups and levering and even light band work are important!
No, I got you Mix - you're right. Like I said, I am doing extensor work and levering is something else I need to take some time to do. The carpal tunnel rehab was not so much the point of the post as the importance of including grip work in GPP. Certainly opposing muscle group work (case in point - extensors) should get their due in GPP.