Getting Started with Heavy-Duty Spring Hand Gripper Training
Of all the emails that we have received at the FHS office, I would estimate that at least 75% come from people wanting to know how to close spring hand grippers. I’m a big fan of hand grippers and I don’t know if there is a more satisfying feeling in all of strength training than finally hearing the “click” of the handles of a gripper you have been working on for a long time.
Gripper training is also very worthwhile since it is also, one of the very best methods of strengthening your hands. I believe that developing the “crushing” strength is much like the “squat” of grip training. It works a lot of muscle mass brutally hard, directly and throughout a full range of motion working the entire arm and forearm.
When it comes to gripper training, there are two different modes of thought that you should be aware of.
Many people look at hand grippers as a goal or a personal challenge in-and-of themselves. The hand gripper can become very powerful motivation for training but in this way of thinking, closing it is the only goal, the other benefits from training become secondary.
I have even heard of some guys who base their entire training routines around grippers (and little else.) This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though I believe it quickly turns into overtraining, disappointment, frustration and subsequent quitting.
It is also easy to think that since you are dealing with a small muscle group that it can “take more punishment.” This is a bad move.
The other way of looking at hand grippers is a way that I have noticed many people tend to forget about: that of a training tool. While many people get caught up in focusing on closing the heaviest gripper they can for a single repetition, all that really matters is that you keep getting stronger, and this can mean with multiple reps or with the “lighter” grippers too. As long as you keep making progress, closing the heavier grippers will happen. I look at this as a win-win situation.
My training is a blend of these two styles. While I am focused on closing the #4, I also realize that as long as I get stronger every workout and keep making progress, it becomes just a matter of time until I get where I want to go.
I also want to clear up one thing up right now: in order to develop super strong hands, with grippers or any other kind of grip training, it does NOT take hours and hours of training. Many people seem to be under the impression that it is necessary to close a gripper for hundreds of reps in order to become stronger. While marathon workouts are certainly impressive in one regard, the fact of the matter is that they are more often than not a big waste of time.
What we are looking for is quality, not quantity.
The first thing that you will need to know when beginning a gripper program is how to choose the right gripper for the job. Remember, this is for training, not practice.
Up until a year ago, the Iron Mind grippers came in 4 different strengths which are very well known by now: The Trainer, #1, #2, #3 and #4. Recently, Iron Mind came out with two new grippers, the Guide and the Sport. These grippers are one and two notches below the Trainer.
If you are just starting out with gripper training and you do not know which grippers to get first, I would recommend getting the Guide, Sport and Trainer. I say this for a number of reasons, first of all, say you jump right into the harder grippers and you choose one that you can only close once or twice-how are you supposed to train with that?
You are going to need the lighter grippers to build the proper form and technique and quite honestly, do some higher rep work to get your skin used to the knurling. You can get the harder ones later and you should, as it will be necessary for the sake of progression to have them all. In fact, you will end up getting the whole set at some point. Trust me, I know from experience that it’s hard to stop at just one.
I see lots of guys who balk at the lighter grippers and as soon as they close one, trade it away. I think this is a big mistake, as I said earlier, the grippers are tools for building strength and the lighter ones can have tremendous value.
Let me tell you, even though my #4 progress is coming along nicely, the Guide and the Sport have become a welcome addition to my training. I am now able to do some single digit work and dynamic thumb work with these that has been impossible with the harder grippers.
Now that you have chosen the proper grippers, we can move on to the key aspects that you must incorporate into your workout-coming up next!