When Strong Hands Meant Life or Death

When Strong Hands Meant Life or Death

A look at K2

We are always on the lookout for out-of-this-world feats of grip strength and you would be amazed at some of the ones we have discovered in some very unusual places.

One of these amazing feats occurred on the ice covered 28,250-foot K2, the second tallest mountain in the world. K2 is known in the native Mongolian tongue as Karakorum (Or “The Great Mountain.”) It is one of the darkest and deadliest peaks on the planet.

K2 was discovered in 1856 by British colonel T.G. Montgomery. As he was surveying the area, Montgomery named the peaks in the order that he saw them, K1, K2, K3, etc. K2 has the distinction of being the only current mountain still referred to by it’s surveyor’s notational name.

The first attempt at climbing K2 occurred in 1902 when a six-man group, led by the Englishman name Eckenstein thought they were up to the task. Unfortunately they had severely underestimated their abilities and after several unsuccessful tries, abandoned the expedition.

The first American attempt occurred in 1938 when Charles Houston and a group from the American Alpine Club signed on. They were highly successful and made it farther than anyone had even gone before but they didn’t quite make it to the top. They decided not to push their luck and commenced with their descent

As a result of the war, no expeditions were made to K2 until 1953 when a group of Americans was headed again by Charles Houston, who was eager to finish the work he had begun on the 1938 expedition. This expedition was also very successful but as they made the preparations for the final attack of the summit, Mother Nature made her presence known in a big way.

A violent snowstorm that had been brewing for a while finally let loose. Thanks to Houston’s foresight, the group had enough food to last them for another 10 days and they bided their time hoping the bad weather would blow over.

It didn’t.

Adding to their woes, one of the members of the group, Gilkey, developed a blood clot in one of his legs making him unable to move. A vote was taken and it was decided with the weather being the way it was and with the state that Gilkey was in, along with the fact that another member was experiencing severe frostbite in his feet, it was now a fight for everybody’s life and a descent would be the best idea. Braving nature’s fury turned out to be even more difficult than was first thought.

During the first day of the descent they only made it a few hundred yards down from their previous position. As is the usual procedure, the group had all been tied together though in two separate teams. Sometime during the early evening, the ropes of the different teams became entangled.

Suddenly, one of the climbers, George Bell, lost his footing and fell, pulling everyone else with him!

The only reason that the entire group did not plunge to an icy death was that they were connected to a rope tied around Pete Schoening’s waist. Pete had dug in and held fast to his trusty ice axe! It was the power of his hand strength alone that had saved the group from certain death! Unfortunately Gilkey would later meet his fate when he was whisked away by a night time avalanche. Other than Bell who had serious frostbite and needed medical attention, the rest of the group eventually made it to the bottom of K2 safely.

Pete Schoening went on to climb five of the world’s seven tallest peaks. At 68 years old, he even set his sights on Mt. Everest. (It was this expedition that was featured in the Jon Krakauer book “Into Thin Air.”) He passed away in September of 2004.

Sometimes life can come at you pretty hard and it is difficult to know what to expect. It was the incredible hand strength of Pete Schoening that saved the lives of himself and six other climbers on K2.

Whether you decide to become involved in adventure sports or never leave your front door, one thing is for sure, it always pays off to train hard, train smart and be ready for whatever comes your way.


Train hard,

John Wood

Why Navy SEALs Need Strong Hands

Why Navy SEALs Need Strong Hands
Since I am in the grip business, I tend to notice grip training information in unlikely places…
…things I probably wouldn’t have noticed otherwise… It’s a Repo Man kind of thing. (If you’ve seen the movie and you’ll know what I’m talking about… plate of shrimp… plate of shrimp...)

So anyhow, yesterday I was flipping through my copy of Navy SEAL Physical Fitness (by Pat Deuster PHD) and what did I see? Here are two charts directly from the Official – Issue Guide of the Naval Special Warfare Command. I know this information comes as no surprise to many people (especially to the many special forces members who visit our site regularly), but it just goes to show much of an influence stronger hands have on just about every physical activity:


Something I would NOT agree with is the part about squeezing tennis balls to build grip strength — seriously? I mean you know the Navy SEALs are serious about what they do, why not get some serious equipment to train on. I think pretty much everyone would agree that Ironmind Hand Grippers will fit the bill…

I think that last paragraph is the most important part of this whole chart. Yes, grip training is important but it is only one piece of the puzzes (an oft neglected one though.) Make your hands stronger, make your body stronger, get in shape, work on your flexibility — become a complete athlete.

Train hard,

John Wood

P.S. If you want to climb ropes like the Navy SEALs, get 2-inch Diameter Manila Climbing Ropes or, for us mere mortals, click here to get a top quality 1.5″ diameter manila climbing rope.

Grip Training for Rock Climbing

“How Stronger Hands Will Help You Master The Rock”
– Grip and Forearm Training for Rock Climbers –
As a climber, your hands can never be strong enough so you had better train them. In this section I will illustrate how specific grip training can be of tremendous benefit to rock climbers and some things to keep in mind when designing a physical training program.

First of all, it should be understood that to get better at rock climbing, you have to spend a lot of time on the rock. When your goal is to develop a skill, there is no substitute for practicing the skill itself. However, climbing is an extremely physically demanding activity and there is a definite limit to how much actual climbing your body can take before it starts to break down.

Taking time off is physiologically and psychologically a good thing. With training, you can take advantage of the down time in order to strengthen your “weak links” to help you become the best climber you can be.

Let’s take a look at what we are trying to accomplish within a rock climber’s grip training program:

1. To strengthen the “high use” climbing areas
2. To increase muscle, tendon, and bone strength and the durability of related soft tissues
3. To correct muscular imbalances
4. To toughen the skin
5. To increase blood flow to hasten healing/recovery
6. To increase flexibility


In short, we are developing “strength” through training which can then be applied correctly and more efficiently through actual climbing. Again, none of this is a substitute for climbing itself, but attending to these areas will help you climb more efficiently when you do get the opportunity. The diagram below illustrates the major components that we are training to become stronger – the fingers, thumb, wrist, and elbow/forearm.

* Strengthening the Fingers and Thumb:

Rock climbers ask a lot from their hands and put them in very extreme positions of stress. As a result, we need to train them through a full range of motion to strengthen every possible joint.

This can be done very efficiently with heavy duty spring hand grippers. The knurling of the hand grippers offers a very efficient way to toughen the skin which the actual training matches the strength curve of the human hand providing a very efficient training method. Hand grippers are portable and 1a different levels allow for effective progression.Muscles will get stronger and tendons and ligaments will strengthen over time. This will not happen overnight but over the course of many workouts. The thumbs are involved in hand gripper training but a tremendous source for building thumb strength as well as “open hand” strength is to use thicker-than-average training bars. You can find out more information about those right here. Another method would be to put the smooth side of two barbell plates together and lift as needed.

* Strengthening the Wrists, Forearms and Elbows:

Often the elbow problems that many climbers experience occur as a result of a muscular imbalance between the flexors and extensors and this can easily be corrected through proper training. You should also spend time training the pronation/supination and radial/ulnar deviation.

* Rest and Recovery:

Frequent climbing sessions (and frequent training sessions) will need to be spaced far enough apart in order to facilitate recovery. The body will repair itself through time if given the chance. Many climbers climb (or train) far too often, which increases the chance for injury. Active rest and non-climbing physical activities will help to increase blood flow and allow for healing to take place. As far as hastening recovery of the hands themselves, here is something to look at: the Finger Fitness program.

* Training the Whole Body for Climbing:

There is much more to climbing success than simply strong hands. A climber who only relies on hand strength will not last long – the hands will wear out in short order. Since climbing is a full-body activity, it necessitates a full-body training program. While climbing appears to only involve the “pulling” muscles, in reality, every major muscle group is involved and should be trained with a variety of basic exercises.

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“Why Stronger Hands are the
Ultimate Secret Weapon”
The unique training equipment and methods for building superhuman grip strength are now at your fingertips…
John Wood does a 140 lb. one-arm dumbell snatch at Dr. Ken Leistner’s place.

Everyone is looking for an edge — that one thing that is going to give them an unbelievable advantage in every situation…you’ve come to the right place – this is where you will find that edge: hand strength, grip strength, wrist strength, forearm strength — whatever it takes to develop your lower arms to the max. Thank you for coming to Functional Hand Strength, the World’s Best Hand & Grip Strength Training Instructional website.

My name is John Wood this is the place where you will find what could be that “one thing” – hand strength! We provide top quality grip tools and training courses that will truly make the difference in your routine. You see, I was lucky enough to discover the importance of stronger hands a long time ago.

Back in high school, I started training my grip for football and I’ve never looked back. Building an “Iron Grip” helped me excel in every sport I played, whether it was on the football field, in the weight room, or in some other athletic event. Of course, I made plenty of mistakes along the way too, mistakes that you can learn a lot from.

There are plenty of ways to build brutally strong hands…and there are many ways to waste your valuable training time too.

I know…

I’ve done my fair share of each over the years but the important thing is that \throughout the process, I was able to find out which training techniques and methods work (and what to avoid at all costs). Now I have decided to share my extensive knowledge and let others in on the grip training “secret weapon.”

Of course, hand strength is only the beginning — you can’t build strong hands without knowing how to strengthen everything else, which is why throughout this website you will find materials for building all kinds of unusual strength. That’s why I created this website, to provide you with only the very best grip training products and training information. Accept nothing less for your training.

I fully believe that anyone who really works at it can develop a pair of hands that they can be proud of, but you have to know how to do it right…and that’s why we’re here.

Bookmark this page!


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Where to Begin

In the boxes below you’ll find some of our most popular products. As far as training goes, the cornerstone of every grip training program should be “finger flexion,” or the “crushing movement” – this aspect is trained very effectively with hand grippers andwe carry the top brand in the industry: Captains of Crush from Iron Mind.

These grippers are now available in 11 resistance strengths to help you “climb the mountain” toward an iron grip one step at a time.

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