The Functional Hand Strength Gripper Buying Guide


A plastic gripper next to the
Ironmind Guide Hand Gripper

Our mailbox is constantly flooded with letters from folks looking to start some serious hand strength training with Ironmind hand grippers but who don’t know which ones to get first. In order for you to choose the right grippers to get started with, we put together this page with some tips and other important gripper-related things to keep in mind.

We will begin by looking at the hand gripper level that most trainees are most familiar with: the “sporting goods store hand gripper.” As pictured on the right, these kinds of hand grippers usually have plastic or wooden handles and are ridiculously easy to close. While they do have their place, (warming up, for example) they are just about useless when it comes to building a powerful grip. The average poundage on these is around 30-45 lbs- not enough to get a real workout in with.

A trainee with only average hand strength can usually close one of the sporting goods models at least a few hundred times or hold it closed for several minutes. If you want to get the job done right, you will need a gripper that is a little more challenging to close.When it comes to developing “beyond natural” levels of hand strength, the Ironmind Captains of Crush hand grippers are your best training option.

The Ironmind Captains of Crush Grippers currently come in ELEVEN different strength levels, ranging from “easy” to “near impossible” (at least for most people). In the chart below, you can see how these grippers stack up and the best place for you to begin:

Our suggestions:

In the next section, we are going to make some gripper choice suggestions for various types of people. Before we begin, please keep a few things in mind:

1. We have found that to train with the hand grippers effectively, it is best to have at least three hand grippers at your command; one that you can close easily for a number of reps; one that you can close for a moderate amount of reps and one that you can just barely close or can’t quite close yet. Having a selection of grippers to work with will provide great variety in your program.

(We have heard reports of someone who bought several hand grippers (not from us, thank goodness) who opened them up one by one. He tried them in order and immediately asked for a refund for the ones he could already close which is the kind of attitude that will never allow someone to get strong hands.)Lighter grippers certainly have their place…

2. In case you’re wondering, strength developed in most other types of training does not “carry over” to gripper training and vise versa. For example, just because you can deadlift a lot of weight doesn’t mean that you will automatically be able to shut the #2 or #3. It is going to take specific training with grippers to get good at them. The whole point of having hand grippers is to use them as a training tool…a tool that will allow you to gradually build up your hand strength levels. Develop the strength so you can apply it effectively in a particular sport or activity. Skill work, however, can only come with practice of that activity.

3. If you have been active with your hands or have been training for several years, chances are you will have the strength to close the #1 gripper at least once. For training purposes we recommend starting with a gripper one level below the one you can close at least one time. Again, the key concept to remember here is “training”…It is very difficult to train progressively with a hand gripper that you can only close once, this is why it is a good idea to have more than one level of gripper to train with. (Just about every serious grip trainer ends up getting a full “set” eventually.) It is important to have as many training options as possible.

If you are new to gripper training:

We recommend getting the Guide, Sport and Trainer. The lighter grippers are simply a better choice when starting out, especially for those with little or no experience. With these hand grippers, you will be able to develop your technique as well as use them for high-rep skin “toughening” training which is especially important for rock climbers where tough skin is very valuable.

Toughening your skin is also necessary if you ever hope to become a master at tearing phone books or tearing playing card decks or driving nails with your hands or closing heavy grippers. Those who are adept at these advanced strength stunts will tell you how important it is to have tough skin.

If you have prior hand training experience but not with hand grippers or by training with sporting good grippers:

We recommend starting with the Trainer, #1 and #1.5. (Keep in mind that almost everyone gets a whole set at some point so it is probably a good idea to get them all at once.) As we mentioned previously, the lighter grippers can be incredibly valuable. Don’t underestimate their importance.


Get a Grip With Joe Kinney!


WATCH THIS FIRST! – Get a Grip! – With Joe Kinney DVD Trailer Click above to view (Video Has Sound)


Get a Grip! With Joe Kinney DVD
Scenes from the DVD:


Joe Kinney, the man himself, teaches you exactly how he trains


Joe’s Famed #4 close — which
has to be seen to be believed


Severe negatives,
– Not for the faint of heart!


The Floor Model Grip Machine


Details of “The Secret Weapon”


Let Joe open a beer for you…

Watch the classic GET A GRIP Video along with TWO HOURS of New Footage from the first man to CRUSH the Ironmmind #4 Gripper!

In 1998, Mr. Joe Kinney from Bean Station, Tennessee became the first man in the world to close the Iron Mind #4 gripper. You could make a pretty good case that Joe has been the only man to do so. Yes, a few others have added their names to the list since then, but none have had as much of a dominant performance as Joe… to say that he “closed” the #4 doesn’t do it justice, he absolutely mashed the #4 and made it look like a toy. Something no one else has been able to come even close to doing.

Remember, the #4 was the gripper that they said would never be closed and was created as sort-of a joke. At 5’10 and 175-pounds, Joe wasn’t a strongman, or even a weightlifter, but just a guy who made it his own personal challenge to build some of the strongest hands in history. — and he most definitely did. Joe closed the #3… and not long after, stepped into the record books as the first man to CRUSH the 365-pound Ironmind #4 gripper… Well, a short while after he became certified, Joe thought that a lot of people would be interested in learning some of his unique training methods as well as seeing actual footage of his incredible #4 close so he put together a training video entitled “Get a Grip!” with Joe Kinney.

In my opinion, this video containing the best grip training information ever put on film and anyone who has seen it would agree. In recent years though, Joe became busy with some other projects and had to put the video on the back burner. It became unavailable for several years.

In a stroke of luck I was able to track down Joe Kinney. When we met up I asked him if I could re-release his grip video on DVD and he was all for it. We are now proudly making Joe Kinney’s original Get a Grip! DVD from 1998 available once again!

Topics Covered:
  • Joe starts off with a bang, MASHING the Ironmind #4 Gripper ~ the only #4 close ever caught on film
  • How Joe performs reps and “severe negatives” with his grippers, and the method he uses to avoid tearing up his hands
  • If you want to build strong fingers, you also need strong wrists – learn the innovative way that Joe trained with his homemade wrist roller – “Pay here!”
  • Training with the floor-model gripper, necessary modifications, positive reps, negative reps, single hand holds, how to prevent cheating, and more
  • Building maximum thumb strength – strong enough to drive your thumb through a full beer can – Joe does it
  • “The Secret Weapon” Grip Machine – and how Joe trained with it in order to finally conquer the #4
  • Joe’s thoughts on DETERMINATION – easily worth the price alone, and some of the very best training information that you will ever hear
  • Footage of Joe “bustin’ beers” – his hands became so strong that he could grab a can of beer in a strangle hold and squeeze it until it exploded, an incredible display of crushing power

The original 1998 Get a Grip! with Joe Kinney video is approximately 41 minutes and is now available on professionally replicated DVD. Also, the DVD also includes a commentary track, added especially for this special edition version. Shot in the summer of 2009, the commentary features Joe Kinney and I talking training, revisiting topics from the original DVD and adding further details and insight.

GET A GRIP! With Joe Kinney

Order by Phone: 1-800 -978-0206

GET A GRIP! Special Edition
— TWO MORE HOURS of EXTRA FOOTAGE! —
As I mentioned, besides the thrill of talking to “the man” himself, one of the reasons behind my trip was to ask Joe if it would be possible to re-release his 1998 video. Thing is, after sitting down with Joe and hearing about the many training questions that other people had sent him over the years, I thought it might be a very good idea to interview him, and include this additional footage on the new DVD…

In the summer of 2009, we finally got a chance to make this happen. I thought that we would get maybe 15-20 minutes of new footage to include in the new dvd, but when two serious grip guys start talking training… well, time slows down a bit.

It sure didn’t seem like it took long but with the cameras rolling, two hours later we had covered everything I could think of: details on gripper training… proper technique for the secret weapon… what a typical gripper routine looked like for Joe… how things changed from training for the #3 and for the #4… building maximum thumb strength… wrist roller training… his special early morning “Testosterone for Breakfast” squat routine… training with The “Monster Gripper” … We not only re-visited information and topics from the original video, but were able to discuss some things that Joe did not get a chance to include.

And so, now you too can learn grip training secrets from Joe Kinney himself with the brand new special edition “GET A GRIP!” DVD which includes the original 1998 video, additional commentary voice track and two more hours of additional interview footage with Joe Kinney that did not appear on the original version. – Quite frankly, there has never been a better grip training DVD ever produced. If you are into grip training in any capacity, then you simply MUST get a copy of this DVD.

Train hard,
John Wood signature
John Wood

GET A GRIP! With Joe Kinney

Order by Phone: 1-800 -978-0206

Testimonials and Reviews:
The Joe Kinney DVD is excellent. No frills but pure info. When a man who has developed hands like that puts you in his training quarters and talks honestly that can only be great. I also appreciated his technical forethought and improvisation to make new implements. He was a man not to be denied and that is inspiring to us all.

Bill Crawford
…By the way, I received and watched the new Joe Kinney video, all I can say is ,”Wow.” That is by far the best Grip video I have ever seen. You really covered everything in a very understandable, and usable manner. I learned a lot about grip training that I never knew. The most important thing I got out of it was the absolute determination, and persistence to forge ahead to reach your goal, whether it be to close the next level gripper, or anything else you tackle in life. This video is going to be a definite best seller, and anyone buying it will be well pleased.

Carl Windle
Got my Joe Kinney dvd today and it is awesome. Nice job to both of you as it doesn’t get much more straight forward than that. Easily one of the best training and instructional dvd’s I’ve ever seen. The “thumb through the can” thing is ridiculous!!!

Aaron McKenzie
Hi John I’ve just received the Joe Kinney “Get A Grip” DVD. I must say I am very pleased with the it, so full of inspiring information. Well done John for making it possible to obtain this long awaited DVD.


Charles Arnold
… I just wanted to tell you that the Joe Kinney DVD is awesome!!!!! My wife Amy ordered it for me as an early Christmas present. Thank you so much!!! It really does inspire me to hurry up and close the No. 3 gripper.


Carlos Rodriguez
… Just received my Joe Kinney DVD yesterday. I started watching it and only got through the interview part. I just had to email you to say that this DVD is awesome. Joe Kinney is an inspiration to all those who think they can’t and especially those who think they’re too old. He shows that with a lot of hard work and determination, you can achieve any goal that you set your sights on. I commend you on a job well done. Joe Kinney is a great man and a great inspiration to all those who train to achieve super strength the good old fashion way — HARD WORK. Thank you again John for a great DVD,

Bobby Avvisato
Hi John I’ve just received the Joe Kinney “Get A Grip” DVD. I must say I am very pleased with the it, so full of inspiring information. Well done John for making it possible to obtain this long awaited DVD.

Tony Valente
I purchased the Joe Kinney video and I am very impressed. He is one determined man.

Bob Collins