Getting Started with Heavy-Duty Spring Hand Gripper Training

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!

Train hard,

John Wood

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.

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