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.


3-Gripper Combo Sets are a Wise Choice
A Complete Set Offers The Most Training Options

Regardless of the sport, we feel that every serious athlete should have a full set of hand grippers, at least up to the #2. If you are training to close the #3 gripper, you face a very difficult task but with perseverance, hard work and an intelligent plan it can be done.  Several very effective training methods can be performed with grippers which are on the difficult side, cheat closes, timed holds and forced negatives are among them which is why we suggest having as many grippers to train with as possible since it opens up your training options substantially.

Recently, a good friend of ours took a Trainer, an Ironmind #1 and an Ironmind #2 to the Arnold Classic Strength Expo. He had all the top professional bodybuilders have a go at them. As big and impressive as those guys were, only one of the top guys was able to close the #1 and none of them could close the #2. (We’re talking about guys with forearms bigger than most people’s legs!) Functional muscle? I don’t think so. It is true that these men were put on the spot and that they very likely had little hand gripper training experience. However, it is our opinion that when you are serious about training you should be every bit as strong as you look.

Training with the Ironmind Captains of Crush hand grippers is one of the very best ways to develop strong hands. There are few accomplishments in all of strength training that are as satisfying as hearing the “click” of the handles of a gripper that you have been struggling with for a long time.

Otherwise, this article should help clear up a lot of confusion on which hand grippers to choose but please feel free to contact us if you have any more questions.

Train hard,
John Wood signature
John Wood

P.S. For for information on Iron Mind grippers, you’ll want to visit this page.

The Captains of Crush Hand Grippers Are The #1 Hand Gripper In The World

Why The Captains of Crush Hand Grippers Are The #1 Hand Gripper In The World
When it comes to grippers, the Captains of Crush hand aren’t probably the best, aren’t possibly the best, aren’t maybe the best …they are THE BEST.
Did you know there are currently over 17 different companies making hand grippers all over the world? Yes, many options indeed. Before we hung out our shingle at Functionalhandstrength.com we took a long look at all the hand gripper choices out there. While there are plenty of options to choose from there was only one choice for us – THE BEST. That is why we feature the Captains of Crush line from Ironmind.

Ask any athlete who is serious about hand strength development, “Who makes the best hand grippers?” …the answer will always be the same: Ironmind. Strongmen, football players, boxers, wrestlers, gymnasts, weightlifters, musicians, rock climbers, combat athletes, golfers, tennis players, kettlebell athletes – go with the Ironmind Captains of Crush hand grippers and you go with the choice of the pros!
Check out this very cool ad for the Ironmnd Captains of Crush Grippers from the inside cover of the Japanese edition of Ironman. Yes, the Ironmind Captains of Crush hand grippers are undoubtedly the #1 brand of hand grippers in the world — and you can train with them too!

Train hard,


John Wood

P.S. If you want to get started right away with developing your bone-crusher grip, visit this page and find out which Ironmind hand grippers are right for you: The Functional Hand Strength Hand Gripper Buying Guide

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

Hand and Grip Strength Products

Hand and Grip Strength Products

JOIN THE IRON LEAGUE! …Some have called it “The Iron Game Library of Congress” which is a very good way to put it, and it is our goal to create our own “place” …where everyone speaks a common language… and can ‘talk shop’ on what works and what doesn’t in the world of serious training. You’ll find material from the Golden Age of Bodybuilding, Grip Training, Steel Bending, Olympic Weight-Lifting, Powerlifting, Gymnastics, Boxing, Wrestling, Conditioning workouts and just about any other training topic you can think of. More info…

NEW! Joe Kinney’s Little Monster Gripper

Recently, Joe Kinney came across another source of springs, springs that are slightly smaller than the ones used for the Monster Gripper but still very formidable. For those seeking another unique training tool for building super human crushing strength, Joe dubbed his new gripper “The Little Monster” and it sits roughly half way between the Iron Mind #4 gripper and the Monster Gripper. More info…


NEW! FHS Pulling Rope

When you are around strength training as much as I am, sometimes it’s easy to overlook some good ideas… The good news is that they eventually seem to come back around. Let me give you a great example: A little while back, the idea popped into my head that I should take a harder look at sled pulling. Don’t ask me where the idea came from, I sure couldn’t tell you, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. More info…


E-Books

Kindle e-books We feature several of our titles on the E-Book/Kindle Format. We have posted all our e-book titles on this page for quick and easy viewing. New titles will be appearing often. More info…


Get a Grip! With Joe Kinney

In this groundbreaking DVD, you can see the original “Get a Grip!” video, put together by the first man to close the IronMind #4 Gripper, Mr. Joe Kinney. You’ll learn all about his training equipment, his workout ideas and more importantly: his results.

Includes the only footage of the #4 gripper ever closed on film plus over TWO HOURS of additional material, shot in the summer of 2009, where Joe Kinney revisits his training and offers insight and instruction not found in the original video. More info…


Gift Cards

Gift Cards

Can’t think of the perfect gift? Give the gift of strength with a Functional Hand Strength Gift Card. Available in $30, $50, and $100 denominations, they are the perfect gift for trainers, athletes, musicians, or anyone who wants to gain some serious strength.These gift cards can be used on any of our websites. More info…


Ironmind Hand Grippers

Iron Mind Captains of Crush Hand Grippers

The gripper that changed the world! You will feel the difference quality makes when you train on the original Iron Mind Captain of Crush Grippers. It was Iron Mind that put hand grippers back on the map in the late 1980s. Even today with a whole slew of imitators, the Captains of Crush Grippers stand alone as the highest-quality grip tool you will find and the undefeated leader in the field of hand strength development.

Now available in ELEVEN strengths! Do YOU have what it takes to reach the top of the mountain? More info…


Top Quality Manila Climbing Ropes

Rope climbing is one of the very best exercises for serious athletes. If you are looking for a single exercise that will increase your grip strength and train every other muscle in your entire body, rope climbing is it. Our high-quality manila gym climbing ropes are made of the finest quality 3-strand grade-A manila and come with a steel clamp on one end for easy installation and removal. The other end of the rope is covered by a polyboot to prevent unraveling and promote durability during heavy use. More info…

Outdoor Climbing Ropes

Polyplus Outdoor Climbing Ropes

Our Synthetic Polyplus Outdoor Climbing Ropes are ready to battle the elements and have you swinging from tree to tree like Tarzan in no time flat. Choose these synthetic climbing ropes if you plan to do any outside climbing. More info…


Gorilla

2-Inch Thick Climbing Ropes

Want to be stronger than King Kong? — I’m sure everyone would agree that rope climbing is a serious workout… There’s no other exercise quite like rope climbing for building a “gorilla grip” and a sturdy back. Our traditional 1.5-inch diameter climbing ropes provide a number of interesting exercises for any routine….but more and more athletes have been clamoring for a new rope climbing challenge and so here it is: More Info…


Old School Arm Wrestling

How to Be a Champion by Ernie Jeffrey

If you want to learn what it takes to be a Champion Armwrestler, Ernie Jeffrey can show you…he coached some of the best in the game and put his theories down on paper. One of our scouts found a few mint copies of his incredibly rare training book published in 1977, so grab your copy now and become a real “terror” at the table. Arm wrestling rules and techniques have evolved over the years, but the need to build strength and power haven’t changed since the beginning… More Info…


You will find very little, if any, modern sources on hand-balancing available anywhere…until NOW that is. Thanks to strength author, historian, and publisher Bill Hinbern, the lost art of hand-balancing lives again… This training guide provides dozens of interesting techniques and supplementary exercises to get you hand-balancing like a champ in no time. More Info…


Dr. Ken’s Original Log Bar Trainer

Years ago, Dr. Ken Leistner trained with a unique parallel grip bar that Arthur Jones devised at the old Nautilus plant in Deland, Florida. Dr. Ken experienced tremendous results with this bar and a few years later had his own version made up. Now you can train with the very Log Bar made to Dr. Ken’s exact specs. Perfect for overhead pressing, rows, bench pressing and hammer curls, this Log Bar comes with a complimentary Log Bar training booklet written by Dr. Ken himself and is ONLY available at FHS. More Info…


The Log Bar Training Guide

The Log Bar Training Guide

The first and only training guide specifically written for parallel-handle Log Bar training. This 8.5″ x 11″ 55-page training guide includes material by John Wood, Dr. Ken Leistner, Pat Povilaitis (who wrote on log bar training for strone lifting), and a special overhead pressing program from Brooks Kubik. It also features just about everything you would ever want to know about how to use the Log Bar for the best results. More Info…


Climbing Rope Accessories and Attachment Hardware

If you’re setting up a climbing rope, you are going to need the right hardware to safely and efficiently attach it somewhere. We provide several options to handle a variety of installation needs, including I-Beam clamps, Wood Beam hangers, and Pipe Clamp hangers.

All manila rope orders come with the L-1 link (pictured at left) which will help you connect your rope to your specific type of attachment hardware.We also offer several custom options for your rope, such as various types of knots (monkey paw, “big knot,” and ball stop), a “rope hoist,” and the highly practical “tambourine.” More Info…


FHS Short Rope

FHS Custom Short Rope

…well this got us to thinkin’ – how about if we combined the great hand strength benefits of climbing ropes with something portable enough to be used just about anywhere and by just about anyone? The result was the FHS CUSTOM SHORT ROPE.This custom piece is one of our classic three strand manila ropes cut down to a much more manageable length.

These ropes feature all of the great components which make them the best ropes out there except that they are only three feet in length! Perfect for carrying in a gym bag. More Info…


Finger Fitness Guide Book and Instructional DVD

Finger Fitness Guide Book and Instructional DVD

The Finger Fitness Program has been in development for over 20 years and originally began as a small booklet. Over the years, it has grown and grown until now it incorporates an 80 page instructional manual as well as a 63 minute step-by-step demonstrational DVD. More Info…


Finger Fitness Guide Book and Instructional DVD

ADVANCED Finger Fitness DVD

The new ADVANCED Finger Fitness program provides 15 exercises which are level coded from 1 to 5 for ease of use. These exercises are ideal for use as warmups or short breaks in the workplace to enhance and maintain flexibility and dexterity. More Info…


Dinosaur Training by Brooks Kubik

If you are sick and tired of screwin’ around with garbage training information then Dinosaur Training is the book you have been searching for!Dinosaur Training features in-depth training information on: Sand Bags, Barrel Lifting, Power Rack Training, Thick Bars, Heavy Grip Work, Tendon and Ligament Training, Effort, Dedication, Perseverance, Concentration, Determination, Mental Toughness and much more. More info…


The Official Functional Hand Strength Logo T-Shirt

What does “The Human Vise” Pat Povilaitis wear when he performs his extreme strength feats? Camo pants, lifting shoes and the Official Functional Hand Strength Logo T-Shirt of course!This high quality 50/50 Cotton-Polyester blend is the coolest t-Shirt on the Net. Our logo is featured on the front and back along with our motto: “Earn it.” Available only in kick a$$ black. Sizes: Medium, Large, XL, XXL, XXXL. More Info…

Reading List

Reading List From time to time, we come across books and other resources that we really enjoy but that we don’t actually carry — in case you are looking for something new and interesting to add to your reading list, check these out: More info…