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.