Pretty much every time a gym bunny (male or female) thinks about grip training you can bet that a gripper, as they are termed by the masses, is what comes to mind. In the grip sport we call them TSG’s or Torsion Spring Grippers. Even then there are two usual kinds. There’s the familiar version which looks like an inverted V and the kind where a spring is moved up or down to increase or decrease tension/strength of resistance. You can also add David Horne’s Vulcan Gripper as it’s both a V shape and uses a moveable spring.
Standard shop brands
Now there are what many shops and brands such as Argos, Gold’s Gym, JJB et al call ‘strong’ grippers. I’m afraid that for the
Gym user with more than a few months under their belts such levels of ‘strength’ are a joke. You’ll find yourself repping them multiple times – 20 plus us nothing. The plastic handles and weedy looking springs are the reason why they can often be brought for under a fiver and even the ones with some sort of tension adjustment are… well I’d break one if I was of a mind to.
More serious brands
The absolute minimum standard for what makes a gripper a little more edgy or hardcore is what Bill Morrison of Heavy Grip (the grip guys shorthand this to HG grippers) grippers was aiming for. So you’ll get a lightly knurled and chromed handle, lacquered black springs and yes a few can actually be on the tough side. Here in the UK look at Charles Rinaldi and Co’s www.heavygrips.co.uk (aka www.ultimategrip.co.uk as they sell other items). They lack the extra bite of sharper knurled and more serious grippers but for most of you they will do the job. He also, at one time (now collectable), produced two more monstrous beasts the HG400 and HG500. I’m fairly sure that, to date, his reward of a $500 bounty for closing his HG500 under specific terms and conditions remains unclaimed.
Of the more serious brands there are a few where some of the more famous strongmen have certified on some levels. Ironmind’s Captain’s of Crush grippers are the standard by which most are compared and their No 3 gripper and No 4 gripper (and more recently their 3.5) are of a level that by closing them you get a nice level of Kudo’s. I managed their No 3 gripper back in either 2000 or 2001. I’ve closed their 4 under competition conditions (indeed three different ones in one day) but not under the certificate requirements. I am regularly able to close the 3.5 when training using TSG grippers (I’m currently working with the Vulcan at the mo). Check www.ironmind.com Also worth a google is Robert Baraban and Beefbuilder grippers.
How to use them – lets get you started
A quick plug for you internet ready about to give grip training a go freaks… I authored many years ago an e-book entitled ‘Grippers and how to use them’ (see link below). It’ll take you through the basics and a little further. Plenty of photos and text to get you teeth into and way more info than this oh so brief article will cover. But I’ll still get you started.
Check out fellow Captain of Crush Paul Knight’s very good youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qj9Ue9co4us Paul shows you how to position ANY proper gripper on your hand to get what we call a good set.
As for sets and reps. Any time I am asked I always say if you train for strength in any form then there’s no need to deviate too far from what usually works for another muscle group when working the hands. Sure the forearm muscle fiber type differs from say your pecs but what works for X will usually work for Y. It’s a good place to start at least and then you can add or take away as required.
Finally and as with any proper training in order to get big or strong you’ll know by now it’s not easy. The same applies to grippers. You’ll need to work hard – damned hard – if you want to get good. Do not pick up a more serious gripper and then train in a lazy ass way and expect results. If it’s easy then the gripper piss weak and you need to get a harder one and up your game.