Grip Training Tutorial, Part Three

Posted: February 15, 2012 in Articles
Last time, we got down to brass tacks and talked about how to boost your crush grip strength. Without further ado, let’s do the same for the next strength element in the succession.

Pinch Grip Strength:

The ability to pinch down on an object and control its movement is a very useful but rarely trained thing. Pinch grip helps us a lot when we’re ripping things and picking up odd objects that don’t have a good gripping surface. It isn’t hard to notice that, as we age, our ability to do things with our hands is often curtailed. Arthritis is often blamed, but the simple fact of the matter is that we don’t keep our hands strong. How often have we seen an elderly friend or relative struggle with ripping a single envelope of junk mail? Let’s not be that person. Let’s train some pinch grip, people.

Construction materials are classic, ideal implements to train pinch grip. Bricks and cinder blocks are both really fantastic. If you’re just starting out, and your pinch grip needs work, just reaching down and gripping a brick, then supporting it with the grip between your thumb and fingers will be a good starting point for many. Move your grip further and further toward the edges to control the twisting force of the brick as you get more confident.

From bricks, we can move to larger cinderblocks. You’ll find a variety of looks and sizes in the home improvement store. Try ‘em out. They’re usually less than three bucks. The classic “figure eight” cinder block with two square cells is the gold standard here. Literally anything you do with a full cinderblock is going to work your grip like no other. There are videos here that demonstrate some of the ways to do this stuff. Remember, with any type of brick, block, or other rough surface, you HAVE to wear some gloves. I mean it.

Other stuff in this vein? 2×4 boards can be used like a barbell, with a few buckets of sand or some other heavy material hung from them. Just pinch from the top and hoist ‘em. There’s no reason to make these things overcomplicated. I say that it’s better to think your way toward your goals, rather then try to spend your way there. There’s a cheap-ass way to get there with every type of strength I’ll mention here, I guarantee it. If I haven’t thought of it, hey, that just leaves a little for your own imagination to grind upon.

If you have access to gym equipment, weight plates are EVIL when used to train pinch strength. Start with two or three five pound plates, pinched together and raised off the ground (careful of your feet here, as with anything you pick up). Work your way up until you can pinch the big 45s together and pick ‘em up, and you’ll have gone somewhere.

The worst of all evils with plates is the plate curl exercise. While this is a somewhat static-based strength, because it is a primary thumb training method, I’ll include it here. the idea is that you pinch a weight plate from the edge, then lever it up in a curl. This is also a brutal test for your wrist. A person who can plate curl a 35lb plate is a bad mama-jamma, but a person who can do it with a 45 is to be regarded with fear and awe. I’ll try to post up a video of this in the near future, so you can see what I’m talking about.

In the end, anything you can exert force upon in a pinching vector (hopefully not another person!) can help you train in this way. Pinch strength, if taken to the extreme, can allow certain light but strong individuals to do things like jumping up and grasping the rafters in a basement and holding on. The absolute pinnacle of pinch strength is the pinch block pull-up. For most of us, though, that’s not going to happen. Pinch grip is also highly stressed in doing things like bending coins, ripping phonebooks, and ripping decks of cards. In daily life, thumb strength can be a strong benefit to athletes in contact sports, anyone who works with their hands, and especially massage therapists.

Next time, we’ll talk about static grip strength.

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