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Are Grippers a Waste of Your Time

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Grippers – Are You Wasting Your Time?

In many of my videos and DVD’s, I have said that Gripper Training is a waste of time.

This is a statement that catches many people by surprise when they hear me say it, since I do Gripper Training on a regular basis.

After about the 50th time getting asked what I mean by this, I decided to put together a quick video to explain.

Why Grippers are a Waste of Time

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As you can see, sometimes Grippers ARE a Waste of Your Time.

Naturally, if your objective is to close big grippers just for the sake of closing big grippers, then you NEED to train grippers, and you need to train them the right way.

If you want to maximize your Gripper Training, then you need these resources:

CRUSH – Total Gripper Domination: The Video Encyclopedia of Gripper Training Technique and Crushing Strength Development. If your gripper technique is lacking, there’s no drill that will help you get to your ultimate gripper goal. This video will make sure you’re doing everything right.

Cadence Based Training: This is an 8-week Gripper Training program that works by helping you strengthen the entire range of motion of the gripper sweep. The drills in the CBT program will help you strengthen your set, improve your sweep, and ensure that you’re strong enough to finish off your goal gripper.

My hope is that the information in this post will help you get the best results from your training, and maximize your training time as well as possible.

Thanks and all the best in your training.


Gripmas 2015

Monday, December 14th, 2015

On December 5th, Luke and I competed at Gripmas, the yearly December contest in Crooksville, Ohio, hosted by Chris and Teresa Rice.

This has quickly become the biggest and most prestigious single-location contest of the year, aside from the NAGS Championship. Many athletes from the Central United States and East Coast came this year, and over the years countless people from outside this region have made the trip, because of how important this contest has become.

There were 4 events for this contest. First was the Ivanko Super Gripper. The unit is held opposite the direction torsion spring grippers are held. There is a small flashlight mounted at the bottom of the gripper, and the objective is to close the handles together and make the flashlight button click, while changing the off/on status completely.

Ivanko Super Gripper – Various Competitors

Here are some of the attempts I got on film of the ISG event.

At this point, I sat in 3rd place behind Kody Burns and Andrew Durniat.

The next event was Two Hands Pinch, with the adjustable pinch apparatus. The first heat of lifters to go were the ones who used the thinnest setting, 52 millimeters. Next came 54mm, 56mm, and 58mm. The adjustable device is used so that lifters can match the width of the implement to their hand size, and produce their best lifts.

If you’re interested in buying an adjustable two hands pinch device, watch this video: Napalm Pinch Devices.

Here are some of the attempts from the contest.

Two Hands Pinch – Luke Raymond and Chris Rice

Luke has been competing and training at 58mm for several months, but switched to 56mm for the contest, and ended up getting a new contest PR!

Two Hands Pinch – Kody Burns Sets New All-Time World Record

Kody set a new All-Time World Record on the Two Hands Pinch, with 274lbs and change!

Two Hands Pinch – Kody Burns’ 3rd and 4th Attempts

Kody then bumped up to roughly 279lbs and got it off the ground each time.

Two Hands Pinch – Jake Sahlaney’s Attempts

Jake is one of my members at, and is showing improvement at every single competition he does. I’m very proud of him, and hope he continues to train hard and smart, and stay healthy.

Two Hands Pinch – Jedd Johnson’s Attempts

I was able to get my highest lift since 2011 at Gripmas this year, 261lbs. I’ve been in a slump for a very long time. I then made the decision to go to 276lbs and try to break the record, which proved to be foolish, because I barely broke it off the ground, BUT, I was hoping for a big adrenaline boost. I felt pumped, but it just wasn’t enough. I wish I would have just gone with something like 266lbs and then 271lbs, to go into the 2nd place ever, in competition. I think I would have had a good chance at completing 271, because I broke that off the ground in training, prior to the comp. Oh well, can’t go back in time!

he next event was the Double Overhand Axle Deadlift. My goal was to 1st come in second place in this event, behind Andrew, and 2nd, to pull 400lbs. Unfortunately, the 400lb pull didn’t happen, but I did tie for 2nd, so that helped me out with points, big time.

Double Overhand IronMind Axle – 325lbs and above

These are all the attempts I got. The weight starts out around 325 or so, and ends with Andrew’s HUGE attempt at like 460+!!! What a phenom that guy is!

Following the Axle, was the 4th and final event. There was a 4-minute time limit to lift as many items as possible. There was a series of light items and a series of heavy items. If you lifted the lighter item, you got 1 point. If you lifted the heavy item you got 2 points. If you lifted both, you only got 2 points.

Additionally, there were some implements with only one option, and if you lifted them, you got 2 points.

it might seem kind of confusion, but just think the maximum points available was 50.

Medley – Luke Raymond

Luke got 33 points in his Medley run.

The contest would come down to how Andrew, Kody, and I did in the Medley, just like Nationals this year. Going in, the points spread looked something like this: Kody – 38 points, Andrew – 37.5 points, Jedd – 37 points. As you can see, it was crazy close.

Medley – Jedd Johnson

I was the first to go out of the final 3, because I was in 3rd place. I got 46 points.

Medley – Andrew Durniat

Andrew got 36 points.

Medley – Kody Burns

Kody got 36 points as well.

By finishing 10 points ahead of the other two leaders, it enabled me to pull ahead by a very, very slim margin – INCREDIBLY CLOSE!

    1) Jedd Johnson – 37.704
    2) Kody Burns – 36.630
    3) Andrew Durniat – 36.223
    4) Jake Sahlaney – 32.322
    5) Lucas Raymond – 31.281
    6) Chris Rice – 29.461
    7) Josh Henze – 27.638
    8) Nathanial Brous – 24.645
    9) Andrew Pantke – 24.550
    10) Bob Sundin – 23.260
    11) Josh Koenig -23.064
    12) Jor-el Koenig – 19.291
    13) Anthony Clarino – 19.085
    14) Nick Applegate – 17.247
    15) Barrett Henze – 16.749
    16) Chris Andrade – 16.045
    17) Rich Cottrell – 14.047

Gripmas 2015 Placings and Prizes

I really want to send out my thanks to Chris and Teresa Rice for putting this competition together, as well as a huge digital high-five to Brent Barbe, Nick Rosendaul, and Sean Rice, who all helped with set-up, loading, and records keeping for the event. Guys like this are why contests run so smoothly.

Someone pointed out my victory is sort of a Triple Crown, in a way, as I won the NAGS Championship, King Kong International, and Gripmas all in the same year.

I never thought about it that way, but I’m happy to be the first one.

For now, it’s back to the drawing board. Despite the victories, I’m still not happy with the numbers I’ve put up. Luke and I have already begun making adjustments to match our goals.

Stay tuned for more posts coming later this week. Although I’ve posted all of the contest footage, that ain’t all that happened in that small garage in the little town of Crooksville.

I’ve got lots of other cool clips from the post-contest feats of strength.

If you’re not on my free email newsletter, be sure to sign up in the box below.

All the best in your training.


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Easy Grip Training Method for Kettlebell Lifters

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Grip Training with Kettlebells

Juggling a 20kg Kettlebell
While Pinching the
50lb Blob Block Weight

For many kettlebell lifters I’ve talked to, Grip Strength can be a concern.

I’m sure everyone’s familiar with grippers and the occasional thick bar work for grip strength, but have you tried Block Weight Training for a well-rounded Grip?

Block Weight Training is much more effective than something like Grippers for developing full-hand strength. Block Weights tax the thumbs especially, but they also work the fingers, wrists, and forearms well too.

Block Weight Training is often done with heads of dumbbells which have either been cut or broken off the handle, but you can actually accomplish the same open-handed strength by using your own Kettlebells.

Here’s one simple example, a Kettlebell Pinch Deadlift.

Block Weight Grip Training with Kettlebells – 16kg

Block Weight Grip Training with Kettlebells – 20kg

I just hit a single here for an on-line feat list, but you can hit these for multiple reps or even holds if you’d like.

These are great for making your entire hand strong, plus they get your wrists and forearms as well.

I hope you like them.


Take Your Grip Strength to the Next Level with the Block Weight Training DVD

Strength Training and Injury Prevention for Throwing Athletes

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Strength Training and Injury Prevention for Throwing Athletes

Matt Ellis

Most athletes, whether you realize it or not, are throwers.

Think about it. The first throwing sports you may picture are the classics: Baseball, softball, the quarterback on the football team, the shot put, discus, and javelin throwers on the track and field team.

Those are the images that typically pop into your head when you think of a throwing athlete.

What you might not realize is that throwing motions are done in almost every sport. Think of a tennis player serving the ball, a volleyball player serving or spiking the ball, a basketball player making a big outlet pass

How about that same basketball player making a chest pass? Isn’t that a similar movement as a football lineman pushing his opponent?

What about the soccer player throwing the ball in from out of bounds?

Or the swimmer gliding through the water using the same repetitive motions with their shoulders?

These are all throwing motions!

When you participate in sports at the high rates athletes do today, you are bound to have shoulder, elbow, wrist, and finger injuries.

Tommy John surgeries are on the rise as are rotator cuff injuries, labrum tears, and elbow tendonitis. I won’t bore you with the numbers, but the studies are out there and it is shocking how frequently these major injuries are happening each year and that the age of the athletes experiencing these injuries gets younger and younger

Youth sports are more popular than ever. Town rec leagues, church leagues, AAU, All Star, travel leagues, sport specific coaching facilities, position specific coaching, and youth/college showcase events mean your athletes can play their sport 12 months a year without taking a true off-season.

The constant repetitive motions along with specializing at a younger age means the overuse injuries that we used to see in college and professional sports are starting to happen at the middle school and high school level.

You can’t stop younger athletes from falling in love with one sport and specializing early. It happens!

The youth sports movement will continue to grow and overuse injuries will continue to happen at the middle and high school level…

But that doesn’t mean you have to just sit around and weight for throwing injuries to come about.

You can start modifying your training NOW to head those injuries off at the pass.

It’s all about making simple, subtle changes in your strength training.

Watch the video below NOW to learn SIMPLE alternative exercises to prevent injuries in your shoulders, elbows, and hands for all your “throwing athletes.”

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The Effects of Age on Grip Strength

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

The Effects of Age on Grip Strength

By: Chris Rice

    Preface by Jedd Johnson: Is it true you lose strength as you grow older? Are you able to retain any of that strength, or is it all just a lost cause? And if strength diminishes, in general, over the years, are there any forms of strength that we can hope to hold onto? These are questions that are being more and more common all the time…
    Chris Rice, while one of the oldest Grip Sport competitors, is also an experience strength athlete – PERIOD, having participated in Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, Strongman, and Kettlebell Sport, to name just a few of his endeavors over the years – and that’s just since I met him in 2003. He’s also an avid climber, going on several climbing expeditions every year.
    Chris is also a good writer, able to turn his thoughts into the written word with a distinct clarity, not always seen amongst all those in the iron game. It’s my pleasure to feature another piece from Chris. This time he answers the question, What effects does age have on grip strength? Take it away, Climber! -Jedd-

The Effects of Age on Grip Strength

Chris Rice, Grip Nationals 2010
4″ Wrist Roller

I’ve thought about writing this for a while now as I’m in a sort of unique position as I think I’m the oldest active Grip Sport competitor I know of at age 67. The decline in overall body strength with age seems fairly well accepted but the question of age on one’s hand and forearm strength seems much less clear. My overall body strength has certainly declined over the years in spite of my best efforts. I’m sorry about the fact I have to post numbers and this may come across as a bragging session but I don’t know how to talk about my progress since starting into the actual “sport” of grip without putting it into some kind of context that shows my gains were not what could be called “beginners gains”.

Some discussion of age related “peak” abilities should also be discussed. Our bodies seem to develop and then lose certain qualities in a certain order. Quickness and explosiveness seem to be a young man’s game – peaking in the early to mid-20s perhaps. Speed holds on a little longer but strength doesn’t seem to peak until later – perhaps mid to late 30s with a huge amount of variation on both sides of that number. But generally speaking by one’s middle 40s, some decline has started in overall body strength and all other physical attributes. This assumes of course that you have trained and continued to train and compete during the entire time period.

There are basically two kinds of “old” lifters – those who have trained hard consistently over their lifetime and those who started a good bit later in life. There are some considerable differences between the two. I started general weight training in 1959 so I have years of consistent training behind me. Starting training at a more advanced age is going to be considerable different in results – the so called “beginners gains” will occur at any age. It is never too late to start and expect significant increases in hand strength.

Another thing I have noticed is what might be called the accumulated loss of “resilience” – defined by Webster as “the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens” or “the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.” Years of life’s accumulated tweaks and injuries can make or break one’s abilities – and the longer one lives the more they add up. Please read this paragraph again as I think it’s hugely important. The importance of avoiding injury in training cannot be overstated. I have a large assortment of old injuries that I have to deal with that do affect my training and require constant therapy work.

I started the actual “sport” of Grip in 2003 when I found the GripBoard. At that time I had already owned the COC # 1 – 2 – and 3 for several years – I had bought them to try and help my climbing grip strength. I was able to close both the #1 and #2 right out of the package but not the #3 – I believe that if the COC 2.5 had existed then I could have closed it at that time as well.

I trained with them but they were no help for my climbing so I pretty much forgot about them until I found the GripBoard. By the time I found the GripBoard I had been climbing for around 20 years (and lifting consistently since 1959) and had done quite a bit of training towards that end. Lots of wrist curls – reverse wrist curls – very heavy finger curls – and hangboard routines plus years of hanging by my fingers on rock faces around the world. I had also been doing construction ever since I was a kid as a second job. I brought years of hard work and training with my hands with me when I discovered Grip as a sport – my base strength was already fairly well developed. So basically I was 55 years old with a long background of more general grip training when I first started any specific training for the events and feats of strength involved in the “sport of Grip”.

To answer the question of what happens to grip strength as one ages I think it is important to not only be aware of the strength levels that I brought with me from my “life” but to look at the progress I was able to make (or not make) in the different lifts and feats of strength through training in what might be called my “senior citizen” years. During this time period my bodyweight probably fluctuated by maybe 10# up and down – so an increase in body size was not a factor in any increases in strength. My hand size is 7 5/8” and has not changed – my hands may have gotten a little thicker but that’s only a guess. I don’t see the point in listing all the lifts I have done but some discussion of the basics and my progress might be of value.

Grippers – Grippers have a huge skill component considering the “set” used. My early attempts used no set – I placed it in my hand and squeezed – I had no concept of a “set”. My later closes were done with a so called parallel set or similar so a real comparison of actual “strength” is difficult. Age 55 no set – I closed a COC #2 at 104# gripper but I feel I could have done more if it had been available to me. Best competition close was a 20 mm block set of 156# around age 60 to 62. Best Credit Card close was a 146# COC #3 (not in competition). Best no set close ever is 142# on a narrow spread gripper. My best competition close choked to parallel was 192.8# and a COC #4 of 195# in training. So gripper strength improved both due to skill of setting and also I feel the muscles became a good bit stronger. I probably need to mention that I dislike grippers and almost never trained them. I personally feel the choked closes show “strength” levels better than closes done with any of the various “sets” used that seem to involve a high level of “skill”.

Block Weights DL and Clean – L&R handed – The “test” for block weight is the “Blob” or half of a 100# York dumbbell – which will weigh around 50# obviously. At age 55 I lifted an “easy” Blob the first time I actually saw one (I had been training with other types of block weights for a short time previously). Later on I lifted it both left and right handed and cleaned it left and right hand. Even later I was able to lift a “Fatman Blob” right handed to full DL. I feel hand size and the way my thumb sits was (is) somewhat of a limitation for blocks but mostly I just never got strong enough to do more. I did make substantial progress with plate pinching though as hand size and spread didn’t seem as limiting. I went from 2 -25s and 2 -35s right hand in the beginning to 2 -45s, 5 – 10s, and 3-25s both R & L hand within the last couple years.

Axle DO DL – Fat bar was something that I did not bring good natural strength to in my mind. I don’t remember my early numbers but I’ll guess maybe 320#? I have done 356# several times in competition and 363# as an extra attempt once (not official). Best training lifts were around 375 to 380#. These lifts were done with a max regular bar DL of around 400# which I think limited me somewhat – making the lift take a longer time to complete. I could at one time lift and hold for several seconds 420# in a short range rack pull. Progress was difficult in this lift for me and took a lot of work.

David Horne Euro Pinch – Probably the lift I seem to have had the best natural inclination for. It is also the lift I spent the most time figuring out how to do better on. I like to think I have increased this lift with a combination of strength increases and learning to take advantage of my personal strengths and weaknesses better and better. Going from memory only I think I did 180 something my first comp with the device and pretty quickly went to 195 – 200#. From there I made the decision to “become good” on this lift. I was one of the early guys to do bodyweight on it and spent a good bit of time tweaking my technique. Even with the age increase I have steadily been able to get small increases in this one to 235.78# for the current #17 position on NAGS.

DO Bending – When bending really got started I tried it and simply sucked – I struggled to bend pretty much anything. Then Frankyboy from Germany came to visit me and showed me some technique – in a matter of an hour or so I went from doing an IM Blue nail to just failing to finish a Grade 8 Bolt. Skill and position are absolute keys. Over time I increased to IM Red Nails and a best ever of a 5/16” x 6” Cut Red Nail or FBBC bar. But I was tearing my shoulders to pieces and quickly decided the risk was too great for me.

Reverse Bending – This came fairly naturally for me. With some training and technique work I was able to go from a beginning best of ¼’ x 6” Grade 5 Bolts to doing Red Nails reverse and a best competition bend of a 6” piece of Drill Rod in competition (I don’t remember the poundage rating but it had been rated by Eric Milfield (the number 505# comes to mind but may be off). I think I had fairly good wrist strength from all the life work I had done and mostly needed better positions and technique.

Sledge Hammer Choke – relatively speaking a newer competition lift – I seemed to do well quickly on it with no training before that first contest. I did better in the second competition on it but I never trained it “directly” but did a lot of work with the “Wrist Thingy” in training that I feel had a very positive impact. I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time working with sledge hammers and axes.

The take-away, I guess, is that from the age of 55 to a current age of 66 – and with a long history of previous training – I increased every grip related lift or test number by either a small or fairly large margin. In some cases, I think much of those results were due to technique but I feel my “strength” actually got better as well in all areas.

Currently I am not training grip towards competition but am climbing quite a bit – but I do intend to do a few more contests over the next few years – it is my hope to compete at age 70 and set Masters age group records in that class.

At that point I will consider retirement.

Time will tell.

At least in this experiment of one – grip strength has not seemingly suffered the same decline as the rest of my body strength.

-Chris Rice-

Check out this other article from Chris Rice: Grip Training for Beginner Climbers