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Evolution of the Captains of Crush Certification and My Quest to Re-Certify

Captains of Crush Certification

The Captains of Crush Certification is the most widely known Gripper Certification in the world. For men, it involves closing a brand new IronMind #3, #3.5, or #4 Gripper. For the women, it involves the #2 and the recently added #2.5, as well the #3, once Red Sonya hits that mark.

And while this much is fairly common knowledge for those who practice Grip Strength, what many people don’t realize about the Captains of Crush Gripper Certification is that it has changed over the years.

Most who have come into Grip the last couple of years have no idea that some of the people on the list of certified #3 closers actually did it slightly differently from how the guy these days must do it, and they are shocked when they learn about it when watching my On-line DVD, CRUSH: Total Gripper Domination.

Please don’t take this post the wrong way. I am in no way saying the guys who certified on the #3 under the old rules are pussies or cheaters or any less than the athletes who are doing it today.

In fact, I am one of the guys who certified under the old rules. I certainly believe that closing a #3 gripper with a deeper set is a fine feat of grip strength, after all, the hardest part of the gripper sweep is the finish.

What I am saying, however, is that I think it is definitely a tougher feat for those who have certified under the new rules.

As you will see in the video below, I can not close a #3 with a credit card set. But I want to very badly.

Before we get into that, for those who are not familiar with these changes over the years, I have put together a short timeline of how the cert has evolved since I got into Grip. Take note, I may be slightly off on actual dates of when things changed, but they are close enough to give the story a solid outline.

Captains of Crush Evolution Timeline

2002 – I found out about the IronMind Captains of Crush grippers and the certification from Rick Walker. The passion with which Rick spoke about Grip training was extremely infectious and I soon wanted to get certified as well. This is what got me involved in Grip Training.

2003 – I certified on the #3 Gripper at Fitness Headquarters in Johnson City, NY. My witness was Dave Thomas. At this time, you could use the off-hand to position and pre-close the gripper, provided the last inch was clearly visible by the judge. This is how I certified, along with an explosion of new CoC’s that year.

2005 – I believe it was sometime during this year that the rules governing the set were modified. You could still position and pre-close the gripper with assistance from the off-hand, but prior to going for the close, you had to be able to insert a credit card clearly between the handles to show proper set-width. Soon, IronMind began making their own credit cards to be used. These are pretty cool Grip collection items.

2006 – One of the first men to certify under the credit card rules, Tex Henderson, certified at the Sorinex Facility in Irmo, SC following the gripper event at the Global Grip Challenge. I served as the witness, and slid the card through for him.

After this, my memory gets really shady without doing some research. I know there was quite a drop-off in the number of newly certified CoC’s for a while. I also remember that eventually a rule was established that the certifying athlete had to swipe the card between the handles himself.

2007 – Richard Sorin, the first man to ever certify on the #3 gripper, re-certifies under the new credit-card rules.

2010 – Paul Knight, owner of one of the strongest crushing grips in the world re-certifies on the #3 gripper. Paul has since certified on the #3.5, closed many #4 grippers with a deeper set, and is a Mash Monster Level 7. He also inspired me to write the Push and Crush Workout, a Gripper Training System I have followed off-and-on since 2010 and steadily for a year.

Since 2010, there have been plenty of men who have certified on the #3 and #3.5 under the new rules, but I do not know of any other athletes who have re-certified, although there certainly could be some.

Since the rule change in the mid-2000’s re-certifying on the #3 has not been one of my main goals. I keep my sites set pretty firmly on deeper sets because that is what is used in contests. From 2006 to 2010, I was constantly training for Grip Contests and almost always a parallel set or 20-mm set was used, so I figured it would be counter-productive to work both the credit-card set and the deeper sets…but I was wrong.

My Students Have Inspired Me

In working with some of my clients in my on-line coaching system, I have found that without a doubt, it is possible to improve your crushing ability, both with credit-card sets and deeper 20-mm or 30-mm block sets.

Whereas I figured your hands would be too tired to get quality work on narrow block sets after working with the credit cards, as it turns out, if you are properly conditioned, and if you monitor your volume appropriately, you can progress at both ends of the setting spectrum, while training both sets in the same workout or in separate workouts.

Seeing the people I was working with improve at both ends of the setting spectrum on grippers inspired me! After watching person after person making increases, I decided that after the 2013 NAGS Championship Grip Contest, I would begin working the wide-set gripper training harder with the end-goal of re-certifying this year.

I see many benefits of this training goal:

1. Training the wider sets will strengthen the hands more, and contribute to my contest closes with deeper sets

2. Training the wider sets will most likely strengthen my thick bar lifting, because the hands will perform more work in the same general range as thick bar lifting

3. Training the wider sets actually seems easier on the muscles of my hands and forearms. Whereas sometimes my hands and forearms feel tender after deeper set gripper work, they do not feel this way with credit card work.

4. I will no longer have to tell everyone who asks me, “I certified under the old rules.” There has been more than one occasion where people did not know about the rule changes and when they have learned that I certified with a deep set, they look at me as if I have a third eye growing out of my head. Those couple/three times have been enough, believe me.

And so, I plan on posting more routinely about my gripper training, specifically on my credit card gripper training. The plan is to gradually work up through the many #3 grippers that I own. Each one is a little bit different in strength as per my gripper rating system, so it will be a good way to progress slowly.

For instance, I know my easiest #3 is rated at 138#, while my hardest #3 is rated at 154#. I figure once I am able to close the #154, I should be able to close a brand new #3 gripper, right out of the package, which has been another part of the rules for quite some time now, although I do not know exactly when it was instituted – in 2007 perhaps?

My Starting Point with the #3 Gripper

Here is a video of some credit card #3 attempts from this week. This is a 139-lb rated number 3. As you will see, I am VERY close to closing this one, as I am routinely getting it down to the 1/8″ mark or deeper, although I have not sealed the deal as of yet.

Incidentally, if you are interested in having your Grippers rated, I highly suggest it Getting them all done on the same rating device by the same person is the absolute best way to get it done, because it gives you an accurate comparison of all of your grippers. This is also a great way to know as accurately as possible, where all your grippers lie, which is particularly useful if you have several grippers that all fall in the same general range, and you can’t quite tell which are harder than the others.

To find out more about my Gripper Rating process, click here: Get Your Grippers Rated.

Thanks for all the support from everyone on my journey to re-certification. If you too are training for Captain of Crush status, I wish you the best as well.


Want All the Info You Need to Attain Your Gripper Certification?
Check out CRUSH: Total Gripper Domination

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