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Grip Training With No Special Equipment Required – Key Pinch Rim Lifts

I am always on the lookout for Grip Training lifts and challenges that can be performed without having to buy specialized Grip Training equipment, only what you will already find in a commercial gym. I was introduced to a great example of a Grip Strength Challenge that requires no special equipment by my Canadian friend, Eric Roussein. It is called a Key Pinch Rim Lift.

This called a Key Pinch Rim Lift, because you grip the plate by the rim using a Key Pinch Grip. The Key pinch is where you force your thumb against the side of your bent index finger, as if you were gripping a key.

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Key Pinch Position

Why Key Pinch is Important to Your Training

There are many reasons why this form of training can be of importance to you. Let’s look at some of them.

  • Strength Training: The thumb serves to reinfornce many grips you take in lifting. Especially in lifts such as the Deadlift and other pulling movements (Pull-ups, Barbell Rows), the thumb assists the fingers in static grips to enable bigger weights to be lifted and assists in holding endurance.
  • Firearms / Shooting: The thumb serves to enhance your grip on the handle of the firearm, assisting you with a steady hold and solid aim
  • Grappling / MMA: The thumb is often a weak link in hand-to-hand combat, allowing opponents to break free from your grip. An powerful thumb keeps them in your grasp and in your control.
  • Injury Prevention / Recovery: A stronger thumb is generally more resilient against injury, and if you do jam a thumb or injure it in another way, a stronger thumb should bounce back quicker and be able to still exert more force while injured than a weaker one.
  • Gripper Training: When working with Grippers, the thumb and especially muscle of the thumb pad acts as a foundation for the back handle of the gripper, preventing sliding, keeping it in place, and shortening the pull distance the fingers must cover with the front handle

These are just a few examples of how thumb strength and thumb pad size can assist you in your athletic endeavors. Now, let’s look at how to perform Key Pinch Rim Lifts.

How to Perform a Key Pinch Rim Lift

You apply the Key Pinch to either the outside rim or the inside rim, which is also often call the hub. When you do this, you are ready to perform the Inside or Outside Key Pinch Rim Lift

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Inside Key Pinch Rim Lift                          Outside Key Pinch Rim Lift

Once you have your Grip set-up you are ready to give these lifts a go. Naturally, if you are new to Grip Training, don’t worry about trying to tackle a 100-lb plate right away. Instead, start with a 25-lb plate, then 35, then 45, etc. You just might be surprised how challenging the Inside Rim Lift is even with a 35-lb or 45-lb plate, because of the very narrow grip position.

Outside Key Pinch Rim Lift

This was the original version of the lift that Eric Roussein introduced, done by gripping the outside rim of the plate.

Eventually, JT and I decided to try the lift from the center rim, when he got very easily, but I did not get until a session or two later

Inside Rim Lift

It took me several tries with varied rest periods, but I finally got it. The narrow position like this felt very awkward and tough to get a good grip on the plates.

Once I got this, I felt like I could have driven my thumbs through a Zombie’s eye sockets and squeezed its eyeballs so tightly they would have turned to diamonds!


As you can see, these are types of grip training that do not require heavy investments in equipment. Most gyms already have weight plates that you can use to perform Rim Lifts on.

Any questions on how to perform the Rim Lift or how to train/load it, be sure to leave a comment below.

All the best in your training.

Jedd

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