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Tahoe Bouldering
Grip Training

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Special Grip Training

The following is a list of exercises I use with hints, my experiences, and notations.  I don't claim to have innovated any special grip training techniques.  I just put information I have gathered from various sources together in my own words.  You can get grip tools and information from Iron Mind Enterprises.

1.     Bag Catches

a.     These build explosive grabbing power.

                                                                                                 i.       You can also build one using small screws to fill a bank bag and wrapped with duct tape.  You can also use shot to fill it.

                                                                                              ii.      I use a small rubber 10-pound medicine ball for explosive catches.  This works great.

2.  Captains of Crush

a.     One of my favorites.  These are true tests of strength.  The Captain of Crush grippers are super spring hang grippers made by Iron Mind.  They are like the ones you can get in the sporting goods store on steroids.  The toughest ones take over three hundred pounds to close.  There are 4 numbered levels and a trainer.  The trainer is still about ten times harder than the cheapo grippers you can get at Walmart.  They go up from there.  About 50 people have so far been certified closing the # 3 gripper and only one person has done the # 4.

b.     I find that it is much easier to close the grippers if I position the handles just right in my hand before crushing.  If you are strong enough it is possible to milk the gripper into better position with one hand; luckily the start is the easiest part.  Practice on the easier grippers.  Of course the most difficult portion of any close is the last little bit so regardless of how you get there maximum force is required at closure.  For certification it is legal to position the gripper with your other hand as long as you dont touch your hand or wrist while crushing.

                                                                                                 i.      I usually warm up with a few sets of single reps with the Trainer and # 1 then when I feel ready I go for singles with the # 2.  If I feel strong, after I feel like I have reached full power with the #2 I go for the # 3.

                                                                                              ii.      Some people do negatives but I have not really worked these.

                                                                                            iii.      I think trying to close them as fast as possible is helpful.  It is also helpful to over crush the easier grippers.

3.     Eagle Loops

a.     I use these for finger team and single finger, one each hand, pull-ups.  Also one-arm/hand only using different finger teams and constantly trying to build up to single finger hangs.  I have hung from my single ring finger; both right and left handed.    

b.     There are many variations of exercises I perform with these.  I have developed the ability to do a couple two-pinkie pull-up.

c.     I also do speed pull-ups with varied grips.

                                                                                                 i.      A speed pull-up workout is 8 to 10 sets of three reps with as much velocity as possible.  I usually utilize Jump Stretch bands to increase the resistance.    

4.   Rock Rings

a.     I think there is really to much to list right now but these are some of my favorite exercises:

                                                                                                 i.      Swinging frenchies

                                                                                              ii.      Swinging levers

                                                                                            iii.      Front levers

                                                                                            iv.      One arm hangs from slope

                                                                                               v.      One arm pull-ups

1.     Jump into these if necessary.

2.     One arm lock-offs in different positions

3.     Finish by grabbing on with opposite hand, letting go, or controlled lower

                                                                                            vi.      Three finger sloper pulls

1.     One hand hangs

2.     Speed Pull-ups

5.     Hang Board

a.     These can be purchased at climbing stores.  There are many makes and models from a bunch of great companies.

6.     Titans Telegraph

7.     Farmers Walk

8.     Plate Pinches

a.     This is just placing two Olympic weight plates together smooth side out and picking them up with one hand.  This is deceptively difficult.  The best I have done is two thirty-five pound plates with both my right and left hand.  My goal is two forty-five pound plates.  To add weight without skipping to the next larger plates, slide a bar though the center and add small plates to each side of the bar as necessary.  Also pick up the next level plate pair, for me two forty fives, with both hands then rotate the plate by letting go with one hand momentarily, quickly grab it lower, turn plate and repeat.  This allows you to momentarily hold the plate one handed and also builds an explosive grip (similar to bag catching and campus board training).

9.     Plate Raises

a.     Hold a weight plate in your hand and curl it.  Be careful, these can be hard on the wrists.

10.   Dog Tug of War

a.     I play this game with my pit bull dog.  Believe me he can pull hard, he shakes, and he is determined to hang on.   Depending on how you play the game this can be anything from somewhat mild exercise to rigorous core (back, abs and oblique), leg, shoulder and upper and lower arm exercise. 

b.     Some implements that can be used include a piece of rope, denim, Kong dog toy, etc. The rubber side of the Kong is awesome for open hand and thumb power.  It is good to eliminate fingers and the thumb and work individual fingers and the palm.  This can give a great pump. 

c.     Done properly I believe this can also a great exercise for general physical preparedness.  GPP helps with recovery after intense workouts.

11.   Wheelbarrow Pushing

12.   Rope Climbing

a.     I dont do these because I dont own a thick climbing rope.  I have never really worked these but I suspect it provides an excellent workout for hand strength and pulling power.

13.   Finger Tip Pushups

a.     I hurt my right thumb doing these so I have eliminated them.  In addition I feel the stress they place on the fingers can compress the joints.  Doing these while eliminating the thumb and fingers extended out are difficult and maybe beneficial.  I will try to mix these in some time.

14.   Heavy Finger Rolls

a.     Definitely a hand closing power builder.  I was able to do 275 for a few limited range reps. I only open hand partially but close it as tight as possible.  I was exposed to this exercise through Flash Training by Eric J. Horst

15.  Bouldering

a.     For me this is both the object and training method.  This is the ultimate exercise for climbing specific power building.  Of course the quality of training depends on the type and variety of the boulders climbed.

16.   Rock Holds

17.   Campus Board

a.     This one should probably be near the top of the list of best exercises to build climbing specific finger power.

18.   GripMaster

a.      I believe it can serve as a warm-up and for variety as a moderate stress exercise.

19.   Olympic Bar End Grab

20.   Paper Ripping: Phone book ripping works the hands and wrists hard.  I was surprised I could tear a phone book.  The trick is to grab the spine side with a deep pinch grip.  Break and rip the spine then rip and tear through the whole thing.  Also you can practice ripping junk mail.  Grab a pile, rip, stack again, repeat until you cant rip anymore.

21.  Nail Bending

22.  Potato Crushing

a.     I havent tried this yet but I think it is really hard.

23.   Finger Walks

24.   Rubber Band Finger Extensions

25.  Newspaper Crinkle I really like this exercise.  Just do what the name implies.  I usually rip sheets of newspaper in half then do each page individually.  This really pumps up my thumb and makes my hands feel strong.

Don't let go