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Monday, May 16, 2011

Isometrics for Gripper Strength

This is another outstanding guest post from Mike Rinderle. Enjoy!

When you hear the term isometrics, many people flash back to the old Charles Atlas Courses in the back of our childhood comic books. But isometric training is making a big comeback for weightlifters, strongmen, and even grip athletes. So how do we apply isometrics (Isos) to your gripper training for huge gains?

An isometric exercise is one where the range of motion during the muscle contraction is very small or non-existent. It allows you to exert maximum force over a very short distance (or statically) for a period of time. This leads to stronger tendons, the ability to fire your CNS more efficiently, and increased time under maximum muscle tension, which will lead to strength gains.

There are 3 main types of Isos used to increase gripper strength: static, short concentric (positive), and short eccentric (negative). Let’s look at how we can apply all three to really jumpstart your gripper performance.

Overcrushes (static): Use a gripper that you can close and hold for at least a few seconds. If it is filed or is a narrow handle gripper that is even better, because it will strengthen you BTR (beyond the range). Close the gripper and squeeze as hard as you possibly can for as long as you can. If you can hold for more than 15 seconds, it is time to move up a gripper level, or file some more off the handle of the one you are using. I would do no more than 2 - 3 of these per hand because they will fry your forearms. Don't fall into the trap of just holding them barely hard enough to keep them closed. Squeeze with everything you've got until the gripper starts to open up, and then you let it open. This is not a negative, and doing a negative as it opens up after a hard overcrush can injure you. Just let it open slowly.

Choker closes (concentric): Get a sturdy hose clamp, tape the tops of the gripper handles and clamp your goal gripper to parallel or inside parallel (whatever width you need to close it). You will do explosive singles on this gripper. Only singles. Your goal is to explode into the close and click the handles as fast as you can. Wait until you recover and do another one just as hard and as fast as the last. Once the closes start to get a bit slow, or you can't touch the handles anymore, you stop. Period. If you can get more than 5 - 7 of these then it is time to open the clamp up slightly wider the next time you do these or use a harder gripper.

Bounce Forced Negatives (BFNs) (eccentric): Use a gripper one level higher than your goal gripper. Use your leg, or off hand to cheat close it and then fight like hell to keep it from opening up. When it gets to parallel, use your other hand (or leg) to force it back shut and fight like crazy to keep it shut again, repeat one more time when it gets to parallel. That's one set of 3. Do no more than 2 sets. These will toast you. Also, this will be a bigger gripper than you are used to and if it has sharp knurling you need to not just let it spring open after the last negative gets to parallel, or you could lose some skin. Let it open slowly.

Use only one of these as a finisher for each grip workout you do. Alternate them for best results. I believe if you add some Iso work into your arsenal of training weapons, you will be amazed at how fast the gains come. Each movement trains the muscles, tendons, and CNS in a slightly different way, but each is very effective. Many people using these see a jump of a whole gripper level in just a few weeks. So give them a try and have a great grip workout!!!

1 comment:

Zac said...

Perfect example: I have been doing these isos to finish my gripper workouts and I went from closing the COC 2 to closing the 2.5 with a 25mm set in a little more than 2 weeks. I really feel that these isos had alot to do with that. I feel ike I have more finishing power since doing the choker closes. I mean I can really fire down on my grippers now like I never was able to. Add these to your workouts, you'll see the difference for sure. I like the BFN's.. they're evil! lol