Hand Gripper Beginner Program

How to Train with Heavy Grips Hand Grippers – Beginners Program.

By Clay Edgin – Certified Heavy Grips Gripper King

In this article you’re going to learn some tips, tricks, and techniques that will help you get the most out of your Heavy Grips Hand Grippers and develop a strong crushing grip. You will also get a sample training program based off of my own program which has produced fast results.

Out of all my workout toys, I like my heavy grippers the most because I can take them anywhere and I love to watch the expression on people’s faces when they try to close them. These are not your ordinary grippers that you can easily squeeze all day!


Why Train With Grippers?

If you’re an athlete, you need strong hands. Nearly every sport in the world involves moving something with your hands or transferring your body’s power through the hands. Developing a stronger grip and forearms will help you in any athletic endeavor you aspire to do. Football, wrestling, baseball, weightlifting, martial arts, and yes, even golf all rely on a high degree of forearm strength and working with grippers is a key element of that.

Let’s get down to business.


The Set

“Setting” the gripper basically means that you are using your other hand to help position the gripper in your hand. You are also closing the gripper far enough so that you can wrap your pinky finger around the handle and put it in a good position to close the gripper. It may take you a few days or even a few weeks to completely grasp the proper “feel” of setting the gripper, but once you do you will reap the benefits immediately. You will soon find that “sweet spot” in your palm for the handle to rest. This allows you to get the best possible leverage.

When I set a gripper in my right hand, I use my left thumb to press one gripper handle firmly into my right palm, while at the same time using my left index finger to pull the other handle closer so my pinky can wrap around it better. I have relatively short fingers and find it difficult to close the hand grippers without setting them first. The pictures below show how to set the hand gripper.

Wide Set

This gripper is NOT set because the pinky finger is not wrapped around the bottom of the gripper handle.
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Setting The Gripper
Setting the gripper by using the free hand to help position the gripper in place.
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Set Gripper
This is a properly set gripper, notice how the pinky finger is wrapped around the bottom of the handle.
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Under no circumstances should you set the gripper any further than parallel. In fact, if you were interested in certifying on the HG300 or HG350 you would only be allowed to set the gripper enough to get your pinky finger hand around it. You don’t want to use your other hand to help you squeeze it so far that the handles are nearly parallel with each other. It makes the rest of “the close” easier because you can get added leverage. Why not do it then if it’s easier? Because it doesn’t develop stronger hands. And the whole purpose of using Heavy Grips Hand Grippers is to develop stronger hands.

If you want to develop truly strong hands, work on using a very shallow set and even practicing ‘no-set’ closes. ‘No-set’ means you don’t use the other hand to set the gripper at all and you squeeze the gripper completely closed using one hand only. These types of squeezes are much tougher and will make your hands very strong. But if you have small hands and short fingers this can be difficult. However, don’t use hand size as an excuse for you not to try using ‘no-set’ closes in your training. If you can no-set close the HG100, then you have the hand size to no-set close the HG150, 200, 250, 300, and 350. All feats of grip strength rely on hand strength, not hand size. One of the unique things about Heavy Grips is that all the grippers have a standard handle spread of 2.5 inches. This allows more people to be able to close the gripper with a shallow set or no set at all.

When I meet with someone new who is interested in building their grip strength and they ask my advice on how to use the hand grippers, 9 times out of 10 the first thing I suggest they correct is their pinky placement on the handle. As awkward as it sounds, having your pinky finger halfway off the bottom of the handle puts your hand in a better leverage position. But you still need your pinky involved in the crush. So try to set the gripper so that your fingers are as far down the handle as possible without your pinky slipping off. This will place you in the strongest position to squeeze the hand gripper.


The Squeeze

After the gripper is set, the other hand is taken away and you begin to crush the handles together. Visualize pulling your fingers back while simultaneously pushing your thumb forward. This will get your entire hand involved in closing the gripper. And other than that, the best advice I can give you is to squeeze hard! The closer the handles get to touching, the more your pinky and ring fingers come into play.

Anyone familiar with the use of dynamic resistance in weight lifting, such as using large rubber bands or chains to add additional tension on a barbell, will recognize that gripper springs are also a form of dynamic resistance. The idea behind using bands and chains is that it teaches you to lift the weight explosively to blast through sticking points that you would normally encounter. As such, a gripper should be closed as fast as possible. If you don’t explosively squeeze the handles together, you will not get nearly as close to closing them than if you had crushed them quickly and will find yourself at the same frustrating sticking point.


Inverted Closes

Squeezing the gripper in a standard position with the spring pointing up, as shown above, really works those last two fingers. But if you want strong hands you should make it a point to include some ‘inverted closes’ to focus on strengthening your index and middle fingers. Inverted just means that the spring is pointing towards the ground. Setting a gripper in the inverted position is a little more tricky than a standard position, but just take your time with it. No-set inverted gripper squeezes are also great training exercise.

Inverted Set

Setting the inverted gripper.
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Inverted Close

Closing the inverted gripper.
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Training

The hands have a remarkable ability to recover quickly from the workout you give them. I would recommend working with hand grippers 2 times a week for a beginner and then start to increase the frequency and volume of your workouts over the course of several weeks. Below is a sample training program for people who are trying to close the Heavy Grip 150, which we will call the goal gripper. You can adjust this program according to what your goal gripper is.


Warm-up

Do 6-8 repetitions on a very easy gripper for each hand. This is just to loosen the joints and get the blood flowing into your hands. Those cheap plastic handle department store grippers work fine for this.

Do 6-8 repetitions with a very easy gripper for each hand, but this time do inverted closes.

HG100 Closes – 3 reps with each hand.

HG100 Inverted Closes – 3 reps with each hand.


Workout

HG150 (goal gripper) Attempt to close the gripper. Set the gripper in your hand as outlined above and perform a single rep trying to close the gripper. Even if you can’t fully close the handles, just squeeze as hard as you can. Repeat for 5 attempts with each hand and rest at least 90 seconds between each attempt. Switch hands after each attempt (i.e. do 1 rep with your right hand, then 1 rep with your left hand, etc. for a total of 5 reps with each hand).

HG150 Inverted Close Attempts. Just like above, but use the inverted set up.

Negatives with HG200 – 3 negatives with each hand. Hold each rep for 5 seconds. Do 1 negative rep per hand and switch back and forth for a total of 3 negative reps with each hand.

*Negatives are done by cheating the gripper closed with 2 hands and then slowly opening the gripper using only 1 hand.


Cool Down

Contrast baths – have one bucket filled with hot water and another filled with cold water. If you have a double sink this works as well. Put your hands into one bucket, slowly open and close your fingers for 60 seconds. Then put them into the other bucket and do the same. Repeat at least 3 times with each bucket. Hot and cold contrast baths help to speed up recovery. The hot water will draw blood to the surface of the skin and the cold water will pull blood back to the center. Contrasting them back and forth improves circulation and reduces soreness.


Notes and Progression

If you are feeling “off” and not up to 100% strength, you can reduce the number of squeezes during the warm-up so the bulk of your energy and strength go into the goal gripper squeezes. Make sure to take no less than 1 minute in between gripper squeezes (and even as much as 2 minutes) so your hands can recover. Even if you don’t feel tired, the extra rest time between sets will increase your grip strength significantly. Keep with this program 2 times a week for 3 weeks, then add in another workout so you are using the grippers 3 times a week. Over the next couple weeks add in another day per week. From there, use your best judgment as to how often you should train. If you are an advanced grip enthusiast, you may choose to work your grip every day for a week and then take a week off. I’ve done this many times after slowly working back up in volume and it has helped a lot. As you increase the number of workouts you do per week, also increase the number (volume) of gripper squeezes.

Closing your goal gripper can be a very rewarding experience and will take your hand strength to new levels. As you get more experienced, don’t be afraid to experiment with new training ideas. And if you hit a plateau with your gripper training and get stuck at that last 1/8″, just take a full week off. The extra rest time will all your joints, tendons, and ligaments to fully recover and when you return to training again you should be able to close that sucker!



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About The Author

leehayward

Lee Hayward is a former competitive bodybuilder and muscle building coach who has been online coaching people since 1997. His work has been featured in several international magazines such as: FLEX, Muscle Insider, Muscle Mag International, Testosterone, Ironmag, and Forbes. Lee's main focus right now is with helping men over 40 - who don't want to be fat anymore - lose the gut, build muscle, and get back in shape. If you're ready to "Start Again" for the last time and finally build a lean healthy body that you can be proud of, just e-mail Lee to discuss a realistic action plan that's right for you... lee@leehayward.com

3 Comments

  • Great article, thanks for the tips. I have a similar pair of grippers that have been neglected for too long.

  • Mike

    Reply Reply

    Hand strength is very often too neglected. As a hockey goalie, I couldn’t emphasize the need for great hand strength for both grip of the stick (not easy to hold on to that through the leather at times) and catching the puck, especially when you are breaking in a new glove — those things can be tough to break in.

    Great article!

  • G.T.

    Reply Reply

    12.18.16
    Hi! Been using grippers for awhile – still unable to close 150. Is it possible for a gripper to be under rated from manufacturer. Such as resistance being greater than the 150 rating. Reply appreciated!

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