Tag Archives: Grip Training

My Pinch Grip Training

by Scott Schmidt

Greetings, Fellow Strongmen!

Scott Schmidt shows his AMAZING Pinch Grip - with a 2 Hand Pinch Grip of 180 pounds and a 1 Hand Pinch Grip of 115 pounds.

After a recent performance at the Historic Ambridge Bar Bell Club Challenge, I was asked to submit an article describing my training techniques for the Pinch Grip Lift.

It is my pleasure to share these methods with anyone who is looking to improve their grip oriented lifting events. I will offer the recommended exercises I have used to improve my gripping strength. I have not “specialized” only in working on my grip. I do my grip exercises in between the heavy lift workouts of squats, pulls, overhead supports etc. I focus on grip movements in order to insure I do not have a weak link while doing the pulling in the Olympic Style quick lifts.

That said, among the best grip training exercises are the results you gain from doing the snatch grip dead lift. Since it is an awkward position, it forces your grip to respond. You know your limit easily when the bar doesn’t finish to the top of the thighs. You also are activating other groups of pulling muscles while doing the snatch grip dead lift. This is a bonus because to pick up modest weight for hand strength only will not enable you to progress as fast. And, since the “grip only” muscles can be used up quickly, i.e. hands, fingers, and forearms, by doing an exercise which involves other muscles, you are not as likely to over train your “grip only” muscles.

In addition to doing 3 sets of 3 reps in the snatch grip dead lift 80% of max single, which of course can produce strength gains in many areas, here are some other exercises I do to improve my results when targeting a record in a “grip only” lift:

Lift Sets Reps % of Max
2 Inch Vertical Bar Deadlift 3 3 75
2 Hand Pinch Grip 4 2 80
1 Hand Pinch Grip 6 1 90
Bent Over Row 5 5 60

In summary, these 5 exercises have been very useful to me in order to achieve grip lift record results. Another movement you can do to help you set targets for improvement is to lift something awkward with one hand at a time. For instance, I get Spring Water delivered to my front door in 5 gallon jugs. I then have to take them to my gym area. To test myself, I have used the full bottles to see how long I can hold them from the neck. Or, how long I can walk with one in each hand. Just an idea to have fun improving your grip and break up the “iron only” exercises.

Hope this article helps you get rid of any “bottle cap twist-off” issues.

My Extreme Wrist Roller

by Al Myers

Al Myers finishing a set with 200 pounds on his Extreme Wrist Roller.

I am going to start off this week of stories on grip training by describing one of MY favorite grip exercises!   Don’t worry – I am NOT one of the winning stories as technically I’m not eligible since I’m the one running the contest!  I just want to share an exercise that is the backbone of my grip training.

The Wrist Roller has been around for years.  Everyone has one and everyone has done this exercise at some point in their training history.  Fifty years ago wrist rollers were practically the only grip exercise trained, and where included as part of “packages” in weightlifting equipment sales.  York Barbell would sell equipment packages (back in the 50’s) like this – a 220# set of weights with a bar, a neck harness, a pair of Iron Boots, and a WRIST ROLLER.  It was an important training implement back then, and still is – it’s just most lifters have forgot about it.  I have used several wrist rollers through the years – from a rope on a dowel rod to now what I call My Extreme Wrist Roller.   I am not a grip specialist, but I really enjoy the training exercises for grip.  I do a little grip training every week.  I don’t specialize on any specific type of grip strength – I try to do a little of everything.  Some areas of grip strength I’m stronger at than other areas.  I have a good squeeze grip, an average round bar grip, and not the best pinch grip.  It is interesting how different lifters will have different areas of  grip strengths.

The one thing I really enjoy about the Wrist Roller is that it works not just the grip, but the forearm muscles as well.  Too many grip exercises are, what I call, “hand dependent”.  This means the “lifting capacity” of these grip exercises are more about the size of the hand or the contact area of the fingers.  Bigger hands and longer fingers – more surface adhesion.  Growing bigger hands is not exactly something you can do.  You are pretty much stuck with what you have.  That is why I like forearm training better.  You can ALWAYS increase the size of your forearm muscles or strength of your forearm muscles.  How many “hand dependent” grip exercises do you train that feel easy up to your max, and then you add 5 pounds, and it becomes impossible?  I can think of several – exercises like the Rolling Thunder and any Pinch Grip exercise.   These type of exercises go for me like this – easy, easy, easy, impossible.   And trying a little harder doesn’t help!!  It is still impossible.    The Wrist Roller is not like that.   You can push yourself as hard as you would like.  Sometimes I think I will NEVER get the loaded vertical bar to touch the bottom of the Wrist Roller (which I consider the finish of an attempt), but I keep after it till my forearms are SCREAMING WITH PAIN!  You can accomplish any lift with a Wrist Roller if you want to try hard enough!  That’s my kind of lift.

After a few sets with this Extreme Wrist Roller, your forearm will be PUMPED!

I like to do progressive loads with my Extreme Wrist Roller.  I will usually start with a couple 45’s and then add weight as I add sets.  I try to do 4-5 sets total in about 15 minutes.  As I said, I’m not a grip specialist and usually do my grip training at the end of a regular workout.   I only “train grip” with the time I have left over.   But I’ll tell ya – 15 minutes on my Extreme Wrist Roller and you will know it!  Your forearms will be “blood engorged” and cramping from the exertion.  At times I can hardly close my hands when I’m done.   I made this Extreme Wrist Roller several years ago.  I was getting tired of those silly “rope on a stick” wrist rollers because I felt my shoulders were limiting me in how much I could wrist roll, because of the way you had to hold your arms out in front of you during the exercise.  With my Extreme Wrist Roller, the wrist roller is supported by the cage and it takes all of the shoulders out of it, and places all of the stress of the exercise where you want it – on your forearms.  The roller has a two inch knurled handle.  Your grip will not fail before your forearm muscles give out.   A side benefit is that the knurled handle will shave off all of your hand calluses by the time you are finished.  After you get the VB to the top – the exercise is not over.  You then need to lower it under control.  Sometimes this seems like the hardest part.

Now I hope you won’t forget about wrist roller training.

Writing Contest Results

by Al Myers

The writing contest results  for the “best stories on grip training”  will begin to be announced tomorrow.  The judge has determined the winners, and has given me the results.  This judge even went a little farther than I  expected, and RANKED the winning 7 stories.  Only one small change – this judge convinced me to give 7 winners instead of 6 so I will have a story for each day of the week next week.  That sounded like a good idea, and what’s another winner, so I took the advice and now there will be 7 winners.  I want to thank everyone who sent in stories for this competition, and apologize to those who didn’t get selected as winners.  If it was up to me EVERYONE would win (that is why I put this difficult task of selection onto someone else) but that’s just not possible.  All of the submitted stories were great in their own way.  I may do a contest like this again in the future so I hope if you were not selected this time you will try again in a later competition.  I was overwhelmed by the number of entrants into this competition, and I know everyone will really enjoy the stories that will appear over the next 7 days in the USAWA Daily News.  Lots of great information on grip training!  As I said earlier, the winners will be announced one each day starting tomorrow.   Tomorrows story will be the 7th place story, and each day a higher ranked story will be ran, ending with the number 1 story next Sunday.  But the good news is – the ranking really doesn’t matter because EVERYONE who’s story is ran will receive the same prize –  a custom made 3.5″ dumbbell handle by me for the official lift the Dumbell Walk!

Another Daily News Story Competition

by Al Myers

After the story I did on the Dumbbell Walk the other day I got to thinking how “unavailable” this special dumbbell handle is.  It is a shame that a great all-round lift like the Dumbbell Walk is not performed more often just due to the fact that most lifters don’t have the implement.  We are fortunate in the Dino Gym to have the equipment to do ALL the all-round lifts in the USAWA Rulebook, and sometimes I take that for granted.

So it’s time for another writing competition!!! I received such a good response from the last one (on training tips or the use of a special training implement) that I’m going to do another one.  This time the GRAND PRIZE will be a Dumbbell Walk Handle.  But to make this competition even more interesting, I’m going to expand it.  I am going to award SIX WINNERS, each receiving a Dumbbell Walk Handle.  This way the odds are much better you will be a winner (because we all know how difficult it is to compete in writing contests with such notable writers as John McKean and Thom Van Vleck.  That’s like taking on Steve Schmidt in a Teeth Lifting Competition!).

Since this unique gripping tool is at stake, this writing contest will be over a training program or exercise that you use to train your grip.  Nearly everyone does some type of grip training in their training programs, so I think nearly everyone will have something that applies.  I want this to be about a grip training idea or technique that really has helped your grip strength.   The more original the better.

I plan to run these stories over a course of one week in the USAWA Daily News.  The first day I plan to write a story about one of my secret grip exercises that has really helped my hand strength.   But not to worry, I am not eligible.  You will know if you are one of the winners when you see your story printed.  That will build the suspense!!  I have secured a judge for these stories that is impartial.  This person is not very familiar with any of you, so “favoritism” will not be a factor.

It is VERY IMPORTANT to follow the rules of the competition for this one, because if you don’t your story may be rejected by the judge. Please send your story to me at amyers@usawa.com .  I will send you an email response indicating that I received your story submission.

Now I expect after this the Dumbbell Walk will  become a HOTLY contested USAWA lift next year.  Hopefully, several new USAWA records will fall next year in the Dumbbell Walk!!


1.  Stories are to be between 500-1000 words.

2.  A picture demonstrating the exercise must be included.

3.  The DEADLINE for submission is March 16th, by midnight.

4.  Stories must be grip training related and original.

The Rolling Thunder

by Al Myers

USAWA Grip Star, Matt Graham, lifting 275 pounds on the Rolling Thunder in training this past weekend. (photo by Bob Burtzloff)

One of the popular “grip toys” introduced by Randy Strossen and IronMind Enterprises is the Rolling Thunder.  This grip device is different from anything else.  I have never read about any type of  gripping device similar to this used by Old-Time Strongmen.  It is indeed a novel, unique idea!!  Thanks to Randy and his promotion of it – the Rolling Thunder is now well-known within the “grip circle” and lifters in general.  IronMind sells it for a modest $59.95 plus shipping, as advertised on the IronMind Website.  For a price like that, buy the original and don’t waste your time trying to make your own or buying a knock-off.  Afterall, don’t you want a original Rolling Thunder!

The Rolling Thunder consists of a rotating  sleeved handle  with 2.375″ diameter PVC, over a fixed handle shaft.  It attaches to a loaded vertical bar.  It is a one-hand lift that tests the grip like none other!  When you lift using the Rolling Thunder, the handle feels like it wants to “roll” out of your hand allowing the weight to crash to the floor making a sound like thunder, and thus the name Rolling Thunder .   It has been on the market since 1993.  Randy initially promoted it by asking this simple question, “Will anyone EVER lift 300 pounds on the Rolling Thunder?”. It took several years, but finally the grip phenom/professional Strongman from England Mark Felix, broke this magic barrier.  Felix currently holds the World Record at 301 pounds, set January 18th, 2008.  The Rolling Thunder has gained such popularity that contests are ran that focus on it only. The Gillingham brothers have helped popularize it by having it as part of their GNC Grip Gauntlet, which they run in their booth at the Arnold every year.

The Rolling Thunder is not a USAWA event, but is often pulled out after meets for impromptu competitions.  Last spring after the USAWA Dino Gym Grip Contest this was the case.  Andy Durniat amazed everyone when he broke the Dino Gym record with a lift of 230 pounds!  He did this AFTER the grip competition!!!

I consider anyone who can lift over 200 pounds on the Rolling Thunder as National Class, and those over 250 pounds World Class.  The Rolling Thunder can be very humbling – often it seems “easy” moving up in weight, only to reach a point when you add another 5 pounds it becomes impossible!!  If you don’t have a Rolling Thunder, go to IronMind Enterprises and order yours today.  It will be an investment that you won’t ever regret.

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