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How I Closed the Captains of Crush TM # 3 Gripper

August 20, 2007 02:52 AM

In my quest to close the Captain of Crush # 3, I soon realised that less is more. I am fortunate enough to already have a good grip and managed to close the #2 when I first picked it up, but only just! I firmly believe the key things that improved my grip over the years have been kettlebells, Rafter Chin-ups and Weightlifting.

I soon realised after using the grippers, that the difference between the # 2 and # 3 was massive. I initially tried many ways to bridge this gap, such as Fat Bar Chins, Bottom Up Press, Wrist Curls, 1 Arm Pullups, 1 Arm deadlifts, but soon established I needed a more simplistic approach where I focused on doing the basics well.

So I started doing the following routine twice a week to improve my strength.

COC Grippers

5 x 3- 5 on each hand twice a week.

On day one I would focus on using the easier gripper for 5 full sets of 5 and on day two I would focus on using the easier gripper performing overcrushes and the harder gripper performing standard reps and eccentrics.

I found the combination of the above worked very well and I made steady progress.

In addition to the above, the only direct assistance work I performed for my grip (not including Kettlebells) was Wrist Curls, which consisted of the following twice a week:

Wrist Curls Palm facing down

5 x 5

Wrist Curls Palm facing up

5 x 5

I would always perform these on non-gripping days after a kettlebell workout and this worked well.

My next step was to continue with the above program and steadily increase the volume while paying attention to any signs of overtraining and injuries. So I basically increased the amount of sets on the grippers and wrist curls by 1 set every 2 weeks. After some time I was performing 10 sets of grippers and wrist curls and it was clear I had significantly induced functional hypertrophy.

I was extremely careful when doing this and backed off if I felt I was overtraining or my elbow or wrist joints where becoming sore. I also continued to stretch to make sure I remained flexible to avoid any potential injuries.

My routine then looked like this:

COC Grippers

10 x 3- 5 on each hand twice a week

Wrist Curls Palm facing down

10 x 5 twice a week

Wrist Curls Palm facing up

10 x 5 twice a week

All of this routine was based on training at a comfortable 5-rep max and never going to failure.

At this point I had made significant strength and functional hypertrophy gains and started to make good progress with the # 3, but I needed to move to the next level.

That's when I adopted GTG ("grease the groove", see The Naked Warrior), which involves performing 3-5 singles throughout the day, 5-7 days a week. This is when I really started to capitalise on all of the hard work I had previously done. I initially started with the # 3 on one day and a gripper between the # 2 and #3 (about 240Ibs) on the other day, but soon moved on to the #3 on one day focusing on quality 3/4 closes and the #4 on the other day focusing on partial closes and eccentrics. I also found that having a higher volume day once a week on the grippers was beneficial. My normal higher volume day would consist of 5,4,3 using the 240Ib gripper for 5, #3 for 4, #4 for 3 reps.

As well as using the grippers, the two other key movements I performed were Wrist Curls and Cleans with a kettlebell, catching the kettlebell bottoms up! These movements massively assisted in improving my grip strength, however this time my focus was lowering the volume and increasing the intensity and regularity while again ensuring I displayed no signs of overtraining. I found that Wrist curls were a great movement for increasing limit strength in the forearms extensors which assisted with grip strength and Cleans catching the bell bottoms up were great from a explosive strength perspective, as exploding up with the bell and crushing it in the clean position to de-accelerate the bell really carried over to the grippers.

My routine then looked like this:

COC Grippers 5-7 days a week, 3-5 singles a day swapping between the #3 & #4 everyday. (Obviously apply this to the grippers you are using)

COC Grippers One day a week higher volume day 5,4,3 using the 240Ib gripper for 5, #3 for 4, #4 for 3 reps. (As above)

Wrist Curls: Palms up and Palms down 2x5 on each, three days a week. (never go to failure or work at your maximum).

Cleans catching the kettlebell bottoms up: 3x3, three days a week.

I found the important point about this routine was intuition, you needed to listen to your body to ensure you do not over-train and back off when required. Following this principle I made superb gains and you will to.

I have followed this routine (and modified versions of this routine) over the last 2 years and have now closed the #3, only just but I have done it! My goal for 2007 based on using the above routine is to certify with the COC #3 and then focus on the #4!

Good luck with your training and keep crushing!

Sam Dovey is a former World ranked sprint cyclist and represented the Great Britain Team on many occasions. A Regional Champion, National Champion and achieved as his highest ranking of 15th in the world. As a coach, he has 12 years experience of working with athletes and members of the public. Sam is a professionally qualified BWLA (British Weightlifting Association) Weightlifting Coach as recognised by The National Coaching Federation and Sport England. I also have extensive experience in coaching Powerlifting and Kettlebells. He can be reached through