Saturday, 28 June 2014

Product Review : Captains of Crush Grippers

I can’t remember when I first bought myself a pair of grippers, probably 4 years ago I bought a cheap ‘fitness’ pair off trademe (NZ’s version of ebay). These were cheap, weak and totally useless for my training. I remember doing 2-3 sets of 50 each hand while I watch TV. I eventually gave one away, and threw the other in a corner not bothering with them again.

About a year later I came across the CoC (Captains of Crush) grippers from Ironmind and decided to buy some gear off their website. Among other things I bought myself the trainer (100 lb close) and the number 1 (140 lb close). These grippers are not made for ‘toning’ they are for strength training, and should be treated like weight training for the hands. The grippers are very simple but well made, they feel quite comfortable to use and I can’t fault the design or workmanship.

Closing the number 2
Using some very basic programming they suggested I was quickly able to close the number 1 for sets of 5. I would start with 1-2 sets of five with my old cheap gripper as a warm up, then 2-3 sets of 5 with the trainer, followed by sets with the number one, finishing either with sets of five on the trainer or some lockouts closing the number one (5 -15 seconds). The sets with the number one started with 2-3 reps and sets, eventually building up to 5x5.

Following this I bought the number two gripper (195 lb close). Went I first got this gripper I could only close it slightly past half way. To build up to closing it I would warm up with sets of 5 for the trainer then 1-2 sets of five with the number 1 followed by 3-5 singles attempting to close the number two. I would then finish with sets of 5 with the number 1. Currently I can do 2-3 singles with each hand closing the number 2, but only on a good day, if I’m tired, beat down or worn out I can’t quite make the close.

Almost got the close on the number 2

Ideally I would program these grippers twice a week, but my main (grip) focus right now is on the one arm towel hang, climbing my campus board and one arm finger tip push ups. So currently I throw in the grippers whenever I have time and am feeling good.

To sum up these are excellent pieces of training equipment which you should treat as weight training for your hands. They are very well made and a great addition to your training. However they should not make up the entirety of your grip training. They do not directly transfer to isometric grip strength (unless you’re performing lockouts), so throw in some hangs and fat bar lifting for a more rounded grip strength. And don’t forget to train the extensors.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Basic hangboard and campus board training

THIS IS NOT WRITTEN FOR CLIMBERS. I AM NOT TRAINING FOR CLIMBING. Sorry for the caps but I needed to get that out of the way early. I’m not a climber and know very little about both climbing and training for climbing. That said, I believe what I present here is a reasonable progression of training which will carry over positively to climbing.

I first got into training grip strength after doing a bit of indoor climbing with friends. After an hour or so of climbing I found my limiter was grip endurance. I’m not saying that I would be a better climber with stronger grip, just that I could climb for longer. I’m also aware that climbing is very technical, and that you should be using mainly your legs. That said I don’t climb frequently so when I’m there, I just want to have some fun.

So I started my grip training with many of the things seen in my articles on basic grip training and training the extensors. I also build my climbing wall/ massive hang board. As part of that project I added a mini campus board to one side (Note: real campus boards are set at an angle with set spacing much larger than mine). I had grand plans for my campus board (the side with nothing on it currently) but when I first tried it I could only just do a 5 second hang, so the grand plans were put on hold while I build up my finger strength. Before you start hangboard or campus board training I suggest you should have at least a 1 minute bar hang, preferably several sets.

So I started my training with sets of 5 second hangs. I would rest as needed, sometimes hanging between sets of other exercises, or between housework. I used two hands and all four fingers and did not lock my fingers in with my thumb. When locked in with the thumb (thumb over the index finger) the grip is called a crimp, a half crimp (which I use) does not use the thumb. This grip is harder than the full crimp, and the half crimp will be used later for campusing (moving up and down on the board) I built up to 5x5 second holds, then moved to 10 second holds building up to 5 sets. I then built up to 15 and 20 second hangs, from here I believe that longer and longer hangs are un-necessary to train. One important tip: Buy some chalk; it makes it feel like your finger prints are glued to the wood.

Chalked fingers, warm up hang, half crimp hang

My next step was to start climbing the board. At first I could only move my hand up one rung then match it with my other hand. I would build up to climbing one rung 3-5 times, resting as required.

Climbing the board, hands matching

From there I would warm up with one rung climbs, then do 1-3 two rung climbs, I would climb one, then climb to the next. Once I could make 3 two rung climbs I move on to climbing the whole board in this fashion (3 rungs). This is where I am up to currently with my training and I have started some 3 finger hangs (two hands), I’m planning to train to hang from only two fingers per hand, and hang from only one hand, maybe one hand two fingers eventually.

My next aim for campus boarding is to climb the rungs without matching hands, i.e. left hand up, and then right hand goes to the next rung up, not meeting at the same rung. I would also like to train climbing down the board after climbing up.

Climbing without matching hands

Other options for advance campus boarding are to move both hands at the same time, either both from the same rung, to the next rung up, or to offset the hands and jump both up to the next rungs. This is a long way off for me and I really don’t suggest it to anyone whose fingers aren’t incredibly strong. 

I believe these are called bumps
Jumping rungs
Hands offset, jumping rungs
So that’s how I’ve built up to climbing my campus board, and how I plan to continue from here. If any climbers are reading this please comment and let me know what you think. Anything I’ve been doing well, or poorly?