IronMind Resource Pages

About Grip Training, Hand Grippers, and Hand Strength

Over the years, IronMind has published a rich lode of information covering all aspects of grip strength training, including using hand grippers; introducing grip masters of note; and making known our world-renowned Captains of Crush Hand Grippers, with their colorful history and hand strength-producing benefits. We introduced the IMTUG: IronMind's Two-Finger Utility Grippers, for targeting individual finger strength and Zenith: The digital fitness gripper, designed for strong and healthy hands in the 21st century. We’ve compiled a list of all those resources for your easy reference, so you can find out what you don’t know—and then read about it so you do!

Order any of our excellent hand strength and grip training resources, including our Captains of Crush Grippers and IMTUG Two-Finger Grippers, in our on-line store.

Captains of Crush Grippers: What They Are and How to Close Them (No. 1354) by Randall J. Strossen, Ph.D., J.B. Kinney, and Nathan Holle
The history and evolution of the Captains of Crush Hand Grippers and the general strategies most useful for training on them, including closing a No. 3 or No. 4 Captains of Crush Hand Gripper.
Mastery of Hand Strength (No. 1273) by John Brookfield
The book beloved by grip trainees covers the basics of hand strength from your elbows to your fingertips and includes many of John Brookfield’s creative hand strength exercises.
Dexterity Ball Training for Hands Course (No. 1263-DXC) by John Brookfield
These innovative exercises will help you improve your hand health, increase your flexibility and muscle control, develop hand strength and dexterity, and aid in hand rehabilitation and hand therapy.
Captains of Crush Song CD (No. 1403) by Laing,
Rock with your Captains of Crush Hand Grippers and extend a helping hand to those in need: profits from the sale of the song to go charity. Rev up your psyche before you train—it’s a blast!
Technique, training and feats of hand strength
The history and how-to of tearing cards are presented for all those who want to build their hand and finger strength.
"Driving a Nail—Who Needs a Hammer?" by John Brookfield (Vol. 2, No. 1)
After covering nail driving feats, John then demonstrates how to safely do it.
"Can You Do This?" (feats of strength) by John Brookfield (Vol. 2, No. 2)
You are introduced to eight feats of hand strength and endurance that you might want to try.
"Hand Grippers: Closing the Gap" by John Brookfield (Vol. 4, No. 2)
John Brookfield invented what would become a mainstream technique for closing the gap between one Captains of Crush Hand Gripper to the next by adding weight, commonly known as "strap holds."
"Bending Nails: Conquering the 60-Penny" by John Brookfield (Vol. 4, No. 3)
You’ll find out what you need to know about steel and then follow step-by-step the technique for bending nails, a great upper-body, wrist, and hand strength developer.
"Horseshoe Bending" by John Brookfield (Vol. 4, No. 4)
You’ll learn some history about horseshoe bending, the ins and outs of different horseshoes, and, of course, how to bend them a la John Brookfield.
"Card Tearing: Practice With Paper" by David Trainor (Vol. 5, No. 2)
Find out how to practice card tearing with printer’s paper, a more economical yet very effective way to train for hand and finger strength.
"Sand Bags Away" by John Brookfield (Vol. 5, No. 3)
John Brookfield, who thinks the weight for height is one of the greatest tests of power and strength, tells how to train this movement with sand bags, for ultimate stress on your hands and fingers.
"Keys to Progress: Grip and Forearm Development—Part I" John McCallum (Vol. 5, No. 4)
John McCallum tells you why a good grip and impressive forearms are worth working for.
"Keys to Progress: Building the Grip and Forearm" by John McCallum (Vol. 6, No. 1)
John McCallum’s grip and forearm development includes a general bulk and power program along with specific hand strength training, supplementary exercises, and grip stunt practice.
"Mashed Potatoes" by John Brookfield (Vol. 6, No. 1)
John Brookfield clears up any doubts about whether or not you can crush a raw potato with your hand strength; you can and he’ll tell you how.
"Progressions in Steel" by Tom Black (Vol. 7, No. 1)
Tom Black applies some lessons on the ability to experiment and observe results from Leonardo da Vinci to bending nails, with instruction from beginner level to advanced.
"Pigging Out" by David Trainor (Vol. 7, No. 4)
Richard Sorin has his Blob, John Brookfield has his block weights, and David Trainor has his "pig," a 4-inch dia. steel cylinder which he fashioned into a dumbbell for serious grip work.
"Meeting the Challenge: The No. 3 Captains of Crush® Gripper" by Bill Piche (Vol. 7, No. 4)
How did three Captains of Crush train to do their mighty deed: close the No. 3 Captains of Crush Hand Gripper?  Bill tells you how they did it, firing you up about hand strength as well.
"Building Forearms Strong Enough to Lift the Thomas Inch Dumbbell" by Dr. Alan Radley (Vol. 8, No. 1)
Failing to lift the Inch Dumbbell at the 1999 Oscar Heidenstam Awards dinner, Dr. Alan Radley vowed to succeed the following year—which he did through a determined, dedicated program to build his grip and forearm power.

"Building Wrist Strength" by Steve Justa (Vol. 8, No. 1)
Steve Justa tells you why strong wrists are important and shares his method for building your wrist strength.

"New Twists for Wrist Rollers" by Fred Hutchinson (Vol. 8, No. 2) Fred Hutchinson offers one effective variation after another on wrist roller training for building your forearms and grip strength.

"Scrollwork: Bending Bars into Artistic Shapes" by John Brookfield (Vol. 9, No. 2) John Brookfield has surpassed all others in the art of scrollwork: bending long bars into artistic shapes. Beware: upper body, hand and wrist strength is a must.

"Training the Rock Climber’s Grip" by David Hurzeler (Vol. 9, No. 2) Train your grip specifically for rock climbing, while maintaining good tendon health in your hands.

"Always Clean Your Plate" by John Brookfield (Vol. 9, No. 3) Take your pinch gripping to a new level of hand strength, building your entire lower arm in the process, using a variety of exercises with plates.

"Get a Grip on Yourself!" by Charles Fraser (Vol. 9, No. 4) Try these grip-building exercises that mostly use regular equipment found in a gym.

"Campus Board Training for Finger Power" by Zarrin McDaniel Leff (Vol. 10, No.1) The effects and benefits of campus board training and a variety of campus board exercises are presented as the rock climber’s ultimate finger strengthening tool.

"On the Supremacy of the Plate Curl" by Merle Meeter (Vol. 10, No. 3) These variations make training on the plate curl enormously superior for building your thumb, finger, and wrist strength.

"Back to the Board Room" by John Brookfield (Vol. 11, No.1) Two exercises using boards develop crushing strength in your hands - and especially the thumbs.

"Round-up for the Squeeze" by John Brookfield (Vol. 11, No. 3) Cross-train to close your Captains of Crush Hand Grippers, by training your crushing grip on six different common round objects.

"The Slaying of Goliath: Bending a Red Nail" by John Brookfield (Vol. 11, No.4) Learn two different nail bending techniques, one using chest power and one using lower arm and hand strength, and how to accomplish them effectively and safely when bending a Red Nail.

"The No. 4" by Kent Durso (Vol. 12, No. 1) Kent Durso, who has a way with words, deftly captures the essence of the No. 4 Captains of Crush Hand Gripper in this poetic musing.

"Slaying the Dragon—Samson’s Harp" by John Brookfield (Vol. 12, No. 2) Rolling up a giant piece of steel, twenty feet long, three to five inches wide and one-quarter to three-eighths inch thick, is the ultimate steel bending challenge for mind and body.

"Crushing or Rolling Up a Frying Pan" by John Brookfield (Vol. 12, No. 3) After a lesson in history as well as the differences in frying pans, John leads you through the steps for both rolling and crushing a frying pan, a classic test of hand strength.

"For a Kung-Fu Grip" by Fred Hutchinson (Vol. 12, No. 4) A whole spectrum of grip development methods based on traditional Chinese martial arts training are low-tech or no-tech, requiring no equipment or easily obtained items.

"Ninja Grip Training" by Fred Hutchinson (Vol. 13, No. 1) A range of highly effective hand strength training methods that, while not claimed to be authentic Japanese ninja training, are presented in the ninja martial arts tradition.

"Pinch Grip Chins: Rock the Rafters" by Brad Johnson (Vol. 13, No. 2) Get inspired by some of the best pinch grip chin performances of the past, and learn the exercises and technique to improve your own pinch grip strength to “rock the rafters”.

"Building Your Grip: A Great Way to Start" by Jim Blosser (Vol. 13, No. 3) Little did Jim realize that his long-time desire to have an anvil would lead to goal-setting for grip strength; let Jim help you build your hand strength to the max.

"Grip Power" by Brad Johnson (Vol. 13, No. 3) Brad reports how tension generation techniques helped him make remarkable increases in his hand strength.

“Get on the Stick” by John Brookfield (Vol. 13, No. 3) John introduces a new method for grip and upper-body strength that is simple in concept but dramatic in results.

“Training with Broken Dumbbells” by Tim Piper and Mike Waller (Vol. 13, No. 3) What do you do with a broken dumbbell? Use it as part of your grip training workout, of course!

“Walk, Don’t Run” by John Brookfield (Vol. 13, No. 4) John Brookfield shows you a walking exercise that works your entire body and also works your grip in a powerful way.

“The Effects of Loaded Stretching on Pull-up Performance” by Brad Johnson (Vol. 14, No. 2) Brad Johnson’s experiment shows that loaded stretching has a substantial positive effect on pull-up strength.

“Training out of the Box: Jumping Pull-ups” by John Brookfield (Vol. 14, No. 4) John Brookfield shows you an exercise to develop all-out strength and conditioning, as well as hand strength and some mental endurance, as well.

“Bodyweight Exercises for the Spike Bender” by Brad Johnson (Vol. 14, No. 4) Brad Johnson describes the bodyweight exercises he has used to improve his hand and upper-body crushing strength specifically for spike bending.

“Oven Mitts for Red Hot Reps” by Richard Moores and Paul Barrett (Vol. 15, No. 3) If you want a change of pace from standard forearm workouts, using oven mitts is a great alternative for training one’s grip and forearm strength and breaking hand strength barriers.

“Rope Pull-Ups” by Brad Johnson (Vol. 15, No. 3) Rope pull-ups are a good alternative to rope climbing and share many of the benefits— upper-body strength and increased grip strength.

“Destination: Certification” by Ben Edwards (Vol. 15, No. 3) Follow certified gripster Ben Edwards on his journey to world-class grip strength and closing the No. 3 Captains of Crush Gripper. Following his guide will ensure you don’t make some of the common mistakes in your progress with hand grippers.

“Finger Pull-Ups for Ferocious Fingertips” by Brad Johnson (Vol. 16, No. 2) Finger pull-ups are excellent for working open hand and fingertip strength. Brad Johnson shares the exercise set-up and progressions to safely perform this exercise.

“Training for Grip Competitions” by Dave Hurzeler (Vol. 18, No. 2) A combination of general strength training and specific grip strength and pre-hab work is recommended for the world of competitive grip.

“Roundtable Report: Deep Setting Grippers" (Vol. 19, No. 3) A cross-section of gripsters debate the pros and cons of using the deep set in training and as a test of strength.

“Wrist Rolling 101” by Steve Belanger (Vol. 20, No. 1) Learn all about the wrist roller: background (it was used at an early World's Strongest Man contest by Franco Columbo, Lou Ferrigno, and Mike Dayton); benefits; and workouts and variations; as well as training for grip contests.

“Gripper Training: Thinking Outside the Box” by Bill Piche (Vol. 20, No. 3) Learn advanced and experimental gripper training techniques from the author of KTA.

“I Need to Learn How to Cheat Better!” by Josh Dale (Vol. 20, No. 3) Born out of the desire to match or surpass classic feats of hand strength, a large rift in the sport of grip is explored, spawning a debate between the purists and the "feat-cheaters".



Articles in MILO:  A Journal for Serious Strength Athletes

If you’re not familiar with our quarterly strength journal MILO, let us introduce you to this publication non pareil, unmatched in the quality and scope of its articles and photos on people, training, contests, and history covering Olympic-style weightlifting, powerlifting, strongman, Highland Games, arm wrestling, grip, and other strength sports. If you like strength, you’ll love MILO.

Blueprint for Grip Strength DVD (No. 1392) by John Brookfield
A pile of new movements and fresh ways to get that grip you want, with a focus on closing Captains of Crush Hand Grippers, bending steel, and tearing cards.
Grip Strength for Enhanced Sports Performance (No. 1423) by Championships Productions
Gillingham is code for grip strength, so listen up and learn a lot as Wade walks through the principles of effective hand strength training for a wide range of sports.
Grip Masters
Meet John Brookfield: consummate master of traditional strongman feats whose impressive hand and wrist strengths puts him in a class by himself as an endurance steel bender.
We introduce the first-ever Captain of Crush, pinch-grip artist, and Blob creator Richard Sorin and find out how he got started lifting weights and performing formidable feats of hand strength.
Top-rolling arm wrestler John Ottarski is a self-described “lower arm, wrist, hand, finger specialist” whose inventive training techniques include the now widely used softball hold, as well as traditional hand grippers.
J. B. Kinney talks about the injury that drove him to rebuild his arm and his grip strength and to do squats, revealing the iron heart and iron will that made him a Captain of Crush.
Read our report on J. B. Kinney’s stunning feat as the first ever to close the No. 4 Captains of Crush Hand Gripper.
Meet the strongman showman from Texas who excels in grip feats of strength.
The second man to officially close the No. 4 Captains of Crush Hand Gripper, Nathan Holle is as distinguished by his modesty and integrity as he is by his hand strength.
"Is Andrew Durniat for Real?" by Thom Van Vleck with Al Myers (Vol. 18, No. 1)
UAndrew's path to fame in the grip world is nothing short of inspiring.  His impressive strength feats are sure to motivate you.
"Imagining Beowulf's Grip" by Harley J. Sims (Vol. 19, No. 1)
Using present-day standards, Harley Sims examines the epic claims of the poem Beowulf and Beowulf's grip
Grip contest coverage and results for four events testing hand and finger strength.
Grip contest coverage and results for four events testing hand and finger strength.  
Join the high jinks as the Gillingham boys try to out-do each other on the Rolling Thunder Deadlift Handle, a test of open hand strength.
The article that showcased the legendary Inch Dumbbell and its story, past and present, and launched a revival, resulting in many new comers willing and ready for this hand strength challenge.
Find out what happened at the first ever All-Round Super Grip Challenge (1999).
The first-ever Rolling Thunder contest was a huge hit at the 2000 Beauty and the Beast Strongman contest, with Jan Bartl setting the first world record at 265.4 lb.
The second annual Rolling Thunder World Championships was contested by all the top strongmen at the 2001 Beauty and the Beast—and Jan Bartl’s world record remained safe for another year.
The Blockbuster Pinch Grip Block and the Rolling Thunder were the implements of battle between the strongman competitors, testing their open hand and pinch grip strength.  How do you compare?
 Over three hundred people challenged the Blob over two days at the 2002 Mr. Olympia, testing their open hand strength.
Wade tells us that if you want to be the Rolling Thunder champion, you have to show up at a contest and take the title—as Odd Haugen proved.
Wade Gillingham reports on the World Series of grip strength contests, which includes closing a Captains of Crush Hand Gripper, lifting the Blob, and lifting the Rolling Thunder Deadlift Handle.
Grip strength enthusiasts from England, Wales, Spain, and the U.S. vied for the top spots in this grip contest, testing their hand strength in a series of one and two hand events.
The inaugural Vise Grip Viking Challenge was a grip contest that broke more than one mold, and brought together top grip guys and strongmen like Andrew Durniat, Mark Felix, Chad Woodall, and L. P. Jean. Called "one of the most successful contests," the grip strength feats were captured in the amazing photos taken by Randall J. Strossen, Ph.D.
Defending champion Mark Felix faced off against grip masters Andres Durniat and Odd Haugen, and strongman Michael Burke, in the top-rated contest that included the Rolling thunder and the Apollon's Axle.
Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Ukrainian city of Yalta on the Black Sea, 73 athletes combine to break 18 world records in this armlifting championship.
 Certified Captains of Crush® and Red Nail™ Roster

"The Boys at Bollenbach’s: One Joins the Captains of Crush and Five More are Knocking at the Door" by Randall J. Strossen, Ph.D. (Vol. 3, No. 1)

Find out what’s special about Bob Bollenbach’s Gym and why grip strength guys love to go there and train on their Captains of Crush Hand Grippers.

"Gripping Sideshow at the Arnold Classic: Manfred Hoeberl Joins the Captains of Crush" by William R. Hansen (Vol. 5, No. 1)

Find out which big names did and didn’t close the No. 2 and No. 3 Captains of Crush Hand Grippers at the 1997 Arnold Classic.

"The Strongman and the Kid: The Latest Captain of Crush" by Manfred Hoeberl (Vol. 5, No. 3)

Strongman Manfred Hoeberl tells this charming and brief tale of guts and determination when Robert Baraban showed up at his door to be witnessed for closing the No. 3 Captains of Crush Hand Gripper.

"A Handful of New Captains of Crush" by Randall J. Strossen, Ph.D. (Vol. 5, No. 4)

Three new Captains of Crush are profiled for having closed the No. 3 Captains of Crush Hand Gripper.

"A New Batch of Captains of Crush" by Randall J. Strossen, Ph.D. (Vol. 6, No. 2)

We introduce four more gripsters who earned the title of Captain of Crush, including the first teenage Captain of Crush Jesse Marunde, by closing the No. 3 Captains of Crush Hand Gripper.

"Congratulations, Captains of Crush!" (Vol. 6, No. 3)

Meet four strong-handed men who have conquered the No. 3 Captains of Crush Hand Gripper.

"Captains of Crush® Grippers: Who’s New" (Vol. 9, No. 2 and all MILOs thereafter)

We introduce the latest Captains of Crush in this new ongoing MILO section--all of whom have conquered a No. 3 or No. 4 Captains of Crush Hand Gripper.

"Red Nail™ Roster" (Vol. 11, No. 2 and all MILOs thereafter)

We introduce those certified as having bent a Red Nail in this new ongoing MILO section showcasing wrist and hand strength exemplars.