I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
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Monday, 27 February 2012

Grippers by Stevie ‘the claw’ Haston.

Tools of the trade

Hand Grippers have been for about 100 years, but most people dismiss them. I think they are fun, and they can help with hand strength, so why not get one?

Their basic plus, is that they are light, and portable, and they are fairly cheap. They are not the be all and end all, just an adjunct.

What do they do? Well they don’t do a lot, it’s you that does the work, and its you that has to find out how to use them to your advantage. The reason most people dismiss them is because they see no application to rock climbing, well, think a little out side this narrow way, and you might see some thing in Grippers for you. The hand is a really wonderful thing, it’s so complex, it needs a whole gym to exercise it properly, and grippers can make up a part.

The normal way to use a gripper is the ‘Crush’, kindda just squeezing, and this isn’t super useful to a climber except in one small overlooked area, the little and ring finger. The little and ring finger are the weakest, and so it might be profitable to strengthen them. If you invert the Gripper in the hand; the strain is the opposite, it is now primarily taken on the index, and the ‘rude’ finger. So you already have two ways to train. If you buy a gripper that you cant close, the range of movement is almost nothing, so the gripper turns into an open hand strengthener in a static mode like in climbing. Now if you buy a gripper that is too weak for you, you can close it in a crimp. So now you have four options to train with. If you use the gripper to train your thumb, it is getting very interesting, because the thumb can be ridiculously strong. You can do all this with an adjustable strength Hand gripper; or two grippers of different strengths.

My hands are very weak at present, so I am going to start using them again. If you have just a very good crimp like many climbers do, good for you, but you might consider rounding out your hand strength and hand health. Mixed climbers will fully realise the importance of hand strength as their hands unwrap from an axe, and they plummet. And if you find yourself unable to untie your knot, or undo a Screwgate carabiner, you can get into a bad fix, don’t blame your hand strength, blame yourself. Hands are amazing things, to think of them, as just crimping devices is dumb. When you have to pump up a rope from an overhanging fall you might be keen on a bit of Crush power.

Grippers come in different strengths just like climbers. There have been a few climbers with very good grips, and in-fact one of the few tests that seems to reflect leading, and bouldering ability, is a calibrated grip test. If you do a lot of Trad climbing, and have to help your buddy on the rope, a bit of hand strength is very welcome. So try to explore the possibilities of a Hand gripper, and you might get more out of it, and your hands. Obviously climbing related grips are the best for climbing; but grippers defiantly are useful if you temporarily don’t have access to either climbing, or a Finger board.

There is some evidence you can train the Hands with a lotta volume, and also with negatives, but be shy of working against the natural movement of the joints. If you want to train the hands negatively, or in a Stactic hold, close the hand with two hands, and hold with one. In extreme cases you can use a cheat bar, and this is much kinder on your lower back than big dead lifts.

Good luck and don’t hurt yourself.