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View Full Version : Curious - "Kinds" of grip strength?


Justin Arnold
10-27-2010, 09:45 PM
Years ago I noticed something that got me thinking.. and it just dawned on me to check with the experience here to see what their take on it is.

I've been bouldering for 10 years, achieving a level of ability that is by no means amazing, but quite respectable. Throughout that time I've known a lot of STRONG climbers, though I've pretty much always been the heaviest "climber" I know ranging from about 175-195lb. All of these guys, some of whom can literally do 1 finger pullups on a piece of webbing, do NOT have amazing ability to close grip strength testers. They have huge forearms, so their ability is greater than your average guy, but it isn't at all in line with what you'd expect. The average "guy that works with his hands" would usually beat them in a test of traditional grip strength using a concentric contraction. I've been just KILLED by my best friend that is a welder on our highly scientific, "squeeze the edges of the bathroom scale" test.

The difference seems to be freakish isometric ability. ie, resisting opening once your hand is closed. And to me, that makes sense when considering how climbing is actually done. Rarely do climbers have an open hand on a hold then forcibly close it. We hit the hold with a closed hand then PULL..

Speaking for myself, even when doing rack deadlifts with well over double bodyweight, I feel no need to alternate hands or use a hook grip. I just pull, and grip is never an issue. Same story when training the Olympic Lifts. I've only recently had to start using a hook grip during the snatch/OHS because of a nerve glide issue in my left hand. Going back to my friend the welder, despite him killing me squeezing the bathroom scale, my ability to hang with one or two fingers on a horrible hold, or simply maintain grip a HEAVY object.. I am the one killing it.


Anyway, I just thought this phenomenon was interesting and wondered what other people thought of it, or if I'm imagining things. Maybe someone with a better understanding of how isometric/concentric/eccentric muscle contractions are related, trained and expressed could chime in. Think maybe it's worth looking at with respect to "grip training" for strong man or anything?

Kevin Shaughnessy
10-28-2010, 10:50 AM
Apparently Ironmind came up with a chart that defined grip strength has having three components, namely crushing, pinching, and supporting. I've also noticed the same thing as you, that the carryover between the two isn't as great as would be expected. Myself, I can close the coc#1 12 times with my right hand but still have my hands open with a 285 deadlift, whereas some people are DO their deadlift close to 350 who cant match the feat.

Grissim Connery
10-29-2010, 06:11 AM
Iron mind made their schematic even more complicated now.

http://www.ironmind.com/ironmind/opencms/Main/crushedtodust1.html

All of their tools are now listed according to which part of the cube it focuses on. It feels kinda gimicky at first, but as you guys have pointed out, huge discrepancies in grip strength tend to make this chart necessary.