Choker work on grippers

I think most people training on grippers aren’t familiar with this method. Even of those people who seem to be, I’m not quite sure they are getting the most out of it. In my experience, choker work done right is one of the single most effective things you could ever do on grippers to get them closed in shortest possible time. I’m going to discuss this gripper training method in detail here, gathering all the bits and pieces I’ve talked about elsewhere.

What is this choker work then?

Choker is a small device you use to set the handles in a narrow position for focusing your training efforts towards the hardest part of the ROM, the close, without wasting your energy on the easier start.

Why to use choker?

Is it the last little bit that is holding you back on that gripper you want to close, even though it doesn’t feel that bad from the beginning, but you get stuck at 1/4″ or less from getting the gripper closed? I think many of you recognize yourself from this description. Other questions I’d like you to answer: Do your hands feel sort of slow? If yes, then the choker work is for you. Can you get almost any gripper to parallel, but can’t actually close them? If yes, do the choker work. Have you been training on doing reps mostly, but have been stale for long time already? If you answer yes, why not give choker work a chance.

For all of you who answered yes to any of those questions, I will walk you through how to make that choker work actually work for you. Like with any other method of training, it’s not the equipment alone that makes a difference, you have to know how to use it for getting the most out of it. I’ve read about people trying the chokers, but shortly giving up on them because they did not see gains. Most likely, it is just that you haven’t done it right.

What to use for choker? What gripper to choke? How to do that?

Easy and cheap way is to get strong hose clamp and use that around the top of the handles. I’ve seen people commenting on how the hose clamp would slide around and they are afraid that it might pinch. Easy way to solve this is to wrap a layer of athletic tape around the handles before putting the hose clamp on, finger width slices about 20 cm long will do. This helps to keep the clamp in place, as it sinks to the layer of tape. The tape serves another purpose too. I know not all of you care how your grippers look, but for those that do, the tape keeps your gripper’s knurling from smoothening underneath the choker.

I don’t know how often you can say that the easiest and cheapest way is also the best, but as for using a hose clamp as a choker it just is. I’ll get into reasons for that later, but first, I will discuss about other methods of choking a gripper. I recommend hose clamp specifically around the handles as a #1 choice, but I know there are larger handed individuals out there who just can’t fit their wide hands on the handles then. So we need a way to choke the gripper around the spring. There are options for that as well. I’m going to discuss of those that you don’t need to be a handyman to be able to use. First, there are big washers. They are cheap and easy, but nonadjustable, unless you get different size washers. Other option is getting a suitable size muffler clamp. It’s adjustable, a good quality on a choker and allows for even more effective training. I’m sure there are more, but these are easy to find and easy to use, plus cheap, which is always a bonus.

Now that you have the choker of your choice, you need to choose a gripper for the job as well. There is not much point in choking a gripper you are nowhere near closing. For best results, I’d say you should use your current short term goal gripper, the one you are getting to somewhere around 1/4″ or under using a parallel set. Don’t go too heavy. Next, if you are going with the hose clamp as I recommended, wrap that tape around those handles. Then, you need a vise, and something to protect the gripper handles while you set the gripper handles 1/4” beyond parallel in the vise. Then put the clamp on and make sure to set it real tight. Open up the vise and your gripper is choked at around parallel. If you chose to use an adjustable choker, you can adjust the gap between the handles, I recommended parallel as a starting point.

Around the Handles vs. Around the Spring – What difference does it make?

I recommended choking around the handles as a first choice. Here are the reasons. Choker around the handles makes for a harder start. That requires real explosion against the handles to get the movement started and in my opinion that is the real key for getting most out of the choker work. The ability to generate as much power as possible within the shortest possible time is what really helps on the max strength in general too, but especially on grippers, as by nature, gripper close tends to be a slow exercise, because the resistance gets harder throughout the ROM, unlike on free weights. So you tend to squeeze slow, which certainly isn’t the way to go.

Choker around the spring makes for a lot easier start and for that part of the remaining ROM you are not working as hard as you normally would on that gripper, leading you to false conclusions of how you are actually measuring up against that gripper. Also the easy start doesn’t force you to develop that explosive strength, as the gripper handles will start to move just by gradually applying pressure and you are loosing the benefit. That is not the case when you have hard enough gripper choked around handles! But for those of you who can’t use the choker around the handles, it doesn’t mean that you are not getting anything out of your choker work. You are still working very hard at the point when the handles are touching and you haven’t wasted your energy getting there. It’s just the benefit of a hard start that you are loosing.

The reason for the choking around the spring of the two ways to choke a gripper beeing easier, is the fact that when choker is around the spring, the spring is readily more compressed. So if you set the distance between the handles to parallel, you would believe to be working hard from that position. It is decieving, in reality you are working hard through shorter ROM than that. Normally, when the gripper closes, the part of the spring going inside the handles will also bend some, not just the coil. The soft start associated with choker around the spring, is this bending of the spring at the top of the handles occurring before the spring coil starts to compress. When the choker is placed around the handles, this bending is already taken out, making for a tougher start.

I hope I managed to explain this, but I’m sure this makes more sense if you try this yourself. I have experimented a lot on this matter and found out that the choker around the handles is more productive of the two methods.

What is the real key to make most out of it?

The most important thing to know is that to get most out of your time spent on choker work, you need to concentrate all your efforts to teaching yourself how to generate maximum amount of force in minimal amount of time. I think it is too easy to forget with grippers, that you should be at least trying to close them as fast as possible, as it is imperative for developing maximal strength. Really explode against those handles!

Some people say how they can’t get the feel right when they are training with chokers. I believe it is the lack of explosive strength, and I also believe it is one of the key qualities that allow you to close bigger grippers. Choker work can really help to fix that.

Progressive distance choker method

Now, I’m going to talk about something I might not have come up on my own, but haven’t seen anyone do before me precisely in a way that I have done it. This technique has honestly helped me to break through plateaus. Yes, the technique is pretty obvious. It is simple, but effective. It is similar to what Nathan Holle described in the book about CoC-grippers, but done with chokers. When I started experimenting with this, I figured that since hose clamps are adjustable, why not use that as an advantage.

Basically, we are just going to increase the ROM gradually here, starting from handles being closer to closed and opening it up from there. It works especially well, if you miss the gripper by 1/8″ or at least get it under 1/4″ without choker and can set the gripper without any problems. The good position to start would be a distance you can just barely get the handles to touch for a single or double. I’ve usually started from parallel. I advice against choking the gripper too deep, as in under 10 mm. Choke this deep kills the gripper and you are not working against the full strength of the spring.

Work up to squeezing the handles together hard for 3-5 sec for 5 singles. Gradually start opening up the choker just a little from parallel, aiming gradually to 30 mm or 1 and 1/4″ close. Do not rush it, get consistent on the position you are working on. Also force the missed attempts closed.

As for choker close correspondence to regular parallel set, I think you have to be closing a gripper from atleast 1″ distance or rather closer to 1 and 1/4″ distance for 5 singles to get it with parallel set. I’m talking about choking around the handles, this is different around the spring. This is a guideline I’ve formulated through my own experience using the progressive distance choker method successfully with 3.28, 3.54 and 3.86 -level grippers. 30mm has been the actual width for me that’s pretty much guaranteed the MM-set close. It hasn’t held true with one gripper though. At my best gripper strength peak so far I managed to close my 3.80 BBSE from 30mm choked distance, yet I missed the close but that’s more to do with off-hand setting strength. I’m of the opinion that parallel is a good starting point on a choker work, but you need to work them wider than that for best results. Of course you can jump up to bigger grippers instead and work the same distance, but the progressive distance choker work on the same gripper is a good way to microload. It’s also easier on the head as you can get successful closes more often when you progress little step by step. Success creates good momentum and that’s what you need for good gains.

What kind of training program to use?

The way I see it, it is better to gear towards singles in order to make your efforts count on choker work. If you follow some rep regime it is easier to let yourself just go through the motions. Also the nature of the grippers is that you tend to squeeze them slow. The more reps you do, you tend to go slower. The more reps you aim to do, the softer you squeeze when the handles are touching, as you want to get more reps you are rushing through it. You are missing out then, working less on the part where you should work hardest. Soft and slow makes for a bad combo and is not making you stronger!

So practice explosive singles when you do your choker work. You should be working on a pretty tough gripper anyway when you are doing the choker work, so forget about reps. The most basic program that has worked for me has been 5 singles on a choker and 3-5 overcrushes on easier gripper (this gripper can be filed) on top. I would wait at least 3 minutes, but rather 5 minutes between singles to be able to do them explosively. 3 times a week worked for me. Goal was to get all the singles closed for 3-5 count and squeezing as hard as I could when the handles were touching.

My personal experience

I have done lots of choker work and I still do it a lot, not all the time but it is certainly something I will go back on when I feel it’s time again. I’d say it is one of the most important ingredients of an effective gripper training. I advice against training solely on the choked grippers: while it teaches you how to explode against the handles, which is very very important, it is still a bit different than regular parallel set close. I’d advice you to throw in some parallel set work and maybe even some no set work to the mix, to be better able to utilize the strength you’ve built by doing choker work. That is a one thing I’ve learned from my past experimenting. It is not easy to make gripper gains happen after a certain point and I’d encourage anyone to give this a shot, as it might work for you as well. Give it a go and let me know how it goes, best of luck!

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15 Responses to “Choker work on grippers”

  1. Great article, Teemu, I’m gonna start choker-training now.

  2. grippernut Says:

    Thanks man, go for it, it pays off, give it 6-8 weeks and you’ll know.

  3. Absolutely brilliant article Teemu! I started some choked gripper work today.

  4. grippernut Says:

    Glad you found it useful! Let me know how it goes.

  5. Thank you for excelent idea about grippers. I started to work with choked Vulcan gripper at Level 10, but now i can do only 3 singles from 20 mm and 2 singles to 2 mm miss 🙂 …. I will work over it !!!

  6. Mike Rinderle Says:

    Teemu,

    After failing my 1st attempt at the Mash Monster Level 2 Gripper a couple weeks ago, I revisited this article. The only training I did between my two attempts was 3 choker training sessions (170# RB300 choked to parallel). I was successful on my second attempt, less than 2 weeks after my first. I recommend this article and choker training to everyone!

  7. Great article Teemu!!!

    What does your current routine look like?

    What’s your e-mail address?

  8. Trevor Staines Says:

    I’ve found this very helpful, I can close the CoC #2 T.N.S, now have filed and chocked it, and doing 1×5 exposive chock training as of yesterday. Will come back in a month and let you know how i got on.

    • grippernut Says:

      Good, let me know how it goes.

      • Trevor Staines Says:

        I’ve been Choker training with a 2# and found it easy to close, have moved up to a CoC 2.5# and can hardly move it. Will keep you updated.

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