Credit Card Set – A Recent Trend

In this article, I’m going to discuss about the recent developments that I’ve seen evolving around gripper training. It seems to me, that more and more people are using the Credit Card Set in training grippers these days, without giving it a second thought. I’m going to ask why?


IronMind Enterprises introduced the Credit Card Set (CCS) as a new rule regarding the set width for officially certifying on their CoC #3 and CoC #4 grippers few years ago, because the old 1” rule regarding the set was not been followed as intended in all certs. This rule change created a lot of controversy and frustration among the grip community, the change was not well received to say the least. Without getting too deep into that ugly topic, I can now see the change happening. All of a sudden, there are a lot of guys writing down the use of the CCS in their grip training logs and also plenty of videos of guys trying to close grippers of all levels with that set. It is obvious, that this recent trend in gripper training is the influence of the IronMind’s certification rules. I think it’s time to stop and think about it again.

Breaking it down

It is safe to say, that none of us gripper guys would be even playing around with the idea of inserting a card between the gripper handles before squeezing if it would not happen to be a rule of the most widely recognized gripper certification programme. Let’s pretend for a while that there is no such rule and no certification and we were using these grippers only to get stronger. If we would not know of the rule, and were only to think how to get most out of our gripper training, I don’t think anyone familiar with the basics of strength training would toss in an idea to goof around with a credit card to get stronger faster? No way, you would get laughed at by some people and with good luck, get good advice from others. My good advice in that situation would be to leave that credit card in a wallet and save it for its intended purpose. However, as this is the set used in IronMind certification, there is a time and place to practice it for those who have the certifying on the #3 or even the #4 as a goal, but it certainly isn’t time well spent to be closing your grippers with this card set all the time. I will get into details later.

Now, one thing I’d like to say at this point is that don’t get me wrong. I personally don’t have anything against this CCS-rule in the IronMind’s certification programme, it is their certification and they can do what they want with it. It is making the certifying hard, but the way I see it hard is just something to shoot for. But the point I want to make, is to separate this feat of crushing strength from the actual training.

Reasons to drop it

First of all, anyone who has seen my gripper videos would probably want to point out, that hey, why are you closing grippers with the CCS if you are the one to suggest dropping it? Let me defend myself by saying that reason for me would be to occasionally test myself on this awkward feat of strength. Plus it makes for a good video! I am not playing around with that card in my training these days. I used to practice the CCS to get my technique together, when I was closing my #3’s in training and was preparing myself to certify on the #3. CCS is a lot about technique and it becomes more apparent if your hands are somewhat smallish. But as for actual strength training, the CCS has obvious drawbacks that I would want you to consider.

Anyone who has given the CCS a try knows that it is an awkward movement. You need to hold the card with your setting hand to have it ready and to set the gripper some before inserting the card between the handles, then to measure if the distance is what it should be. This is taking way more time for most than simply setting the gripper some to get your fingers properly on the handle and immediately squeezing it as hard and as fast as you can. As the CCS takes more time, it takes away the explosive strength and momentum, which are critical aspects of effective strength training. It turns the knob towards a test of endurance rather than a test of strength. In effective strength training, you always aim to move even the biggest weights as fast as you can. This is not happening with the CCS. As you are fiddling with that card you are effectively pre-exhausting yourself in the joint angle, which is not critical to completely closing the gripper. Consider it a time and energy wasted on something that is not important in developing the maximal strength. It is not helping you to close those grippers in a best possible way and in shortest amount of time.

I’m well aware of the parallel set vs. wide set vs. no set debates that pop up every now and then in the grip discussion forums. While the no set-advocates often talk about no set as building strength throughout the ROM, therefore being superior, the other side going on about parallel set argue about it having carryover to the rest of the ROM. In my experience, there’s truth to both statements, but that would depend on where is your weakness. But the CCS doesn’t belong in this conversation for the reasons already listed above, it is nearly a full range movement that is interfered with a card positioning, making it less effective as a full range movement. If you do insist on working the wider sets, forget about the CCS in training. Try the no set or minimum amount of set you need to get your fingers properly positioned instead and squeeze hard and fast. I would suggest working on the wider sets if you really feel you are lacking the strength through the sweep, or the part of the ROM before the handles are parallel. Without fiddling with that card you are making your efforts count, as you are able to blast through the ROM with speed and each attempt takes you less time, saving that energy for really squeezing those handles together and energy for more effective repetitions or singles.

But I really want to certify, I need to train the CCS

You are right, but as I’ve said above, there is a right time to start practicing the close with the card then. It is not when you are still struggling to close that #2 or #2.5 or anything easier than #3. Then, it is not your time and effort well spent. You are constantly missing out on the part of the ROM you should be working the hardest to completely close your target, #3. Regardless of the set width being used, it doesn’t change the fact that you should be working the hardest when the handles are touching.

I strongly suggest, based on my own experience, having developed a crushing grip good for 3.7 – 3.8 level grippers and being able to CCS a hard BB Elite (3.54) despite not actually training the CCS, that you, aiming for closing the #3 and also aiming to certify on it, concentrate your efforts to parallel set closing at least a 3.3-level gripper before giving the CCS a thought. At minimum, you should be able to close a hardest #3 you can find with a parallel set consistently before starting your practice with the wider sets, and then when the wide set close becomes a stable thing for you, practice the technique on CCS. So, one more time, the CCS should not be looked at as a strength training method, but a technique you need to master in order to be able to pull it off without trouble by the time of your cert. It is just technique practice and it doesn’t take you that long to master once you have the proper foundation. Proper foundation means having the required strength you have built with more effective methods and otherwise good gripper technique that you will learn if you concentrate most of your efforts on mastering the parallel set. The skills you learn when trying to master the parallel set, will help you a ton by the time you are ready to start your preparations for the cert, trust me on this.

So forget that CCS in training for a while and make your efforts count. I practiced the CCS just enough to nail the technique, and I was good enough by the time of my certification. You should be able to do the same.


One Response to “Credit Card Set – A Recent Trend”

  1. Very true! CCS is an disadvantage for fast twitch guys.
    I dont see the reason behind it.

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