Gripper training tips – eccentrics

In this article, I am going to cover a topic that comes across every now and then on the online gripper training discussions.

First of all, let me tell you that I have utilized heavy eccentrics and experimented with them quite a bit in my own training. I have made the same mistakes I see many others repeating. I have just been fortunate enough to learn about them in time before wrecking my hands completely. While some of what I write about may have been covered a number times, I don’t think writing this article was a waste of time. I wrote this article especially for those who are in the beginning or intermediate stages of their training. Often times novice is overly enthusiastic and eager to search for THAT golden training program to take them all the way to closing Captains of Crush #4.

There is probably no other person in the world whose gripper training techniques have been so eagerly emulated than Joe Kinney. I have experimented with them as well. The problem is, people try to copy everything that they believe Kinney did and hurt themselves in the process. Some people seem to have some sort of blind faith that what Kinney did is the only way to go if you want to achieve great results. I am not going to explain how I have understood the ways Joe Kinney trained, as that is a subject for whole article in itself, but I will share what I think to be useful.

So, what I would say is to keep away from really heavy eccentric training and all sorts of Kinney-copying until you have developed a decent base strength. To a gripper enthusiast this means to stay away from any of that until you are closing #3’s in your training and you are not experiencing any pains or aches. If you have any trouble with your joints or tendons it is foolish to even try doing eccentric training.

I would also advice against hard eccentric training with grippers and grip machines unless you have developed a fairly balanced strength base covering all aspects of hand and forearm strength. For example, if just regular gripper closes or attempts on goal gripper feel painful in any way, do not even think about heavy eccentrics. The most common symptoms that people seem to get if they focus too much on grippers are pain in the knuckles or wrists. These are clear signs that training is not balanced.

Eccentric training is tough for connective tissues. Connective tissues are slow to develop and it takes a lot of time to make them stronger. Eccentric training is a tool that can work for you or against you in this.

So what would be the first step if you want to try eccentric training to help you? Or actually the second step, as first is to build a balanced base strength. The second step is to determine, what would be the correct resistance to use.  This is where many go wrong. Eccentric loads of 30 – 40 % greater than one’s maximum concentric lift or movement can be used, but person must gradually work up to them, not jump into them straight away. Let me explain through example. So you are not quite closing your average #3 gripper, let’s say you are about ¼” off.  Your average #3 would be about 150 lbs if measured on a Redneck Gripper Calibrator and you can’t close it, so we would estimate your maximum to be around 140 lbs or so. You are desperate to close your #3 and like many others, you have read about doing “negatives” or heavy eccentrics on a #4. So that’s what you start to do. Without actually knowing how much beyond your concentric maximum that is. Let’s assume your #4 is around 210 lbs. 30 % of the 140 lbs would be about 42 lbs and 40 % would be 56 lbs. So a gripper poundage range you would slowly need to build up to for your eccentric training would be 182 lbs to 196 lbs. With a 210 lbs #4, you are way out of this range. Oh and of course you have filed down the other handle of that #4 as well to make it even harder than that. So it isn’t surprising that many injure themselves with these.

To benefit from eccentric training, build up to that 30 – 40 % range slowly. Just start doing some eccentrics with a gripper that is your current goal gripper. If the #3 is your goal gripper and you have never held a #3 closed in your hand, then isn’t it just common sense that you need to condition your soft tissues to stand that kind of pressure first, before jumping into harder grippers?

My point is to train hard, but train smart. Best strength gains are made through consistency and it is hard to stay consistent if you get stupid and injure yourself. Personally I have been just lucky in the past not to injure myself, as I was doing very heavy eccentrics with extended handle Beefbuilder Pro when I had no business doing so. Don’t count on luck.


One Response to “Gripper training tips – eccentrics”

  1. Very true, anyway going to fast is almost always counter productive in the long run, slow and steady it is.

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