#PTonICE Daily Show – Friday, May 3rd, 2024 – Advancing grip strength

In today’s episode of the PT on ICE Daily Show, Fitness Athlete lead faculty Joe Hanisko tackles the difference between grip endurance & maximal grip strength. Joe also provides several programming examples to help clinicians know what to program, who to program it for, and when to program it.

Take a listen to the episode or check out the full show notes on our blog at www.ptonice.com/blog

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Hey everybody, Alan here. Currently I have the pleasure of serving as their Chief Operating Officer here at ICE. Before we jump into today’s episode of the PT on ICE Daily Show, let’s give a shout out to our sponsor Jane, a clinic management software and EMR. Whether you’re just starting to do your research or you’ve been contemplating switching your software for a while now, the Jane team understands that this process can feel intimidating. That’s why their goal is to provide you with the onboarding resources you need to make your switch as smooth as possible. Jane offers personalized calls to set up your account, a free date import, and a variety of online resources to get you up and running quickly once you switch. And if you need a helping hand along the way, you’ll have access to unlimited phone, email, and chat support included in your Jane subscription. If you’re interested in learning more, you want to book a one-on-one demo, you can head on over to jane.app slash switch. And if you decide to make the switch, don’t forget to use the code icept1mo at sign up to receive a one month free grace period on your new Jane.

Good morning crew. This is Dr. Joe and it’s going to One of the lead faculty of the fitness athlete division here at ICE. Coming off a great weekend last weekend out in Carson City, Nevada at the Sampler. It was fantastic to see 150 or more PTs from the ICE community there. Great times, great learning, and looking forward to next year as well, which I think is sold out. So if you are interested in going, hop on and grab a waitlist ticket. Pay attention. Jeff will be throwing out some dates for hopping on that waitlist as well. So today, though, team, my plan is to cover… One second, I got a camera issue here. My plan is to cover advanced grip strength. So about a year or so ago I did a podcast on grip strength and it predominantly focused on what I would say is the nuances of grip strength using more of accessory training to build a grip strength within a fitness athlete or just an individual specifically who was looking to build grip strength. But the more I’ve sat back and thought about it, The more I’ve independently tried to train my own grip strength, which I find to be one of my weaknesses in the sport of CrossFit, I really believe that there’s two versions of grip strength, strength that we need to focus on, depending on what our athlete or our person is looking for to develop there. Basically, what I’m going to get at today is specificity of advanced grip strength. And what we’re breaking this down to essentially is two categories. Either someone is looking to build grip strength from more of an endurance perspective, and in the world of CrossFit, I would say that would be like in the gymnastics world. we’re often really taxed on endurance grip strength. That is, while we are on the bar doing things like pull-ups, toast the bar, or possibly on the rings doing more than likely ring muscle-ups of some kind. That is typically what we’re going to hear athletes complain is one of their breaking points is that they just couldn’t hang on or that their grip strength was weakening and therefore when we know through a lot of research now that when the grip goes so do a lot of the other power producing muscles because the energy transfer is just not as clean and clear there. So when I think about endurance grip strength, we’re thinking about gymnastics grip strength training. So that’s one silo. The second silo is going to be more in our weightlifting world of CrossFit, moving maximum loads. But I think that the thing that we haven’t really thought about as much is that when we move max loads, we’re not doing it for long durations. The bar is in our hands for only a few seconds or fraction of a second from the time that the bar leaves the floor until the weight lifting movement, the clean or the snatch, for example, is complete. In other movements like the deadlift, we have strategies like a mixed grip that seems to not be a limiting factor for most once they’ve figured it out, meaning that many people can deadlift their maximum capability with a mixed grip on the bar and their posterior chair and their legs their back are not though are the limiting factor I should say that their grip strength is not the limiting factor so we have a resolution to that in the deadlift but when it comes to the clean and the snatch which require hopefully a hook grip position oftentimes people’s grip strength can be a limiter they may not realize it but often again similar to the gymnastics world when the grip goes our power and our connection to the bar is dampened and when we’re looking to create speed through that mid zone through that second pull of the olympic lifts Often people lose that torque, that grab on the bar, and they lose power production, and the lift may eventually be failed because of that. So certainly it’s not the only thing to consider with weightlifting, but when we’re talking about grip strength, we’re going to look at max grip strength on the barbell as a separate training thought process than we would look at max grip on a gymnastics movement, which tends to be more endurance based.

Let’s talk about endurance first. When I think of endurance-based grip training movements, the one that jumps to me right off the bat is just long-duration bar holds, dead hang or active hang holds on the bar or on the ring. That would be the most obvious one because it’s the most specific to the gymnastics positions and that we are moving on the bars or on the rings. You could add in some dynamic challenges like hip swings or beat swings while doing long duration grip and hold. We could add weight or loaded holds active and dead hang holds from the bar and maybe you would even consider things like farmer’s carries in this group where you’re sustaining a grip on an object for long durations but often the load tends to be relatively moderate compared to our maximum effort, meaning that if you’re hanging from a bar for a minute, that clearly wasn’t, it may have been a max effort for that one minute, but it wasn’t a max effort overall in total grip, like max grip strength there. So those are some of the ideas of how we might choose certain movements, but they’re certainly going to look more like the movement itself, meaning the gymnastics movement as the basis. I wanted to give an example in each of these categories as like a programming idea that we could use so that it kind of comes into play. So lately what I’ve been playing around with on my grip strength training for endurance in the gymnastics world is mechanical drop sets basically, or even just loaded dropsets I guess would be the better word here because we’re not changing the movement as much, but a drop set. Meaning that we’re going to start with something that is significantly more challenging. and then we’re going to try to maintain work output throughout the following sets but we’re manipulating a variable in this case it’ll be load so that even though we’re fatiguing we’re able to maintain high work output over the span so A drop set of active hangs for me lately has looked like this. I have determined what my maximum effort of around 60 to 70 seconds of a hang is loaded, and I picked that one minute mark for a couple reasons. I feel like it’s an easy trackable number that we can repeat over and over again. It is a long enough time in the bar where very rarely are we going to see an athlete maintain more than a minute on any type of gymnastics movement that would be kind of at the peak. So I chose that 60 to 70 second mark and I’ve over time I’ve tested what my max ability to hang in that one minute mark is with adding load onto my body. So let’s say in this situation that I can do a 45 pound plate hang for 60 seconds. That would be set number one. I would then give myself about a minute of rest following that 45 pound hang. I’ll let the grip recover, but not too long. We’re thinking endurance here. We want to repeat this again and I’m hopping back on the bar, but this time I’m dropping by, we’ll say maybe 10 to 15 pounds. So we go from 45 to maybe a 30 pound a dumbbell or a kettlebell that we’re now hanging from. Repeat that one minute. There’s the drop set that we dropped load, but we’re still doing one minute of output here. Rest 45 to 60 seconds. Then maybe we go to a 20 or 25 pound weight. And ultimately I’ve been doing anywhere between four to five sets. So if I start at 45 pounds, my very last set over those four or five sets is going to be just my body weight and I’m trying to hang. My goal is 60 seconds. But often what I’m doing here now is just providing a opportunity for me to really test my max grip hold on the bar or on the rings at body weight after hyperloading it in the three to four sets prior to that. So this is an example of grip strengthening for the endurance training of gymnastics, but you could do a whole lot of other things. But again, as a summary for the endurance grip strength, we’re looking at moderately challenging loads, for longer durations, simulating ultimately the experience of having to hang on to the rings or the bar for long periods of time. We could consider dynamic movements as well, like kipping to challenge the grip or load. Those would be my two best suggestions. And if you’re really, you know, in a bind, we could consider things like farmer’s walks or carries as well too.

So now this has to directly, sort of oppose the next scenario in which we talked about silo number two being grip strength training on a barbell we’re looking to move maximum weight the literally the the absolute max of load that we can hang on to and move effectively and then how we change our ability to have a stronger grip during those movements and So for me personally, I mentioned this briefly before, I believe and I feel myself that often if my grip is going, it’s not that I physically couldn’t necessarily hang on to the bar, it was that it was starting to break my ability to hang on to the bar effectively and energy was leaking out of my hands and therefore as I was trying to create speed on a clean or snatch, once I got past the knees more than likely in that second pull, into triple extension through the following third pull movement that I wasn’t able to create enough energy through the bar to keep it accelerating upward at the appropriate speed or height and I was failing to get my arms up and under it. So I’ve been working on training grip strength on the barbell in really heavy positions on the bar and not only incorporating load but also considering speed because i think speed will challenge the grip as you start to move upwards and everything in the world is trying to push that bar back down towards the floor that has a unique dynamic that needs to be offset by incredible grip strength so here in the olympic lifting world i like to treat this more like strength training max strength training. If I were trying to improve a one rep max back squat, bench press, whatever, I want to kind of treat grip strength training in this scenario very similar. So this could be movements like Simply put, maybe even if you’re warming up your deadlift, we start working on deadlifting with a regular grip, not even a hook grip, just a regular hand over hand grip, which is often going to be the most limiting, but this is a great opportunity that as you’re working from 135 to 225 to 275 and maybe into that 300 pound range as you’re warming yourself up for your heavy loaded deadlifts that you’re just doing a regular grip. That is one option of training grip strength on the barbell. You’re only getting those three or four seconds of each movement. If you’re doing multiple reps in a row, you may have to re-grip the bar and you’ll also realize how quickly that fatigue in the grip comes into play with that. But it’s certainly an option that we could think about building grip strength on the barbell during our deadlift and our deadlift warmups. If you are a trained deadlifter, you will probably run into the scenario that eventually Your body could move more, but your hands can’t hang on to it. And that’s usually when we go to a hook grip, a mixed grip, or possibly straps. But more recently, the way I’ve been going after this is doing rack pulls or heavy barbell holds with rack pulls. So in a rack pull, I can set the barbell height to be starting at around the knee level, which is right after that transition zone of the Olympic lifts. And what I’m often looking to do here is pick a load that I can regular grip that i can move with some sort of speed and intent and i’m moving through that second pull position quickly but just from the rack so grabbing the bar really gripping it standing up with good technique good form and pulling into that essentially hip crease position that power position taking the bar right back to the rack letting go and then repeating it is a short burst a short intentional burst of grip strength that I’m looking to train at loads that are often similar to the amount of weight or even slightly heavier, we’ll say 90 to 110% of what I could clean or snatch. You could do this in a wide grip or more on your clean grip, either one would be fine. But essentially what we’re doing is doing short bursts at high loads. So if we’re thinking about building out like a working set for somebody, I’ve lately been doing anywhere between six or seven, upwards of maybe 10 sets, depending on how I’m feeling, of just sometimes one to two or three reps in a set. So let’s say I have 300 pounds on a bar in that rack position. I grab the bar, squeeze it like hell, pull to power position, set the bar back down, and depending on how that load is feeling, I’d either re-grip and repeat for rep number two, or possibly three, or maybe I’m just doing eight to 10 sets of singles at my max effort. It’s unique in that it won’t be overly taxing from a stamina standpoint, but it certainly will start to train the grip from a speed, power production, and we’ll just call it an integrity position, where it really has to commit to doing what you’re wanting it to do, which is hang onto that bar as it’s moving fast through your transition zone. So that’s an example of a working set that I would do, six to 10 sets, one to maybe two or three reps total at anywhere between 90 to 100, 110% of your Olympic lifting capabilities to start to build confidence and strength in that second pull, or possibly off the floor if that’s where you feel like you’re weakest, but the second pull seems to be where that speed change is occurring, which will challenge the grip the most. The third phase of grip strengthening, I guess, would be back to my original podcast that I’d done a while ago now, which I think a lot of us are becoming more familiar with, which is just accessory grip strength training. And this is the things like, you know, doing forearm work, doing plate pinches, doing spherical or dumbbell head holds, where you’re grabbing on the top of a dumbbell, training our grip in different positions, narrow to fat grip. There’s so many different ways we can go after that. But if we’re only focusing on the unique, accessory grip strength training, I think we’re missing the ability to be more specific and whether that specific need is in endurance, long duration, moderate holds, or if it’s in more of a strength world where it’s maximum loads, quick, fast bursts, I think we need to be thinking about what our athlete is looking for, what we’re looking for as individuals and starting to train within that bubble. So hopefully that was helpful guys. It’s been certainly helpful for me to train this way. I’ve been really putting some time into it. I’m hoping to see some changes because I’ve worked on a lot of grip work for years on and off and I felt like, you know, pound for pound, my grip was okay, but it was starting to inhibit my ability to move barbells faster. So I’ve been putting a lot more of my energy into this max barbell grip and hold position. Um, Good luck with it. It’s challenging. I think you’ll learn from giving it a go. And it certainly fits that mold of specificity, which is always important in our strength training world.

So last thing before signing off, CMFA live courses coming up here in May. I think Mitch is out in Bozeman, Montana. I’ll be in the Duluth, Minnesota area here in the next few weeks. So if you’re looking to get a course last minute and you’re out in Montana or you’re in Minnesota, Michigan, Midwest area, that Duluth course would be awesome. It’s a cool town. We’re already filling up out there. And then in Fenton in June, the third weekend of June, we are doing a fitness athlete summit, which we are pumped about. It is going to be myself. It’ll be Mitch Babcock, Zach Long, Kelly Benfield will be there, Guillermo will be there, Jenna will be there, Tucker, all of our lead faculty and TA are gonna be there. We’re gonna try to implement more fitness, but you’ll have tons and tons of opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business, so I would absolutely get onto that course. It is filling up super fast, people are excited about it. Mitch’s Gym, CrossFit Fitness is an amazing place to be. It’ll be a great time, so if you’re looking for anything this summer to get into, I would say don’t miss your opportunity there. Have a great weekend, we’ll talk to you later.

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