(Last Updated on May 11, 2024 by Henry)

How to Use Hand Grippers –

New to Grippers? Start Here

  1. Hand Grippers – What are They & How to Use Them – What are they, their purpose & how do they work
  2. How to choose the best Hand Grippers for you – How many hand grippers to get & what type
  3. Adding Variety/ Choosing different styles of Hand Grippers – How to choose equipment for different tasks
  4. Getting Started & Training Routines for Hand Grippers – Training mentality, crush grip training ABC
Types of Grip Strength: There are 4 major hand specific movements – Crushing, Pinching, Supporting & Extending

The Crushing Grip is closing your fingers against a resistance

Whether it’s a stronger handshake you’re looking for, or better endurance & ability to lift bigger weights, training with hand grippers is the fastest route to improve your crushing grip. Crushing can be defined as the action of closing the fingers against a resistance.How to Use Hand Grippers

Very similar in nature but often forgotten are clamping as wrapping the fingers around an object & squeezing it toward the palm, & crimping which is directing force with the fingers toward the callous line.

Working your crushing grip is also one of the primary grip movements that improve your overall forearm resilience & is important in any contact sport.

Benefit from it, to build an even more competitive edge for yourself, or simply have nutcracker skills, crush a can of soda, or rip a deck of cards for fun.

Hand Grippers – What Are They & How to Use Them?

Crush It

What are Hand Grippers?

Hand Grippers, hand grips, OR simply grippers are primarily used to test & increase the strength of your hands – More specifically, these are specialty tools designed to train & improve your crushing grip strength.

The prime movers for hand grippers are the four fingers, rather than the thumb. Using hand grippers has become a worldwide standard to build grip strength & they’ve already been used to do so for decades.

There are dozens of different brands out there, but the common features of standard hand grippers remain the same – They typically use a torsion spring that is fitted with two handles.

Grippers’ exact elements & dimensions vary, as well as the materials that are being used to build them – Hand gripper springs are made from different types of steel – Their handles are usually made from plastic, wood, aluminum, or steel.

Did you know? Armwrestlers were among the first to establish specific training protocols using grippers, as part of a larger strength training program for their sport.

How to Use a Hand Gripper?
2 So, you got a hand gripper.. How to use a hand gripper? Using a hand gripper involves two muscle movements – Concentric contraction & eccentric contraction – In simple words: You hold the gripper in one hand & squeeze the two handles together until they touch.

After the handles touch, you release them back to the starting position & repeat the movement – Positive & negative movement.

The third muscle movement you can perform with a hand gripper is isometric contraction – In other words: You’re going to squeeze handles together & hold them together as long as you can.

These are only the basic movements. There are many variations in how you can perform partial movements OR negatives. If the strength level of the gripper is beyond the user’s own abilities, the user can apply maximum force & move the gripper’s handles as far as possible, making it a partial movement.

Another way to set up a partial movement involves using two hands – Squeezing handles almost together, releasing one hand & then using your other hand to apply force to make the handles of the gripper touch each other.

The same method can be used if you want to perform negative movement,  you start resisting as the gripper opens up slowly.

Chance to Become Certified
3 Remember, your efforts won’t go unnoticed – Since 1991, IronMind began certifying athletes who could close its toughest hand grippers under official conditions.

In 2011, IronMind also began certifying women. IronMind maintains a list of those men & women with world-class grip, who have certified on:

  1. Captains of Crush No.3
  2. Captains of Crush No.3.5
  3. Captains of Crush No.4
  1. Captains of Crush No.2
  2. Captains of Crush No.2.5
  3. Captains of Crush No.3

In fact, there are only 5 guys in history who have managed to close Captains of Crush No.4 gripper & nobody til this very day has closed Gillingham Level 10 gripper.

The hand grippers’ difficulty levels/range of strengths vary greatly – There are grippers suitable for everyone from rank beginners to World’s Strongest Man contest winners.

What Grippers Should You Get & How Many

What are the Best Hand Grippers You Can Choose?

The Best Default Choice

Still, after decades, there’s one ultimate default choice, Captains of Crush. Hand grippers will never go out of style no matter who you are. This is the pick you can never go wrong with.

There are tons of excellent grippers out there, with different difficulty levels ranging from Rank Amateur to World Strongest Man.

Always Aim for a High-Quality Gripper

  1. Strong spring – Cheap plastic gripper springs tend to snap much more easily. You don’t exactly want it to break in the middle of your exercise & even worse, injure you. That’s the #1 reason to take a bit more expensive route – You want high-quality products to invest smarter & also avoid injuries caused by cheap/faulty devices as much as possible.

  2. Consistency – You’re buying a hard-to-close, let’s say cheap 100-lb plastic gripper, & a couple of months later you’re closing it for reps like a master like it’s nothing. It makes you feel like you’re a tough guy & you’ve made a hell of a progress – Wrong, the reality is this gripper spring likely just wore out. To monitor your progress the solution is to use a quality gripper.

Captains of Crush - The Gold Standard of Hand Grippers

Different Types of Hand Grippers
1The safest road to go with is Captains of Crush grippers – These are deemed as the Gold Standard of hand grippers.

There are eleven (11) different strength levels to choose from.
It’s consistent across the board, well made & will probably last you a lifetime.

Also, other Ironmind-made hand grippers are excellent  – Whether they’re CoC Left-Turn hand grippers, IMTUG utility grippers, OR smooth Zenith grippers. They’re perfect complements to Standard CoC grippers.

CoC Left-Turn Hand Gripper

Zenith Hand Gripper - The comfortable crush by IronMind


CoC Left-Turn Grips:
This is a lefty Gripper – Essentially the mirror image of your regular Captains of Crush line of hand grippers.

Feel free to grab a Left-Turn gripper & train your grip exactly the same way as you would with a regular CoC gripper.

Grippers can feel slightly different in your right & left hand. There are differences in hand strength, hand dominance & also hand position…

..plus there are differences in the geometry of wind springs.

IronMind noticed it & they specifically designed Left-Turn Hand Grippers, so you can successfully train grip with both of your hands.


IMTUG Utility Grips:
Excellent utility gripper to train your thumbs – Unlike conventional hand grippers you can focus on your thumbs as well.

This a very interesting hand gripper that brings you new training possibilities.

Use this gripper to tune up your thumbs, index & middle fingers, pinkie & ring finger. Since there are so many different approaches to this style of gripper it’s great for prehab & injury prevention.

Great tool, to improve your muscle balance OR compensate muscle overuse – It’s perfect for standalone training OR to be used in conjunction with other hand grippers.


Zenith Hand Grips:
Smooth gripper with ergonomic handles – Great way to give your sore, beat hands rest & a chance for a speedy recovery.

Excellent tools to be your warm-up OR cool-down gripper – You can choose it for conditioning work to complement your 1 rep max

It’s a comfortable crush that is suitable if you’re recovering from injury, you have chronic hand pain, weak hands OR you’re looking for a light workout with increased mobility.

You’ll love it from the first squeeze. Recommended for seniors & youth, great complement to other IronMind hand grippers.

What if Hand Gripper is too Easy/too Hard for you?
  1. What about those grippers that already are, or quickly become, too easy for me?
  2. What about grippers that are too difficult for me & I can’t close yet?


The easiest grippers, no matter how strong you are, are excellent for warming up. In fact, they’ll be an essential part of your every workout session. In other words, they’ll never go out of style & will always have an important place in your crushing-grip toolbox.

Now, the other side of the medallion, grippers that are too difficult to close – When you finally can close your goal-gripper, you’re going to move to the next level & need the harder one, for negative repetitions, after the one you want to close. This method helps you to progress significantly, you won’t get stuck at one level.

It seems to be more expensive to buy a set of hand grippers at the same time, but consider it as a long-term investment, you’ll save a lot on shipping. By default, it’s recommended that you focus on the IronMind CoC line of hand grippers because of their flawless consistency.

So, it’s also extra important to include quality assurance. Why? Because a lot of cheap grippers are weakening with use – they get narrower & easier as they are used. It’s very common & it’s a reflection of an under-designed gripper. Captains of Crush Hand Grippers are made to endure.

Another important note is to eliminate guesswork from your training routine – Many cheap grippers may have false poundage ratings. For example, a cheap gripper made in China can state 200 lbs on it but you’ll find crushing a Captains of Crush, The Trainer (100 lbs) much harder. Because the attached numbers on cheap grippers sound convenient, but abuse & mislead you, without really being tied to any specific test or measure.

This is one of the most pertinent reasons to recommend a set of Captains of Crush Hand Grippers to recreational & professional athletes alike. You can rely on high-quality grippers – you won’t break them & they won’t break you. Be on point with your crush-grip training, monitor your progress precisely, and eliminate guesswork.


What are the Different Strength Levels of Hand Grippers?
3Most strength athletes will dominate the Captains of Crush No 1 with very little training. The hand strength of the average man is around 115 pounds.

For the majority, it would be great to have access to the following first 6 Captains of Crush Hand Grippers out of 11. In case, you’re a beginner a senior, a youth, or a woman, aim for the first 3 CoC Hand Grippers, these are great for you:

  • The Guide (60 lbs)
  • The Sport (80 lbs)
  • The Trainer (100 lbs)
  • The Point Five (120lbs)
  • The No 1 (140 lbs)
  • The No 1.5 (167.5 lbs)

This means a complete set for you to get your desired results – You’ll have warm-up, rehab & active rest grippers as well as your core workout grippers, & 1-2 challenge/goal grippers.

If you’re already familiar with hand grippers & have been seriously working on your crushing grip, you can add 2 more CoC Hand Grippers to challenge yourself:

  • The No 2 (195 lbs)
  • The No 2.5 (237.5 lbs)

Working on Captains of Crush, The No. 2 & being able to close one can be considered a great achievement. The next step, Captains of Crush, The No. 2.5 is the third of the bridge-grippers, a final stepping stone to enter the grip elite world.

Everything beyond this is meant & built for true grip-monsters, who are deadly serious about improving their grip & unlocking the next set of feats of strength.

Only those who are truly dedicated to progress “beyond normal” should think about getting the following pieces of equipment:

  • The No 3 (280 lbs)
  • The No 3.5 (322.5 lbs)
  • The No 4 (365 lbs)
How Many Hand Grippers Should You Get?
4Ideally, you want to buy all the grippers at the same time. Having access to a set of hand grippers is useful because we all aim for maximum benefits & it has to be worth it in the long run.

There are many great options to choose from – If you’re serious about grip training, you want to get multiple grippers – For warm-ups, regular training & some for challenge.

To be able to close the next level up, most people have to be able to do about 20 complete repetitions on the current gripper they’re working with.

Generally, it’s recommended that once you can close a gripper for 12 complete repetitions, it’s great progression & it’s time for you to start working on the next level.

Joe Kinney, the first man to close The No. 4 Captains of Crush Hand Gripper (365 lbs), would tell you to not even wait this long – he feels that doing negatives on a gripper one level above what you can fully close is the best way to make progress.

This is also why, ideally, it’s recommended to have access to a set of hand grippers instead of one or two. As an intermediate or advanced grip trainee, if you want to keep improving, you might want to train with several levels of Captains of Crush Hand Grippers at one time.

Warm-up sets – Use an easier Captains of Crush Hand Gripper.

Serious work sets – Use medium/difficult, somewhat challenging Captains of Crush Hand Gripper. Set a goal for training to close this gripper, with handles touching, 5 to 10 times.

Challenge sets – Use a very difficult, Captains of Crush Hand Gripper that you can’t close – this is your challenge CoC Hand Gripper & use it for doing partials, holds & negative repetitions.

What should you do when you get stuck at one level? Including your basic workout routine, always keep developing ways to surprise your muscles with something new. This does not only apply to the moments where you find yourself stuck at a plateau, but this is something you should do all the time – being more versatile, and trying to involve the whole package.

In other words, the key principle is to add new twists – start out with simple things such as trying to vary your sets, reps & number of training sessions per week. If you’ve only been doing positive movements, try negatives as well.

Also, add holds & partials if you’ve only been doing full-range movements. Try to use different hand grippers such as IMTUG to tune up your fingers one or two at a time.

To help you to graduate full levels of Captains of Crush grippers, feel free to take advantage of the bridge-grippers such as The Point Five, The No 1.5, The No 2.5 & The No 3.5. These are specifically created as stepping stones & they might be just what you need.

If your workouts get too tough & you feel that the palms of your hands need a bit more rest, you could also add in Zenith Hand Grippers by IronMind.

Zenith Grippers are essentially the same as CoC Hand Grippers to improve your crush-grip, but with silk-smooth handles, the Comfortable Crush, to help your hands to recover at the same time.

What Training Routines Can You Use For Hand Grippers?

Gripper Training Routines for Getting Started

Training MentalityCrush-Grip Training ABC#1: Basic Routine#2: Advanced Routine

It’s recommended that you center your grip training on a Captains of Crush Hand Gripper so that you can fully close 5 to 10 x.

As beginners emphasize the phrase “fully close” – it’s very important both physically & psychologically.

1 Psychologically, you will gain a lot of self-confidence as you keep grinding hand gripper handles together & it gives you a sense of victory every time by do so.Captains of Crush

Never underestimate mental fortitude, it’s as important if not even more important than being able to lift the actual weight itself.

It builds an incredible advantage for you, makes you more authoritative, as every time you’ll approach to competitions & everyday tasks with winning attitude.

2 Physically, full range motion is more universal & has better transfers to more uses.

This is important to develop your overall crush-grip strength, which applies to a much wider range of tasks & everyday real-world activities.

Initially, it’s more beneficial for you to focus on overall strength development rather than becoming a specialist in moving hand grippers over a specific range.

  • Always do a warm-up
  • Perform full-range movement
  • Put more focus on intensity & less on volume
  • Train progressively
  • Recover between workouts
1 Always do a warm-up – First & foremost, this is crucial to reduce the risk of injuries as much as possible. If you skip a workout after warm-up, it’s not the end of the world, you’ll simply miss out on a chance to get stronger on that particular workout session. If you skip the warm-up, you might end up getting injured & it’s game over for you.
2 Perform full-range movement – Focusing on full-range quality repetitions is excellent for overall development to improve both, your physical & psychological attributes. Every time you close a gripper it should feel like a victory.
3 Put more focus on intensity & less on volume – Do fewer sets & less repetition but with more weight & shorter pauses between sets – Hand muscles are one of the smallest in the body, you don’t want to get inflammation from overtraining. Approach with intensity to make it effective.
4 Train progressively – Ideally, you want to get the whole set of grippers to work your crush grip. So, instead of using one gripper only, try using a set – In this way, you can go from light to heavy.
5 Recover between workouts – If you train..train, if you rest..rest. Don’t do something in between. Recuperate, and let your muscles rebuild. This is how you get stronger & you won’t get burnt-out, out at the same time.

Basic training routine for Captains of Crush Hand Grippers.
Recommended: 15 minutes, 2-3 times per week:

Training routine #1
(Hardest, for main workout) :

1 set x 10 reps – Warm-up gripper
1 set x 10 reps – Warm-up gripper
1 set x 10 reps – Medium gripper
1 set x 3 reps – Very hard gripper
1 set x 3 reps – Very hard gripper
1 set x 3 reps – Very hard gripper

Training routine #2
(Easier, can be used for deload) :

1 set x 10 reps – The easiest gripper
1 set x 10 reps – Warm-up gripper
1 set x 10 reps – Medium gripper
1 set x 5 reps – Hard gripper
1 set x 5 reps – Hard gripper
1 set x 5 reps – Hard gripper

IronMind Grippers

Advanced training routine
Recommended: 2-3 times per week

Add IMTUG Utility gripper to your basic Captains of Crush routine:

1 set x 10 reps – Warm-up CoC gripper
1 set x 10 reps – Medium CoC gripper
1 set x 6 reps – Hard CoC gripper
1 set x 6 reps – Hard CoC gripper
1 set x 6 reps – Hard CoC gripper

1 set x 5 reps – Medium IMTUG gripper – Ring finger & pinkie
1 set x 5 reps – Tougher IMTUG gripper – Index & middle finger

Recovery between workouts
Two, three or four days per week (off-days)
This is for speedy recovery & active rest:
2 sets x 20 reps – light to moderate – IronMind Egg
2 sets x 20 reps – light to moderate – Extend-Your-Hand Bands

Thanks for Stopping By

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2 thoughts on “How To Use Hand Grippers – The Best Default Approach

  1. Hey Henry.
    This is a wonderful article you got here because I’ve always been shopping around for the best hand gripper that can improve my grip since I just started getting into powerlifting and also indoor rock climbing.

    You provided all the necessary details and made comparisons which just makes us visitors of yours job a lot easier in choosing the right hand gripper to pick.

    Thinking of buying one now because of you.

    1. Awesome, this will get you a good head start.

      Grippers get your crush grip up & in most cases it’s enough to get solid base.

      For climbing & powerlifting you likely want to do some static hold sessions as well.

      For that finger loops can help you progress once you get more committed.

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