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Aaron Corcorran Is In The Grip Well!

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Thanks to Aaron for doing this.

Remember, questions only and he will answer only.

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To what do you attribute your freakish hub-lifting ability?

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Since you started grip training, are there lifts where it's easy for you to make gains? On the flip side, what are the lifts that are hardest for you to see gains?

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To what do you attribute your freakish hub-lifting ability?

Good question. It wasn't always such a strong lift for me. When I first started I think it was more than a year before I finally got a successful lift with a 45# plate. I realized that my pinching was a major weak point when I started doing contests and put quite a bit of time training it. I believe there was likely some good carry over from the 2HP work, etc. I had put in by the time I finally did get a full lift on a 45# plate. I saw my biggest gains beyond that when I was doing very heavy 2HP work and began doing dynamic hub work like the hand to hand transfers and flip catches. A few months of working those was like gold for my strength levels on the lift.

- Aaron

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Since you started grip training, are there lifts where it's easy for you to make gains? On the flip side, what are the lifts that are hardest for you to see gains?

When I first started grip training nearly everything I tried was easy to make gains on. Easy is a relative term though because I always put in alot of good hard work. It's not that way anymore. Pretty much any increases the last few years have required multi-month or longer focused training plans to achieve even modest increases for me. However the toughest contest lifts for me to make increases on has primarily been the thick bar ones like Axle or Rolling Thunder. My Axle lifts are generally back limited due to old injuries. My back is pretty fragile most of the time anymore and training the DL in general seems to flare up pretty aweful sciatica unless I'm really careful. I only have an average wrap on the bar despite my 8" hand length so there is a good 1" space between thumb tip and middle finger tip when holding a Rolling Thunder or Inch DB which make the over 2" bar lifts interesting as well.

- Aaron

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What is your hammer training like and what are some of your goals for hammers? Thanks Aaron.

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What is your hammer training like and what are some of your goals for hammers? Thanks Aaron.

I mostly just do hammer work with the goal of bulletproofing my wrists and to reduce or eliminate the occurrence of Tennis elbow. Occasionally I will test max levels but it is pretty rare. The primary work I do when I am training Hammer stuff is seated dynamic front levers where I rest the lower arm just above the knee and lever down and back up for reps. I try to do a double progression with higher reps, such as 15-20+ rep range maybe one or 2 sets at end of regular workout. Then once I hit my goal reps move out the hold an inch or increase the weight on the hammer head by microloading 2 - 2.5%. Occasionally I'll do twists or levers to the head too. To test strength levels for the front lever I usually do a front Hammer DL. It's a static hold and occasionally used in contest or Medley's. I think my best is in the 21" range on a 12# hammer like that. A longterm goal would be to be able to front DL a 12# hammer holding at the end, about 30 or 31", or to get a set on Dynamic Seated front Hammer Levers of 20x 8# at full handle hold.

- Aaron

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Are there any Grip Sport lifts you wish were eliminated from competition?

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Are there any Grip Sport lifts you wish were eliminated from competition?

Axle DL, for personal reasons mentioned above. It is a good test of strength but the bane of my existence due to my own back issues when training for a comp. Also I find the 2" Saxon bar Pinch lift a lot less finicky than the Euro pinch as a test of pinch strength. But no one has contested it yet in a comp yet. I'm considering running both events for fun at the next AZ Cactus Grip comp.

- Aaron

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You've made comments about training volume and frequency in the past. I was wondering id you've got a general philosophy on how much a certain exercise/lift should be done in a single session and also training to failure vs leaving a couple in the tank. The next part to this question would be on the training frequency; do you wait until feeling 100% again, progressively overtrain and super compensate, hit the same exercise/motion every 7 days, etc.

Thanks Aaron.

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You've made comments about training volume and frequency in the past. I was wondering id you've got a general philosophy on how much a certain exercise/lift should be done in a single session and also training to failure vs leaving a couple in the tank. The next part to this question would be on the training frequency; do you wait until feeling 100% again, progressively overtrain and super compensate, hit the same exercise/motion every 7 days, etc.

Thanks Aaron.

Wow, more good tough questions. Not enough time to answer this one at the moment but I will see what I can do to answer as soon as I can. Short answer, I have used all of those methods successfully with different grip events. I think it more depends on the overall picture though whether a particular method will work for an individual at a point in time. They all require the individual to balance overall workload with recovery to be truly effective. Some methods are tougher to achieve that balance than others depending on what the rest of your training program looks like. Without appropriate recovery there is no opportunity to supercompensate in my opinion. Like I said I will try to answer more fully when I can.

- Aaron

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Don't know how many people are aware of how beastly Aaron was with PL lifts. What kind of programs did you use to reach some of the numbers you hit in the past - particularly DL and Bench?

How much do you think your prior athletic achievements set you up for grip greatness (i.e. PL'ing, bending, throwing, etc.)?

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Aaron, when you're trying to increase your pinch at contest width, what has more carryover; thin or wide pinch? Also, what value do you place on dynamic pinch work when you are working toward pinch goals. Thanks in advance.

Edited by jvance
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You're pretty legendary in both the grip and bending worlds. Thank you for taking the time to answer questions.

1. Do you have a particular bend and a particular grip feat that you are most proud of?

2. Do you have any comments as to why benders mostly abandon steelbending for grip, mostly never to return. Do you yourself still bend at all?

3. Might you have some tips in regards to technique (thumbless, %'s) to improve RT.

4. Can you give a general comment on improving with grippers, especially in the early stages. They seem to work differently than most other tools I have encountered. i.e., more reps with a lighter grip don't seem to equal a heavier close at all. This seems to be contrary to most other implements. Chez counseled drop sets, Nate, heavier forced closes - though Adam warned about these, yet also says that working with a lighter gripper won't equal a heavier close.

5. How frequently would you train axle as opposed to regular DL'ing and expect to make progress.

Thanks,

Mike

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Hi Aaron. Thanks for taking a turn in the grip well.

When one goes through the FBBC Certs or Grip Sport Records...your name pops up time and time again.

Yet...many of us who are relatively new to the Gripboard know very little about you and history.

1. Could you share your story of how you came to train grip and bending?

2. What long term personal goals do you have with Grip?

3. What do you hope to see and/or facilitate in the future of Gripsport?

Thanks - Nate

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Thanks Aaron for taking the time to do this.

Like Nate stated previous, a lot of us newbies don't know all your accomplishments so a little history would be greatly appreciated ..

2 Questions =

I hear wide pinching (blobs/blocks etc) is the way to go for overall pinch strength.

1.)Is it wise to pinch at ones widest grip just shy of over extending the thumb or never go to near max reach.

If it is wise to do so,should you go heavy as you can or stay modest??

2.)With hubbing, I can't figure out how to place my thumb for proper lifting.

Talking about with the IM hub. Right now anything other than thumb straight just ain't working.

Thanks .

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Hey Aaron, Ive been dealing with golfers elbow for quite a while any advise on how to train through this?

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You've made comments about training volume and frequency in the past. I was wondering id you've got a general philosophy on how much a certain exercise/lift should be done in a single session and also training to failure vs leaving a couple in the tank. The next part to this question would be on the training frequency; do you wait until feeling 100% again, progressively overtrain and super compensate, hit the same exercise/motion every 7 days, etc.

Thanks Aaron.

Wow, more good tough questions. Not enough time to answer this one at the moment but I will see what I can do to answer as soon as I can. Short answer, I have used all of those methods successfully with different grip events. I think it more depends on the overall picture though whether a particular method will work for an individual at a point in time. They all require the individual to balance overall workload with recovery to be truly effective. Some methods are tougher to achieve that balance than others depending on what the rest of your training program looks like. Without appropriate recovery there is no opportunity to supercompensate in my opinion. Like I said I will try to answer more fully when I can.

- Aaron

I don't know that I have one overriding general philosophy on this. I try to use the best training protocols I can to fit the situation. For example, the first few years I was grip training, the loads were much lower than now and I had a decent amount of time to fit in training when I wanted. Multiple days a week, 2hrs+ open at a time if I so chose. Plus I was younger and still had pretty decent recovery time. I could use just about any of the methodologies you listed up to 7days a week with appropriate exercise cycling and still make progress. These days the loads are higher, the sleep is less with a 3yr old and 2.5 month old, very little training time in general, and my recovery is much worse. Because of those things I have to have a lot more recovery time to coincide with greatly reduced volume. That and focus more on one or 2 exercises at a time and do minimal maintenance on other contest related lifts. Each different methodology has trade offs and ideal timing. When I could train 5-7 days a week, leaving a couple in the tank was doable and with decent frequency. If I am only able to train once or twice every 7 days on everything it makes a lot more sense to use something like HIT programming or go to failure on a small number of key lifts and track progressions week to week.

Also everyone is different but in my opinion some events seem to progress better with certain types of programming. For example, every time I have tried wave periodization with 2hp I have gotten nothing out of it but wasted time, but that might work for Axle DL for some folks. Lots of light reps gets you no where with grippers but it can be great for Rolling Thunder. Whereas things like heavy singles, doubles, Overcrushes, Negatives, etc can be great for grippers when combined with enough rest, and I have gotten very little progress on Rolling thunder or Pinch with singles or doubles. But that is me anyway. Everyone is different and I feel each person would do best to try different methods and see what works best for them. I realize I may not have really answered your questions but one could write an entire book on the positives and negatives of each protocol with respect to Grip sport events training.

- Aaron

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Aaron, when you're trying to increase your pinch at contest width, what has more carryover; thin or wide pinch? Also, what value do you place on dynamic pinch work when you are working toward pinch goals. Thanks in advance.

Jvance, when I am trying to increase my pinch for a contest I specialize in the exact width I am looking to use in the contest. I honestly don't know which would have more carryover to a Euro pinch, thin or wide. I guess it depends on what width you normally pinch at and what your weakness is. That and how exactly you grip the implement. Thin pinch hits the thumb differently than thick, and thick also can hit the palm pad.

In the beginning I did a decent amount of dynamic pinch. With thinks like the Ironmind TTK, or wood clamps. These days I do very little, I focus on the joint angles that are closest to the positioning I need to be strong in. About the closest I come to dynamic pinch would be things like the hub flip catches, and hand to hand transfer work I occasionally do, as well the occasional Cleans and Snatches I do with my 2" Saxon Bar. Both of those things I feel are invaluable due to the explosive clamping I have to do with them. Not quite the same, but there you go.

- Aaron

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Don't know how many people are aware of how beastly Aaron was with PL lifts. What kind of programs did you use to reach some of the numbers you hit in the past - particularly DL and Bench?

How much do you think your prior athletic achievements set you up for grip greatness (i.e. PL'ing, bending, throwing, etc.)?

Martin, thanks for the question. I was decently strong for a guy who didn't specialize in the Power lifts. But that was all pre-back injury. These days I don't even like to mention the numbers because most people just think I'm full of it the numbers are so high. That and I never competed in a big time PL meet so they couldn't possibly have happened. That being said a little background, I tried a lot of programs over the years when I was still young and strong and mostly unbroken. I lifted weights pretty consistently and heavy from 8th grade through to a year out of college before my back injury in 1997. I was always strong and worked hard to be as strong as possible from the very beginning, holding several school records in lifts and throws at my High School. I went to college on a Track scholarship for Discus as well and ended up being an even better Hammer thrower due to my build, speed, and explosive power. When I finished HS my bests were 405 bench at 225, 500+ squat, 385# Clean, all my Junior year (didn't lift my Sr year, mostly plyo's and technique work as well as working swing shift since I was not living at home anymore). My bests in college were mid 700's Squat, 465 Clean and Jerk and honestly most of the rest of the lifts lost to time. That was at around 265# throwing weight. Best program I ever did, I came up with just out of college and did for about 5 months. That one added more strength and muscle at a fairly regular rate until my back injury. It involved doing a full body workout once every 7-10 days. Core lifts, one heavy set of 6-10 reps and adding a rep every workout until hitting top end then upping weight. Exercises changed every 6 weeks and workouts took about 25-30 min. At the end I was around 308 BW and leaner than when I was throwing.

Between that point and the point at which I started Grip training was about 9 years of no training at all. So I don't know how much that original training helped. I was then and still am a shadow of what I was strength wise thanks to various strategically located injuries through the years. I think at my peak I could curl more than I can currently squat if that is any indication. This was a main reason why grip worked well for me overall though as I am still able to compete at a fairly high level despite these issues.

- Aaron

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Don't know how many people are aware of how beastly Aaron was with PL lifts. What kind of programs did you use to reach some of the numbers you hit in the past - particularly DL and Bench?

How much do you think your prior athletic achievements set you up for grip greatness (i.e. PL'ing, bending, throwing, etc.)?

Martin, thanks for the question. I was decently strong for a guy who didn't specialize in the Power lifts. But that was all pre-back injury. These days I don't even like to mention the numbers because most people just think I'm full of it the numbers are so high. That and I never competed in a big time PL meet so they couldn't possibly have happened. That being said a little background, I tried a lot of programs over the years when I was still young and strong and mostly unbroken. I lifted weights pretty consistently and heavy from 8th grade through to a year out of college before my back injury in 1997. I was always strong and worked hard to be as strong as possible from the very beginning, holding several school records in lifts and throws at my High School. I went to college on a Track scholarship for Discus as well and ended up being an even better Hammer thrower due to my build, speed, and explosive power. When I finished HS my bests were 405 bench at 225, 500+ squat, 385# Clean, all my Junior year (didn't lift my Sr year, mostly plyo's and technique work as well as working swing shift since I was not living at home anymore). My bests in college were mid 700's Squat, 465 Clean and Jerk and honestly most of the rest of the lifts lost to time. That was at around 265# throwing weight. Best program I ever did, I came up with just out of college and did for about 5 months. That one added more strength and muscle at a fairly regular rate until my back injury. It involved doing a full body workout once every 7-10 days. Core lifts, one heavy set of 6-10 reps and adding a rep every workout until hitting top end then upping weight. Exercises changed every 6 weeks and workouts took about 25-30 min. At the end I was around 308 BW and leaner than when I was throwing.

Between that point and the point at which I started Grip training was about 9 years of no training at all. So I don't know how much that original training helped. I was then and still am a shadow of what I was strength wise thanks to various strategically located injuries through the years. I think at my peak I could curl more than I can currently squat if that is any indication. This was a main reason why grip worked well for me overall though as I am still able to compete at a fairly high level despite these issues.

- Aaron

I realized that I didn't really answer your question about programs very well. I honestly can't remember ever Deadlifting until after college. Had a pretty steady diet of heavy Oly lifts like cleans an snatches though from 14 yrs old freshman -> to end of college. Started doing DL's just out of College and started with pretty high numbers due to all the heavy Oly lifting and throwing over the years. Since I started doing grip I've prolly had the best success with Wendlers 5-3-1 on DL with some additional special programming for the hands to make the Axle go up. For Bench, I primarily used percentage based programs in HS, Benched very little in College because it had negative effects on the Hammer throwing and used the above mentioned stuff post college. Since I started doing grip stuff a few years ago I have only occasionally got on Bench kicks where I have worked it for a few months before stopping again. I had success with 5-3-1 and a couple other methods but always pretty simple basic programming. Best Bench since back injury was 375# in a push pull meet I did early last year with about 4 months of training. I forget the exact program I used for that one but I do remember I was supersetting my Bench work sets with Heavy Pinch sets and that seemed to work well.

- Aaron

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Holy crap! 375# after only 4 months of training?!?!? That's amazing stuff right there!

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You're pretty legendary in both the grip and bending worlds. Thank you for taking the time to answer questions.

1. Do you have a particular bend and a particular grip feat that you are most proud of?

2. Do you have any comments as to why benders mostly abandon steelbending for grip, mostly never to return. Do you yourself still bend at all?

3. Might you have some tips in regards to technique (thumbless, %'s) to improve RT.

4. Can you give a general comment on improving with grippers, especially in the early stages. They seem to work differently than most other tools I have encountered. i.e., more reps with a lighter grip don't seem to equal a heavier close at all. This seems to be contrary to most other implements. Chez counseled drop sets, Nate, heavier forced closes - though Adam warned about these, yet also says that working with a lighter gripper won't equal a heavier close.

5. How frequently would you train axle as opposed to regular DL'ing and expect to make progress.

Thanks,

Mike

Thanks for the questions Mike,

1. Do you have a particular bend and a particular grip feat that you are most proud of?

For bending I think I am most proud of these bends: First and only ones ever done in competition - 7x5/16 G8 bolt, 5.5" x 5/16 G5 bolt ( 5 1/2" Edgin ), and 6" x 5/16 FBBC Square. The 2 bolts were done in the same comp with the 5.5" edgin being the warmup for the Big G8 bolt, and the Square being possibly the toughest bend I ever completed and definately toughest ever done in a comp. Also up there would be doing a Bastard thru Mag bastard all in 5 minutes total time after one of the comps. That is 7x 5/16, 6.5x5/16, 6x5/16, 5.5x5/16 and 5x5/16 all back to back in 5 minutes.

For grip feats, closing a #4 in a contest is pretty up there for me.

2. Do you have any comments as to why benders mostly abandon steelbending for grip, mostly never to return. Do you yourself still bend at all?

I cannot really speak for anyone else, but the main reasons I stopped bending were it was too hard for me to recover from tough bends and still make good progress in contest specific event work. That and it fell out of favor as a contest event. I enjoyed bending while I was doing it but I enjoy winning even more so I had to focus my effort where it was most needed. I don't really bend anymore. Maybe the occasional 60d or Red nail for people but that is about it. That and maybe the occasional Horse shoe or spike for kids.

3. Might you have some tips in regards to technique (thumbless, %'s) to improve RT.

The best way that I know to improve the RT is to use one or 2 high rep sets a couple times a week and progressively add weight. So like 15-20 reps with around 70% of max if I remember right.

4. Can you give a general comment on improving with grippers, especially in the early stages. They seem to work differently than most other tools I have encountered. i.e., more reps with a lighter grip don't seem to equal a heavier close at all. This seems to be contrary to most other implements. Chez counseled drop sets, Nate, heavier forced closes - though Adam warned about these, yet also says that working with a lighter gripper won't equal a heavier close.

I agree, they can work very differently for most people and people are enough different that what works for one may not work for another. I've tried more methods for improving grippers than I could count or even likely remember over the last 7 years. Many of them wild goose chases that gave no increases or lost progress. I think the main reasons they are a bit different are:

1) Amount of time to do a rep on a gripper is not equal to time on say Bench or Squat. As in time under tension is very much shorter so standard programming methods just won't work without adjustment for this.

2) The hands are wired differently than the rest of the body. A great portion of your brain and nervous system is devoted to the Hands so when you fatigue the CNS with Heavy high tension gripper work you really can see a big dip. Conversely they are really sensitive to nervous system state of fatigue, Overtraining, etc. This is the main reason grippers are usually done first in a comp, when you do something else like Axle DL that hits the CNS hard you will see a huge drop or fluctuation in grippers.

When you take these factors into account it may be easier to come up with a simple workable program. The best thing you can do for your gripper work is try to ensure consistent CNS activation levels when you train them. Do a good full body warm up and Squat, then do your gripper sets between your Squat sets. Low or High reps for squats, both are good. For the actual gripper work there is a wide variety of things that will work but the big keys are consistent CNS activation and progressive increases without overtraining. You can train very hard with minimal volume or very often with more volume but very few can do both. A couple of options for you would be do grippers a couple times a week, maybe work up to 5-6 sets of singles or doubles and progressively try to add reps or sets until you can get to the next gripper. 90-95% range. The other one I would recommend would be a GTG method (Greasing the Groove). This would be a lower gripper for you, like 80% range and do a speed single or double a few times a day. I often use this method during peaking phases and used it during the peaking for the last comp where I closed a #4 starting 2 weeks out and tapering the last few days to once or twice a day. Really helps peak up the neural efficiency levels.

Another piece of advice is don't try to get all of the work for your grippers in with just grippers. Things like Double overhand DL's on an Oly bar as a finisher are gold for grippers. Hits the closed range joint angles nicely.

5. How frequently would you train axle as opposed to regular DL'ing and expect to make progress.

Depends on whether your weakpoint is Back or hands. If it is back then once or twice a week. Hands could be trained anywhere from once to many times a week depending on the method. My best ever progress on the axle, what I used to finally get a 400# comp pull a few years ago. I was doing thick bar related hand work at least 6 days a week. Not Axle DL's 6 days a week but hitting the hands with thick bar type work that often. It all depends on the weakpoint, what else you are focusing on and total training programming though.

- Aaron

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Hi Aaron. Thanks for taking a turn in the grip well.

When one goes through the FBBC Certs or Grip Sport Records...your name pops up time and time again.

Yet...many of us who are relatively new to the Gripboard know very little about you and history.

1. Could you share your story of how you came to train grip and bending?

2. What long term personal goals do you have with Grip?

3. What do you hope to see and/or facilitate in the future of Gripsport?

Thanks - Nate

Thanks for the questions Nate,

1. Could you share your story of how you came to train grip and bending?

After my back injury in 1997 (Majorly ruptured my L5/S1 Disc helping someone move. Freak accident.) I didn't train at all for a number of years. In fact I had just started lifting again in a minor capacity a couple months before I found grip in 2006. Totally stumbled upon grip training like most I would assume. In my case one of my co-workers came up to me one day and said hey try this. Well this was a powerball (hand gyro) and apparently they had a contest going at work to see who could get the highest score (RPM) on one. I played with it for a couple days and managed to take the lead. In the course of training with it I noticed it was making my forearms and hands sore and feeling stronger. It totally reminded me of how I felt strength wise when I was throwing compared to the now untrained state. So I googled hand strength or something similar. I found the CoC grippers and ordered a #T, #1 and #2 on Amazon. Next I found the Gripboard and started reading up while waiting for my grippers to come. When the grippers came I was able to close up through the #2 RH and the Trainer LH and I was hooked. I started training grippers and began the KTA program about a month later. Eventually I tried Bending, and all of the other feats and have been hooked ever since.

2. What long term personal goals do you have with Grip?

I have goals of a 200+ Gripper close in a contest, 260+ 2HP, 300# pinch DL on the 2" Saxon Bar, and another 400#+ Axle pull before I'm too busted up to accomplish it. Also would love to see greater expansion of the sport and do my best to work with anyone interested here in AZ.

3. What do you hope to see and/or facilitate in the future of Gripsport?

Future growth of the sport and standardization of lifts, lists, equipment, etc. That and I would really love to see all of the promoters consistently entering their own scores after the comps into the database after a comp. Boy that would be grand.

- Aaron

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Thanks Aaron for taking the time to do this.

Like Nate stated previous, a lot of us newbies don't know all your accomplishments so a little history would be greatly appreciated ..

2 Questions =

I hear wide pinching (blobs/blocks etc) is the way to go for overall pinch strength.

1.)Is it wise to pinch at ones widest grip just shy of over extending the thumb or never go to near max reach.

If it is wise to do so,should you go heavy as you can or stay modest??

2.)With hubbing, I can't figure out how to place my thumb for proper lifting.

Talking about with the IM hub. Right now anything other than thumb straight just ain't working.

Thanks .

David, thanks for the questions.

1.)Is it wise to pinch at ones widest grip just shy of over extending the thumb or never go to near max reach.

If it is wise to do so,should you go heavy as you can or stay modest??

I think it depends on your goals. If your goal is to lift the Blob for instance then the key is to work on that width, regardless of where it is in relation to max reach. One would just have to work up to it. If your goal is just to be as strong as possible as wide as possible then that is another thing and potentially will cause an injury at some point to the thumb joint. So if your goal is the first one, ie the Blob the best method I know on it is lifts and Negs. Lifts up to failure to lift, then a few reps per workout where you increase the weight a couple pounds beyond the last successful lift and do an assisted lift (use off hand to help get the implement to the top) then hang on as long as possible. I've found that when I can hang on for a count of 5 like that I can usually then lift it next workout and I would increase the weight, do it again. Using that method I was able to work up to Blob + 13# and 2-45's + 20#. I would microload the workouts with magnets to attach the weight or wire to hang the weight off. You can see this style on some of my older youtube vids.

2.)With hubbing, I can't figure out how to place my thumb for proper lifting.

Talking about with the IM hub. Right now anything other than thumb straight just ain't working.

I just use a straight thumb as well. Anything else does not feel comfortable to me. Use whatever position is comfortable, stick with it and just make it stronger with progressive training. I personally like higher reps with the IM hub and microloading around 2% increases a week. but that is me. Last time I was working on it as a goal I was shooting for a single 20rep set and had some nice increases. It's not as fun as heavy singles or say flip catches on a real plate, but they are productive for me anyways.

- Aaron

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