I have no way of contacting Jim at this point, given the time that has elapsed but I am sure he would not mind sharing this given it might help people and provide some history. Jim's high volume workman like "routine" with the thousands of rocks doing it every night helped me think outside the box.
Sent: Saturday, November 13, 1999 5:41 AM
I aspiring to close the #3 one day. Congrats on
closing the #3! I was wondering if you could describe
how you trained to close the #3 and your grip training
in general. I have conversed with a few other COC's
(and others fighting for that last 1/4"!) and am
always looking for new ideas, etc. to further my
Response from Jim Ferry on Nov 14, 1999
Most of my initial grip training consisted of plane old yard work with a twist. Two years ago my wife and I bought a new house, the lot that it was built on had thousands of rocks, I would go out into the yard and fill two big buckets with rocks, every night and farmers walk them to our garbage cans out front. For the larger rocks I would try to pinch grip them, and carry them out front. When I would rake up the rocks I would try to hold the rake with only 1 hand at a time, sort of like you would when doing a sledge hammer lift. I also did quite a bit of hole digging in the rocky soil for our fence holes, and our sprinkler system. I did this type of work along with my regular powerlifting workouts until I had no more yard work left. I believe this work gave me a great foundation for my grip strength as I was able to fully close the #2 for 3 reps with my right hand, the first time I picked it up.
Once the landscaping was done I started looking for other ways to train my grip, I made a thick grip wrist roller with a piece of 2 1/4" pipe, I slip the roller over the end of an Olympic bar set high in a power rack. this set up allows me to use as much weight as I want. I also use an adjustable Olympic dumbbell handle as a thick grip leverage bar. I tried John Brookfield's suggestion of wire cutting but found that when the wire finally gave way it was very sudden, and would jar the tendons in my hands. I continued to do the farmers walk with heavy dumbbells, and I would do holds for time with a barbell. 6 months ago I bought a #1, #2, and #3 grippers, and a snow ball, and added them to my grip training. I kept the grippers at my office, and would train them separately from any other grip work. I would use the snow ball for warm-ups, and some active recovery in-between gripper workouts. At first I would do a lot of reps, I worked up to about 3 sets of 10 fully closed reps with the #2, and then would finish up by doing about 2 sets of 25-30 reps with the #1. I did this 3x a week, and got real good at closing the #2 but made very little progress on the #3 I was stuck 1/4" away from closing it. I finally started making good progress 3 months ago on the #3 when I changed my training. I switched to a quick 5 rep warm up on the #1, and would try to close the #3 for singles until my grip was exhausted. I also would alternate in some holds for time with the #3 trying to close it as far as possible, and holding it for about 30-60 seconds. I started out doing this 2-3x a week, and managed to close the remaining 1/4" in less than 2 months. a friend of mine who was my witness lent me his #4 the day I took the pictures for Ironmind, and I have been doing singles with that for about 1 month, and I have also added 1 handed deadlifts (suit case style), and 1 arm hang snatches with a full sized Olympic bar to my non COC grip training. I really like the 1 arm snatches as they require a lot of balance, and coordination when I use the full sized Olympic bar, and they work all the stabilizers from my hand to shoulder. My grip has continued to improve, and I can almost do 3 full reps with the #3 with my right hand, and I closed it with my left hand for the first time this week. The #4 is another story as I can only get it a little bit past parallel.
I am in the process of rethinking my current training. I think I need to take a break from doing heavy singles for a while, as I am having problems with tendon pain. The tendons in my hands, and wrists, are so sore that I have to ice them daily, and have had to cut down on my grip training.