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Evan Raftopoulos

Thumb Strengthening

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Evan Raftopoulos

Others have been telling me about it and I'm finally convinced that thumb strength is very crucial for closing grippers. I'm actually of the opinion now that it's even more important than 2-5 digit tendon strength. It's important for setting the gripper but also for any part of the range of motion including the final 1-2mm. My problem so far is that I've had hard time focusing on thumb strengthening and I'm now realizing that my thumbs are my weakest link in my grip. For some reason it does not motivate me as much to train them specifically. I have couple pony clamps but I haven't been using them much. Plate pinching sounds like a great exercise but also haven't been doing it. I have the ironmind hub as well but same thing, for some reason I haven't been motivated to find the time to train with it. I'm also doing bouldering more consistently the past couple years but I think for the majority of the climbing holds the rest of my hand and body positioning compensates. I've also just ordered the RB pinch grip converter for grippers and I'm really hoping that this will help make it easier for me to become more serious with thumb strengthening. Any advice or feedback on that or any thumb strengthening exercises/programming would be greatly appreciated. I decided to start this thread to get advice from others and as a reminder that I need to become more serious with thumb strengthening. Thanks in advance guys.

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Justin Matney

I haven't done a whole lot of thumb specific training. I need to do more.

About once a month I'll use my thumbscrew or a pony clamp.

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greppstark

For some reason I don't have a hard time training my thumbs. Just because I know it plays a big roll if I want to close big grippers and I don't want anything more than that. I train Pinch two times a week. One time one handed plate pinch and the other with a 50mm pinch block attached to a loading pin. Since I started doing plate pinch I've made goals and there for I'm really motivated to train pinch. Just look at the top gripper guys they have pretty meaty thumbs, especially (Jonathan Vogt)

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Tom Scibelli

I have found that the euro pinch device is awesome for strengthening your thumb and hand overall. You can make one or buy it or put 2 35's smooth side out with a pipe through the middle and collars to hold the plates together, you'll probably want to grind down the edge too.

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Jared Goguen

I like the TTK, I love my TTK clone. Want to work those thumb I believe that is the route to go down. Reps and negatives.

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Elmo

For some reason it does not motivate me as much to train them specifically.

I think it's a common problem with "smaller" bodyparts. People often try to do them last in a workout but when the moment comes there's no time or energy after the big important exercises. Calves after legs, forearms after upper arms, abs after torso... One possible and logical cure to that is to put it in the program and do it first in a workout. No excuses. Might be difficult, I know...

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Grind

Grippers are at this moment the least important grip implement for me now. My thumbs are also my weakest part and I think it's important for me now to train allround and later focus on grippers. What do you guys think about the rolling thunder as a exercise for the thumb?

Edited by Grind

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Jonathan McMillan

Sounds like you know what to do, just need the motivation to do it Evan. The experts generally reccomend dynamic thumb work for hypertrophy to increase the size of the thumb pad. pony clamp, ttk were listed. I have been focusing more on static thumb work with block weights but do work some dynamic exercise in my routine. I do an exercise that I call a thumb hang for this. I place my fingers on a work bench, hang weight on a strap off my thumb and pinch it up to the bottom of the work bench surface which is fairly narrow. Only doing 2 sets of 20 reps and started micro loading at 1 lb but am now only going 1/2lb increases.

Jon@han

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Jones1874

Sounds like you know what to do, just need the motivation to do it Evan. The experts generally reccomend dynamic thumb work for hypertrophy to increase the size of the thumb pad. pony clamp, ttk were listed. I have been focusing more on static thumb work with block weights but do work some dynamic exercise in my routine. I do an exercise that I call a thumb hang for this. I place my fingers on a work bench, hang weight on a strap off my thumb and pinch it up to the bottom of the work bench surface which is fairly narrow. Only doing 2 sets of 20 reps and started micro loading at 1 lb but am now only going 1/2lb increases.

Jon@han

I like the sound of that one! Do you mind sharing what you use as a thumb strap?

Thanks in advance.

Edit: what weight would you recommend starting with?

Edited by Jones1874

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Jared Goguen

TTK!

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Evan Raftopoulos

thanks guys, this is all great advice. I think starting tomorrow I will focus more on

1. plate pinching and ironmind hub for static holds (I'm also getting the Shallow hub in a few days)

2. use the pinch grip converter for dynamic pinching as soon as I get it (I'm really counting on this one)

Will do this twice a week and if my thumbs feel ok I might focus on other pinch grip exercises as well. I assume fat gripz and rolling handles help too. I will try and avoid using the thumb too much with more than 2.5 inch handles and also avoid hyper-extending the thumb joints to help prevent joint pain, although I assume some of it is expected. I'm not planning on pushing to failure at least at the beginning. Tomorrow I'll get a baseline measure with the pinch gauge I have at my work and see if I improve in 6-8 weeks.

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Evan Raftopoulos

David Horne's Stub lift looks like a great exercise for the thumb as well. Too bad I didn't order one when I had the chance (a few of us ordered some stuff a few weeks ago to save on shipping). Anyone knows of a similar setup?


I guess I could just use a strap with wts attached.

Edited by Evan Raftopoulos

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Ceya!

I train my thumbs and fingers.

I use small rubber balls (gum ball machine kind) for pinch grip for the thumb, fore and middle fingers.

I also use kneaded erasers ( used for art or drafting) looks like putty after kneading it for awhile.

I use clamps small med and large. Fingers are very important in grappling and martial arts.

Use juice bottles (Trader Joe's juice ) and hold the cap of the bottle for time, pinch grip for the thumb, fore and middle fingers.

I also use rubber bands - purple, blue from Whole Foods to give it a good workout. They are thick and small..

S/F,

CEYA!

Edited by Ceya!
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Geralt

Thumbscrews from David Horne. Basically your portable Titan's telegraph key. Together with a weak spring for the Vulcan, you can train your thumbpads completely sore. Set them up on very easy grippers though, or the resistance is too high for one hand only.

I train my thumbs one handed, because training both hands, the dominant hand will finish the close and take over too much. That said, full closes are not nessecary to train the thumbs hard with these things.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27s2DE3bTdc

Also what the other guys said. Lot's of possibilities, you only need to put in the work.

Edited by Geralt
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Elmo

The experts generally reccomend dynamic thumb work for hypertrophy to increase the size of the thumb pad. pony clamp, ttk were listed. I have been focusing more on static thumb work with block weights but do work some dynamic exercise in my routine. I do an exercise that I call a thumb hang for this. I place my fingers on a work bench, hang weight on a strap off my thumb and pinch it up to the bottom of the work bench surface which is fairly narrow.

I have done similar exercises. (I'm trying to embed images, I don't know if it works... EDIT: it didn't work.)

Thumb opposing the fingers. Normal pinch.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6Mr2lNJuTl3bVNvVHpVXzBKanM&authuser=0

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6Mr2lNJuTl3X1hGTVRLOV9NTWM&authuser=0

Thumb going to the side. A bit similar to "Key pinch".

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6Mr2lNJuTl3dk1tazVDR0wxWFU&authuser=0

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6Mr2lNJuTl3R2xETWxHLU14UU0&authuser=0

You can see the strap, it's about 1 inch / 25 mm. It's on the last bone of the thumb.

Pros:

- dynamic movement, can be done as a normal dynamic exercise with reps and sets

- uses all positions/widths instead of one static

- easy to set up without special equipment

Cons:

- easy to overstretch

- easy to overdo for the first time :)

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Anthony C.

Lots of good stuff in this thread. Evan, train those thumbs brother. The thumb is the most important key to grip strength, IMO.

Also, Jared, you are never coming to my house for a barbeque.

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greppstark

TTK!

Sick thumb strength! Is this done by using one thumb or do you use both? Awesome either way.

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Jared Goguen

Lots of good stuff in this thread. Evan, train those thumbs brother. The thumb is the most important key to grip strength, IMO.

Also, Jared, you are never coming to my house for a barbeque.

Yeah if you ever want to lift the Inch or Blob the thumb is key.

Hahaha, ill try to control myself.

TTK!

Sick thumb strength! Is this done by using one thumb or do you use both? Awesome either way.

It both I guess one thumb is on top of the other so you focus the pressure in a small spot kinda hurts the tip of the thumb.

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greppstark

Lots of good stuff in this thread. Evan, train those thumbs brother. The thumb is the most important key to grip strength, IMO.

Also, Jared, you are never coming to my house for a barbeque.

Yeah if you ever want to lift the Inch or Blob the thumb is key.

Hahaha, ill try to control myself.

TTK!

Sick thumb strength! Is this done by using one thumb or do you use both? Awesome either way.

It both I guess one thumb is on top of the other so you focus the pressure in a small spot kinda hurts the tip of the thumb.

Need to try this after some dedicated thumbtraining :D

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Evan Raftopoulos

my best attempts on the pinch guage (60 pounds capacity) today were 29 pounds on the right and 27 on the left. My goal is to improve 10 pounds in 4-6 weeks (it's just a goal, not sure how reasonable ~30% improvement is) . I'm sure some guys here can take it all the way to 60 pounds.

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Evan Raftopoulos

Use juice bottles (Trader Joe's juice ) and hold the cap of the bottle for time, pinch grip for the thumb, fore and middle fingers.

very creative man, I have to try this now next time I go to the grocery store, I'll just hang out there and work my pinch grip :grin:

Edited by Evan Raftopoulos

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Jonathan McMillan
I like the sound of that one! Do you mind sharing what you use as a thumb strap?

Thanks in advance.

Edit: what weight would you recommend starting with?

As Elmo states it's easy to overdue this one so err on the side of caution. Start around 15lbs keep and the reps high would be what I would suggest.

Jon@han

forgot to mention I use a Husky hangall that I got from homedepot years ago.

Grind, I think your post got lost in the shuffle. I personally don't train with the RT much. If I am going to do thick bar I prefer a barbell or dumbell.

Jared: Loved the video, I'll give this a try after another month of training!!!! :mosher

Jon@han

Edited by Jonathan McMillan

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Metacarpal

Here is a non-isometric thumb exercise I have been doing lately, see attached picture I'm sure it has been done before, but call it the jelly fish:). Basically you reach out with your fingers and dig them into the ground, then pull/drag the weight forward toward your fingers with your thumb. There is no eccentric component to this exercise so you can do a lot of volume. Good for active recovery.

post-22815-0-74240000-1433811245_thumb.j

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Tom Scibelli

Here is a non-isometric thumb exercise I have been doing lately, see attached picture I'm sure it has been done before, but call it the jelly fish:). Basically you reach out with your fingers and dig them into the ground, then pull/drag the weight forward toward your fingers with your thumb. There is no eccentric component to this exercise so you can do a lot of volume. Good for active recovery.

That's pretty creative, looks like a good workout

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Evan Raftopoulos

I finally got my first (Strap) loading pin today and tried max lifts on ironmind hub and RB 3inch rolling handle. It's my first time trying max lifts with these and I feel like my thumbs got a great workout. Can't wait to try the 2.5 crusher and the shallow hub in a few days.

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