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Thumb Strengthening


Evan Raftopoulos

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Good isometric is to pinch your desk and see if you can pull yourself closer in an office chair. Careful with wrist position. My desk is 1" thick, slick on top and a little more grip on the bottom. Good if you're bored at work with no equipment.

Funny I've done this for years now. Kinda like an active recovery low intensity iso.

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TTK!

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 di

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

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Evan Raftopoulos

Good isometric is to pinch your desk and see if you can pull yourself closer in an office chair. Careful with wrist position. My desk is 1" thick, slick on top and a little more grip on the bottom. Good if you're bored at work with no equipment.

yes funny, I was trying this with my co workers the other day who can do it with one hand.

I decided to take pinch grip more seriously (I know, I've said that before) so I have the euro device that I got recently in my apartment now (used to be in the trunk of my car and used it only couple of times). I try to lift it up whenever I pass by :P but I train more seriously with higher reps and holds for time twice a week hopefully to build good foundation before doing 1RMs. I don't like the dynamic thumb exercises for some reason.

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I think the lack of dynamic thumb work has held my thickbar back. Whereas I've worked up to a respectable pinch but my total thumb strength is limited to pinch grip positions and not as much curled over a bar. Currently working on changing that while trying to maintain a strong pinch.

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So one guy says dynamic thumb work is dangerous, and another says the lack of it has held him back! I wish more I Concrete stuff was know about grip like it is in lifting!

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So Mikael has a good point here, he's more or less cautioning against heavy dynamic work because it IS risky, especially for someone new to grip. I do, however, believe completely avoiding it leaves an athlete with weakness in certain aspects of grip down the road. My point, train to be balanced and don't overdo or undertrain any one element.

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Evan Raftopoulos

So one guy says dynamic thumb work is dangerous, and another says the lack of it has held him back! I wish more I Concrete stuff was know about grip like it is in lifting!

to my understanding there's nothing concrete about exercise parameters when it comes to strengthening. We have a general idea of what works but I think it's hard to generalize things that are very specific for example dynamic vs static pinch grip. It takes trial and error and there are too many variables to even say for sure that what you are doing is optimal training. Just my opinion.

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I don't know about strength, but I started doing the clamp thing with the same frequency as extensor bands, maybe 5 sets a day week days, and in about a month I have noticed a size increase in my thumb pad.

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Good idea by Metacarpal (Post #23) thumb drag with a weight plate. A slight modification would be to take a 2" x 4" by 26 '' long board and put nails in a row along the center line, at one end 1" apart, about 1/2 " high. Use a 12" mini band over a nail of choice, put fingers over other end of board, put end of mini band over end of thumb and slowly pull thumb towards fingers at end of board.

You can also put fingers and thumb on other end of board and pull thumb in opposite direction away from fingers on end of board.

Really the same as attached picture by Metacarpal but using a mini band instead of dragging a weight plate with a strap.

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Metacarpal

With regard to dynamic thumb work leading to injuries: I actually agree with this for the most part. It seems that all of the the available devices that allow heavy dynamic thumb work (pinching grippers, TTK, pony clamp with a ton of rubber bands, etc.) force you to use your thumb in direct opposition to your fingers if you want to go through the fullest range of motion. I don't know about others, but my thumb does not even come close to directly opposing the fingers. In the past when I have tried to go really heavy with dynamic work, I always felt some degree of discomfort in the thumb joints...probably due to forcing them to oppose the fingers.

These days I only use dynamic thumb exercises for lighter, high rep stuff. This does not bother my thumb joints at all and I think it may offer some degree of training effect that isometric training is not as well suited for such at active recovery and conditioning through full ranges of motions. Also, based on what I have read from Chris Rice, high rep dynamic exercises may have an effect on mitochondrial density that sets the stage for continued strength gains later on.

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If you use the IMTUG properly, your thumb is not even close to directly opposing your fingers, and I have found it to be quite comfortable thus far.

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With regard to dynamic thumb work leading to injuries: I actually agree with this for the most part. It seems that all of the the available devices that allow heavy dynamic thumb work (pinching grippers, TTK, pony clamp with a ton of rubber bands, etc.) force you to use your thumb in direct opposition to your fingers if you want to go through the fullest range of motion. I don't know about others, but my thumb does not even come close to directly opposing the fingers. In the past when I have tried to go really heavy with dynamic work, I always felt some degree of discomfort in the thumb joints...probably due to forcing them to oppose the fingers.

These days I only use dynamic thumb exercises for lighter, high rep stuff. This does not bother my thumb joints at all and I think it may offer some degree of training effect that isometric training is not as well suited for such at active recovery and conditioning through full ranges of motions. Also, based on what I have read from Chris Rice, high rep dynamic exercises may have an effect on mitochondrial density that sets the stage for continued strength gains later on.

Exactly why I sold my TTK a few years ago. Once I got to higher weights on it I was getting ligament injuries on the thumb joint for this exact reason. Made some attachment mods that helped some with that but eventually said the heck with it.

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The consensus seems to be that heavy dynamic thumb work will get you injured eventually, but high rep / light weight that gets the blood flowing is good.

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Mikael Siversson

High reps/low reps makes no difference to me. It will still keep my thumb joints more-or-less inflamed. I am setting new PRs almost every workout since I stopped doing them. For me it was half a decade of wasted training, it is that bad. Everyone is different I guess.

Interesting to note perhaps that the two individuals in the this thread who have ditched dynamic thumb training are two of only three listed on the 4x10k one hand pinch. In other words don't think you cannot build strong thumbs if you don't do dynamic thumb work.

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Going to take your advice Mikael. Even biomechanically what you're saying makes sense. What do you think about extensor training? It is essentially dynamic thumb training in reverse, partially.

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Mikael Siversson

Given where we come from (seen in the perspective of humanoid evolution) it is quite obvious that nature did not intend us to do extensor training for our hands. The other apes don't do any extensor training whatsoever and yet have ridiculously strong hands. I did them for a while several years ago and ended up with sore finger joints.

I fully agree with Adam Glass on this. Others, however, insist they do wonders for their elbow joints. Not quite sure how that actually works given they are such weak muscles. Many examples in nature where there is huge difference in strength of antagonistic muscles.

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Apes don't train crushing strength either, though. I think the proponents of extensor training think that it is the actual training of the crush grip through full range of motion with intensity that warrants opposition training.

I have yet to decide on this issue, though I'm sure I'll end up siding with you just like the dynamic thumb issue. I have seen very rapid increases in my extensor strength using bands, but am thinking of switching to sand since it lets the thumb track more naturally. I also have heard of putting bricks on top of your fingers to hold up, but that ignores the thumb extensor completely. I also think, like Adam Glass said, that band extensor work has the potential to be harmful because most people do it against a straightened or even hyperextended thumb, when in reality all knuckles should be slightly bent, forcing you to extend all 5 fingers through their more natural ranges.

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Part of thumb strength, especially for wider pinch, is the 1st dorsal interosseous, the muscle on top of your hand between thumb and 1st finger. Simply squeezing a stress ball with thumb and finger straight can get a pretty good burn there.

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Mikael Siversson

My gripper strength is the weakest of the big three (20mm gripper, Euro 2HP, Axle) relative to the 74k weight class WR so I am certainly not the right person to give advice on gripper strength.

Apes don't train crushing strength either, though. I think the proponents of extensor training think that it is the actual training of the crush grip through full range of motion with intensity that warrants opposition training.

I have yet to decide on this issue, though I'm sure I'll end up siding with you just like the dynamic thumb issue. I have seen very rapid increases in my extensor strength using bands, but am thinking of switching to sand since it lets the thumb track more naturally. I also have heard of putting bricks on top of your fingers to hold up, but that ignores the thumb extensor completely. I also think, like Adam Glass said, that band extensor work has the potential to be harmful because most people do it against a straightened or even hyperextended thumb, when in reality all knuckles should be slightly bent, forcing you to extend all 5 fingers through their more natural ranges.

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I thought that bands were ineffective, and, to a point, they are in terms of strength. My elbows only stay at peace with me when I do the bands and cheese ball can. So I conclude that if you put the hands through unnaturally tough training, extensors is an unnatural way to keep it balanced.

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  • 4 years later...
richcottrell
On 6/7/2015 at 10:41 PM, Jared Goguen said:

 

TTK!

Did anyone save Jared’s video?  I do mis that guy on the forum but I wanted to rewatch his video to see what his TTK version looked like

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Paul Savage

It's not so much the thumb strength that's important, that helps but it's more the size of your thumb pad that's really important. If your don't have big thumb pads, especially as you get up to heavier grippers, the back handle will go too far back and end up in a very hard position to fully close the gripper. An easy way to fully understand this is to imagine there is no thumb pad at all, how do you close a gripper? You basically cant as it will just slide away from you.

As for the ttk, I'd recommend building one unless you have plenty of cash to spare but it's definitely a big help to grippers if used correctly.

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