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anwnate

Progression - For Newbies (Er…Mostly)

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anwnate

Have you ever wondered why you can close a gripper one day and can't another? It's not all that complicated…but let's lay some groundwork to begin with.

Are you getting weaker? Are you regressing? Is your program wrong?

No.

Unless you take so much time off that you start to atrophy, you are not getting weaker or regressing.

By definition, all gripper programs involve gripper work, therefore all programs are right. Some are very aggressive and some not-so much…but they all work. Could they be sub-optimal? Sure. Could the program be dangerous? Possibly with poor application. But "wrong"…no.

Why do 95% of gripsters quit grippers before they reach their goal? (I simply picked that number)

Lack of progression.

Progression = Motivation.

A simple concept…but in many respects, humans are guided by simple desires.

In the beginning, most gripsters have unrealistic expectations due to "newbie gains." They go from a #1 to a #1.5 to a #2 in a matter of months (gripper variance aside), an expect that this type of progression will continue.

I like to call these "newbie gains" something else…"achieving base camp strength". You can say that the first time you touch a gripper is your base…but most of us who start grippers, have lived a life without training that exact crushing motion. By training this for a short period of time, you actually achieve a different sort of base…your first "real" plateau. I picture this as establishing "base camp" on a very high and difficult mountain.

As you bust through these plateau's, the distance to the next level of achievement becomes further and further away. Using the mountain analogy…the air gets thinner and thinner, making progression slower and more difficult. You must expend more energy and time to achieve gains.

Whatever program you follow, to achieve success, you must do three things: Have faith in the program, follow through, avoid sabotage.

Having faith in the program is incredibly important for motivation. I've said this innumerable times…Progress is not linear. Every time you train grippers won't be a PR. There are too many factors involved for you to always be "on" at the "whim" of a training program. The longer you have been training, the longer your outlook needs to be for judging it. For anyone at the #3 level, a month means very little…and 2-3 weeks means nothing at all…zilch, zero, diddly-squat. If you keep judging your progress on a weekly training session, you are not looking at things properly. There are numerous ways to progress…and not all of them are obvious.

Follow through. If you are on a program…follow it. In general, they were all designed by trial and error. Meaning…most of the problems that you may run into, have already been accounted for and worked into the program. Whatever program you choose…follow it for a MINIMUM of 10 weeks before deciding to start "tweaking" things to your own thoughts. Additionally, afterwards, give your hands sufficient rest to recover, since most programs are designed to break down your hands…you may actually UNKNOWINGLY made significant gains that are currently hidden.

Avoiding sabotage. What does this mean? If you are following the gripper program to the letter…but adding a ton of additional grip work with your general training…you have changed the parameters of the program. This could include something as simple as raking your backyard. While these things can't be avoided…you can account for them by adjusting your rest to accommodate for them.

As pretty much all of you know, the reason you can close a gripper on one day and not the next…has to do with both your recovery and CNS. But…this bears repeating. If you are insufficiently recovered…you can't expect to perform at a maximum level. If your CNS isn't firing properly…you can't expect to perform at a maximum level. Can the CNS be manipulated or "turned on" by exercise (squatting, exercise, etc)…yes. Do you have full control of your CNS…hell no. When my back is "out", no matter what I try to do, I can't access my full power. Basically, I'm short circuited. But…that doesn't mean I can't get a gripper workout in. This is where "Faith" or "Trust" in your program comes in to play.

Gripper gains come from "overload" and "recovery." It's extremely simple. You don't get stronger by working out…you get stronger by recovering from working out. Finding out just how much "overload" you can take…and how much "recovery" you need is really the only mystery to grippers. And it's a riddle that actually changes as you age. A twenty-something Nate needed much less time to recover than the forty-something Nate. Some people are naturally better at this than others. Some people "feel" when it's time to work grippers…particularly those who are at the top of the gripper echelon. In lieu of this natural or developed talent, we use a rote program that has been written to accommodate the average need for overload and recovery.

Ok…that's pretty much my rant about progession.

On a personal note…

In mid-October, I set a new 20mm PR. What followed in the next 6 weeks were 4 shitty (far…far from PR) workouts. I didn't get stressed about it, because I have…wait for it "Trust in the program." I knew that by breaking down my hands…they would recover and get stronger. After about 10 days rest from my last gripper workout…I had Gripmas. Ten days from that was last night. I randomly grabbed a gripper from a pile (gym is a wreck right now) and set it (around 2") with my left hand…grinded it. At that point I looked at the tag. It was a #142CPW #3. Now that's pretty cool since that's my left hand and it was almost a CCS. Surprised and motivated…I went ahead and tried to TNS it with the right hand. Almost to my shock…it closed. More shockingly…I felt like I had more in me…so I kept squeezing and grinded it. Looking through the pile of grippers…it turned out that it was the very lightest one there. So luck of the draw created that surprise close. Additionally, it was a PR. While I've TNSd a GHP7…I've pretty much sucked at TNS'ing CoC's. Last night, not only did the knurling not matter…I grinded the close.

I followed that up with a 1" set close on my 175CPW GHP8. No grind. After that I set up my video and attempted another TNS. I was so far away it was ridiculous. I guess I put in too much on the first one.

Although I'm stoked about last night…the purpose of this personal story is much less of a "look at me" and much more of a "trust in the process." I had 4 very difficult, but crappy-ish gripper sessions as a prelude to this close…however, after a bit of rest, I ended up seeing the results of the work I put in.

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Justin Matney

Great stuff here.

Absolutely true about the n00b gains. I went from #2 to #3 in about 5 months, but it took over 3 years to close my elite. Not even close to my #3.5 yet, may be another 3 years or it may not happen at all.

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climber511

I know its just the "words" but recovery means getting back to the original state. Over compensation - or super compensation - or a few other terms is a step beyond recovery and the adaptation you are looking for. When you stress your body it says (not in so many words of course) "wow if he's going to keep doing this crap to us, we're going to have to get stronger". But that takes time which we often don't allow enough of. You can read about this in any number of places - but it is critical to success and what Nate is saying here. Along with the things Arthur Jones got wrong - he pretty much nailed this one.

Thinking that all you need to advance is "recover" isn't enough.

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EJ Livesey

I personally would like to touch on a couple things.

CNS overload, it happens. But how do we fight back? We do it with food, lots of healthy food, rest 8-10 hours a night and vitamins- vitamin C and B's to be specific. When we shock the CNS we over fire our nerves and lower the immune system, which opens us up for sickness (cold or flu) or fatigue which can lead to injuries. We must listen to our bodies and rest, eat and rebuild the immune system.

The key is to train the CNS to walk that fine line of "I'm almost to overload". This is where you will find the best gains. For me, that line starts with subtle shakes and some mild nausea. If I actually vomit, Ive gone too far

Next, guys if you insist on pushing your bodies, joints, tendon and skin; you must stop eating shit. Cut out the garbage fast food, carbs and sugars. You don't need it and it will not help you in your recovery. Eat like a body builder to take full advantage of your training and strength gains. Now be reasonable, no need to eat 5k calories or 10x a day. But you'll get the idea. Only eat what you need, not what tastes good.

Just so there is no confusion CNS overload is different than muscle overload, which Nate was speaking about. These are not the same issues/problems

Edited by EJ Livesey
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bencrush

Great post, Nate!!!!!!!!!! I read it twice. New guys - or those on a gripper plateau - should read it a half dozen times in a row.

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acromegaman

Another great read Nate! I needed come inspiration to keep me going and this seems to have come the trick :)

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Jared Goguen

Great post. This speaks to me cause I pretty much have zero consistence with my grippers.

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climber511

I personally would like to touch on a couple things.

CNS overload, it happens. But how do we fight back? We do it with food, lots of healthy food, rest 8-10 hours a night and vitamins- vitamin C and B's to be specific. When we shock the CNS we over fire our nerves and lower the immune system, which opens us up for sickness (cold or flu) or fatigue which can lead to injuries. We must listen to our bodies and rest, eat and rebuild the immune system.

The key is to train the CNS to walk that fine line of "I'm almost to overload". This is where you will find the best gains. For me, that line starts with subtle shakes and some mild nausea. If I actually vomit, Ive gone too far

Next, guys if you insist on pushing your bodies, joints, tendon and skin; you must stop eating shit. Cut out the garbage fast food, carbs and sugars. You don't need it and it will not help you in your recovery. Eat like a body builder to take full advantage of your training and strength gains. Now be reasonable, no need to eat 5k calories or 10x a day. But you'll get the idea. Only eat what you need, not what tastes good.

Just so there is no confusion CNS overload is different than muscle overload, which Nate was speaking about. These are not the same issues/problems

I'm OK on the training but struggle on the eating clean this time of year. Fruitcake, mincemeat pie etc - man it's tough :).

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Justin Matney

Yeah fruitcake alone blows it out of the water for me.

That and the other 51 weeks of the year.

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David Mitti

Great article Nate!

This couldn't of come at a better time for me, thanks for sharing!

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vickg

Why are grippers the hardest to see gains in?

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bencrush

Great read, Nate! Your insights are something that I like to revisit every few months.

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anwnate

Why are grippers the hardest to see gains in?

It's the nature of the beast really. If we were using a very delicate hand dyno...We Could Probably Track It better.

When you get to upper plateaus...the tiniest variations in the way you set the gripper in your hand...to the way you arw standing...to the exact way your CNS is firing can affect the close. Basically you can't always see your progress since we don't measure it on a scale like the other disciplines. I've told my first three close story a ton of times. I had stalled for weeks and couldn't get that last 1/16"...finally one day I took a piece of paper and some wd40and cleaned the spring. On the paper was the tiniest piece of sand. I then got my first 3 #3closes. So...many things can affect recognition of progress.

Great read, Nate! Your insights are something that I like to revisit every few months.

Thank you sir. You never know what will "click" with someone. Glad it spoke to you.

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KapMan

This was an awesome read, I suffer from poor recovery practices. From not enough stretching to sleep(I can't help that one) and not eating enough then binging. I can attest to slow progression and recovery. This is on point.

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