Captains Of Crush Grippers: A Detailed Review
How is your grip strength?
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t do much to train your grip separately.
I understand completely; for years, I didn’t train my grip either.
Instead, I would just rely on pulling exercises like deadlifts and shrugs to develop my grip.
And while this can certainly work, I found that my grip was often a limiting factor in many of my lifts.
This was especially true when I was deadlifting: my grip would often be the first thing to give out – way before the other muscles that were primarily responsible for moving the weight!
I could, of course, just use straps, but this felt like putting a bandaid on the problem, instead of addressing it properly.
So I went into research mode, and found all sorts of things that people were doing to increase their grip strength.
These included farmers walks, using fat grips for pull-ups, plate pinches – all of which can be effective.
But then I came upon something that really caught my interest: Captains of Crush grippers, made by a company called IronMind.
I was already pretty familiar with hand grippers, but was never terribly impressed when I used them.
The problem is that most grippers on the market are poorly constructed, and don’t provide adequate resistance for proper grip training.
So they’ll end up sitting on your desk, and occasionally you’ll do a bunch of light weight reps just for the hell of it.
And this is perfectly fine if you’re just looking to exercise your hand a bit – and stave off carpel tunnel – but these cheapo plastic brands aren’t going to ever build real strength.
But the Captains of Crush grippers looked nothing like those crappy brands that you buy from sports stores.
These things were known to be heavy duty – and with 100s of glowing amazon reviews, I decided that they were worth a shot.
The Gold Standard Of Grippers
My gripper arrived a few days later, so I eagerly opened the package to take a look.
As soon as I put the thing in my hand I could tell that it was extremely high quality.
I had read that each gripper is made with Knurled aircraft-grade aluminum handles, and it just felt really, really sturdy.
Also, I should mention here that unlike conventional hand grippers, Captains of Crush have 11 different levels to choose from.
The lowest level, which provides 60 pounds of resistance – all the way to their highest level, with a ridiculous 365 pounds of resistance.
As it turns out, there are only 2 people in the world that can close the top level Captains of Crush gripper…
And one of those people is Magnus Samuelsson, one of the strongest guys in the entire world!
After reading this, I decided that I should probably start out slowly, given that I’m not quite as strong as Magnus Samuelsson, and get the trainer model first, with 100 lbs of resistance.
The IronMind website claimed that ‘strong guys’ should begin with this model, and I had read that this is a good place to start if you’re already an established weight lifter, so I thought that this would make sense for me.
However, I fully expected that this would be way too easy, and that I would immediately need to get the next level (or 2) up.
Boy was I wrong!
As I first tried to close the gripper, I immediately realized that these things were hard.
Yes, the trainer model was genuinely challenging.
I was able to close it 10 times with my right hand, but my left was only able to manage 6 repetitions.
Wow, what a humbling experience. I thought that my grip was decent, and I couldn’t even manage to get out more than 6 reps with a comparatively easy model.
I had my work cut out for me…
Training Your Grip With Captains Of Crush
I knew that if I was to improve my grip, I couldn’t treat grip training as an afterthought.
Instead, I had to approach it in much the same way as my other exercises: with a plan that focused on systematic progression.
So each week I scheduled a day with 5-6 sets of grip strength training.
I would aim to do 10 reps for each set – and once I was able to do that, I would order the next level gripper.
Here is a video that does a great job illustrating how to use the grippers with proper form:
As you can see, it is only considered a rep if you close the gripper the entire way, bringing the handles together.
So don’t cheat yourself and count half reps as reps; instead, focus on slow and steady progression, trying to do just one more rep each time.
This, of course, means that you should be logging your progress on this each week, just like you (hopefully) do with other exercises.
The good thing is that you obviously don’t need to be in the gym to use these, so just set aside some time once or twice a week for your grip training.
You should, however, treat them like real sets.
This means resting 2-3 minutes between sets, and really focusing on giving each one your all.
Otherwise, given how damn hard these things are, you aren’t likely to progress beyond the easier levels – defeating the purpose of the entire exercise!
2 Months Into My Grip Training
So I bought my first set of these grippers a little over 2 months ago.
How have they stacked up? Has my grip improved?
Yes, it has, by a lot.
When I first started out, as I mentioned before, I was only able to close the trainer model (100 lbs of resistance) for 10 reps with my right hand and 6 with my left hand.
Now, after 2 months of consistent training, I have moved up 2 levels of gripper, and am now using the one with 140 lbs of resistance (known as the #1).
I can currently do 6-8 reps in each hand for 5-6 sets, and generally improve each week.
More importantly, all of this grip training has made a significant difference to my deadlift.
I am now deadlifting 35 pounds more than before, and I owe this primarily to my increased grip strength.
The grippers themselves have held up amazingly well too.
There is no visible wear and tear, and the spring provides the same level of resistance as when they were brand new.
Come On, Give Us The Dirt!
Now before I conclude this review, I want to mention a few potential drawbacks of the Captains of Crush grippers.
First of all, since there are multiple levels – and the whole point is to try to work your way up – you’ll likely have to buy more than one gripper.
Each one costs about $25 bucks, so it’s not like they are incredibly expensive or anything (especially for the quality), but it is a point worth noting.
Secondly, I wouldn’t exactly call these things comfortable to hold…
You see, the handle on each gripper is very rough, and may chafe your hand until you are used to them.
The upside of this is that the roughness of the handle allows you to get a very firm grip, making it easier to do the actual exercise.
Finally, there is one more downside worth noting.
These things make even self-professed strong guys, like myself, feel weak.
It is a humbling experience to use them for the first time, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!
And of course this isn’t really a negative at all (I’m sure you can deal with a mildly bruised ego). They are, after all, billed as the gold standard of grippers, designed for people that want to significantly improve their grip strength, and they more than live up to the promise.
So, I would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone that is having grip issues with some of their lifts, wants to increase the size of their forearms – or just wants to be able to hang off the sides of mountains without breaking a sweat.