DIY Pinch Bar

by Roger LaPointe

Sig Klein and the Pinch Grip.

Grip strength training is nothing new folks. Check out the photo of Sig Klein using a home made pinch grip bar.

Get yourself a nice 4 x 4 beam of wood, sink in a pair of eye hooks and you use that to lift your barbell. Slice up your beam to other thicknesses to work the grip with other sizes. Personally, I find a little stain and poly on mine makes it a nicer looking tool, but that’s really unnecessary. Here are some exercises for your grip with your new Wooden Pinch Bar.

Try these out for size:
Reverse Curls
One Hand Deadlifts
Two Hand Deadlifts
Bent Over Rows
Pinching From the Ends
Wrist Curls
Hack Lifts

That should give you enough to try out and fry your hands. If you want more ideas, check out these three publications:

Garage Gym Guide

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

Rules for the Pinch Grip

by Al Myers

Mark Mitchell, of the Dino Gym, lifting 252# in the Pinch Grip at the 2012 Dino Gym Record Day. This is the ALL TIME best Pinch Grip in the history of the USAWA.

The first lift conducted in the USAWA Grip Championships will be the Pinch Grip.  This lift is in the rulebook under “Special Equipment Lifts”.  The reason for this is that the “special equipment” is the plates themselves – as that is what is used to pinch to make the lift.  The USAWA rules for the Pinch Grip are as follows:

I15.  Pinch Grip

The setup for this lift requires two metal plates joined together with smooth surfaces facing outward. A bar may be placed between the plates to hold them together, and should be long enough to add plates to it. Front hang or back hang is allowed to the loading of the center bar.  Collars should be used on this bar. The lifter’s fingers must not touch any added plates. The width of the two plates joined together must be between 2 ¼ inches and 2 ½ inches. The lifter will straddle the weight, with the weight being placed in front of the lifter. Width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be parallel and in line with the torso. Feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise.  The lifter will then grip the plates with both hands on the top of both plates. The palms of the hands must be facing the lifter. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The weight must be lifted to a point where the lifter’s legs are straight and the body upright. Once the weight is motionless, an official will give a command to lower the weight.

At the Grip Champs, we will use two old york 45# plates as the “gripping plates” with a VB holding them together. You will like these plates for this lift because these are the old “milled” York Plates.  If you don’t know why these are better, you soon will when you get your mitts on them.   I do have some 35# plates if less weight is going to be lifted. I also want to emphasize that the only substance that may be used on the hands is chalk.  I will be watching this closely!!  The rules do not specify whether the arms can be bent or not - so that means they may be bent during the lift. 

Below are the Overall Mens USAWA records in the Pinch Grip.  I expect to see several of these get broken at the USAWA Grip Championships!!!

70 100 Howard, Colby 5/23/1999 99 Super Grip Challenge
75 135 Jaeschke, Jon 10/18/2003 2003 Super Grip Challenge
80 150 Jaeschke, Chris 10/19/2002 2002 SuperGrip
85 190 Wagman, Dan 12/1/2012 2012 Gracie Club RD
90 170 Goetsch, Troy 5/20/2012 2012 Jobes Steel Jungle RD
95 170 Fulton, Doug 5/23/1999 99 Super Grip Challenge
100 162 Edwards, Ben  2/12/2011 2011 Grip Championships
105 204 Glass, Adam 3/3/2012 2012 Minnesota Meet
110 170 Capello, Mac 5/20/2012 2012 Jobes Steel Jungle RD
115 175 Carlton, Brian 9/16/2001 2001 Supergrip Challenge
120 200 Graham, Matt 10/19/2002 2002 SuperGrip
125 200 Graham, Matt 10/18/2003 2003 Super Grip Challenge
125+ 252 Mitchell, Mark 2/12/2012 2012 Dino Gym Record Day


NOTES:  The record lift are recorded in pounds.

The Blob

by Al Myers

Scott "THE ENFORCER" Tully demonstates a pinch grip lift of two 50 pound blobs, one in each hand!!

A very popular gripping device that originated in the mid 1990’s was the Blob.  Initially, the term “the blob” referred to only the 50 pound end of a  York 100 lb. dumbbell (the heaviest dumbbell from the casting), but since then has been applied to all weights of these York dumbbell ends.  The dumbbell in question is the York Dumbbell design from the 1970’s where the ends are round with sloping sides - a shape much like a hockey puck.  The preferred method of lifting a blob is to use a one hand pinch grip. The sloping sides add to the difficulty of maintaining a hold.  In the Dino Gym, we have a “complete set” of York Blobs – from 20 pounds to 50 pounds in 2.5 pound intervals. Often, challenges arise and we will start with the smaller ones and work our way up.  I’m usually in “this game” until we get to the 40-42,5 pounder, and then I have to bow out.  Darren and Scott always win,  as both have picked up the 50 pound blob many times.  One hand pinch lifting a 50# blob is considered the ultimate accomplishment.  It takes someone with an exceptional pinch grip to be able to accomplish this.  The “pure way” of lifting them is without chalk – and using tacky is forbidden!!

Around 2005, York discountined the production of this dumbbell style for awhile.   It made those that had York Blobs worth alot!  I remember watching ebay and seeing some of the prices paid for York Blobs.  For a while, one of these York Dumbbells was worth more as two blobs than an intact dumbbell!! You gotta say the grip guys can be quite the fanatics!  I know lots of  hard-core weightlifting collectors didn’t like to see a collector dumbbell like these getting cut up into two pieces!!  It wasn’t long after this and these dumbbells were manufactured again using the original foundry casting, and in return, the value of blobs came back down to an affordable rate.  They are now sold under the “Legacy Line” of York products.

Link to York Barbell Website -

My Pinch Grip Training

by Scott Schmidt

Greetings, Fellow Strongmen!

Scott Schmidt shows his AMAZING Pinch Grip - with a 2 Hand Pinch Grip of 180 pounds and a 1 Hand Pinch Grip of 115 pounds.

After a recent performance at the Historic Ambridge Bar Bell Club Challenge, I was asked to submit an article describing my training techniques for the Pinch Grip Lift.

It is my pleasure to share these methods with anyone who is looking to improve their grip oriented lifting events. I will offer the recommended exercises I have used to improve my gripping strength. I have not “specialized” only in working on my grip. I do my grip exercises in between the heavy lift workouts of squats, pulls, overhead supports etc. I focus on grip movements in order to insure I do not have a weak link while doing the pulling in the Olympic Style quick lifts.

That said, among the best grip training exercises are the results you gain from doing the snatch grip dead lift. Since it is an awkward position, it forces your grip to respond. You know your limit easily when the bar doesn’t finish to the top of the thighs. You also are activating other groups of pulling muscles while doing the snatch grip dead lift. This is a bonus because to pick up modest weight for hand strength only will not enable you to progress as fast. And, since the “grip only” muscles can be used up quickly, i.e. hands, fingers, and forearms, by doing an exercise which involves other muscles, you are not as likely to over train your “grip only” muscles.

In addition to doing 3 sets of 3 reps in the snatch grip dead lift 80% of max single, which of course can produce strength gains in many areas, here are some other exercises I do to improve my results when targeting a record in a “grip only” lift:

Lift Sets Reps % of Max
2 Inch Vertical Bar Deadlift 3 3 75
2 Hand Pinch Grip 4 2 80
1 Hand Pinch Grip 6 1 90
Bent Over Row 5 5 60

In summary, these 5 exercises have been very useful to me in order to achieve grip lift record results. Another movement you can do to help you set targets for improvement is to lift something awkward with one hand at a time. For instance, I get Spring Water delivered to my front door in 5 gallon jugs. I then have to take them to my gym area. To test myself, I have used the full bottles to see how long I can hold them from the neck. Or, how long I can walk with one in each hand. Just an idea to have fun improving your grip and break up the “iron only” exercises.

Hope this article helps you get rid of any “bottle cap twist-off” issues.