April 23, 2014

Two Hands Pinch Magic Program Layout

Today I have a combination post for you. It is partially the April Workout of the Month and partially a What’s Working Now post.

As you know, I have been training the Two Hands Pinch for a loooooong time, and I have come up with lots of different ways to strengthen the hands for this Grip Sport event.

However, throughout all those years, one aspect of training that has eluded me all this time is an actual program.

Programming has ALWAYS been a weak point of mine, and in most cases, I would just do a whole bunch of training, featuring a whole bunch of drills, and if my lifts went up, I would stick with those drills.

Then, I would cycle in different drills every so often in order to try to keep the gains coming.

Unfortunately, this blind approach to training eventually began to hold me back, and I came to realize I really needed to make some changes in the Fall of last year (2013).

Along the lines, I ended up starting the Grip Task Force, a group of lifters I coach toward their Grip Strength and Feat of Strength Goals.

And believe it or not, this has been the single most beneficial thing I have ever done for my programming abilities, ESPECIALLY for the Two Hands Pinch.

I seem to have stumbled on some kind of Magic Formula for the Two Hands Pinch, and I am sharing this with all of you this month.

The workout looks like this. To use it, all you need to know is your current Two Hands Pinch 1-Rep Max. Multiple it by 80%. This will be the weight you use for set #1.

For set 2, you will add 10lbs, or roughly 8% to 10% more to the bar.

You will then add 5 lbs, or 4% to 5% for the next two sets.

Eat set lasts for 30 seconds. You should try to complete the reps within the 30 second window, and if/when you do, mark down how long it actually took you to complete the reps.

An Example:

Example Max: 126lbs

Set 1: Max – 80% = 100 lbs.

This first set mainly acts as your last specific warm-up set for 2HP, and you go for 5 reps. For the next two sets, you go for 4 reps. On set 4, you go for 3 reps. On set 5, you go for 2 reps.

Sets 1 through 5 will look like this:

Set 1: 100 lbs. Goal in 30 seconds = 5 reps in ___ seconds (Max – 80%)
Set 2: 105 lbs. Goal in 30 seconds = 5 reps in ___ seconds (+8% to 10%)
Set 3: 110 lbs. Goal in 30 seconds = 4 reps in ___ seconds (+4% to 5%)
Set 4: 115 lbs. Goal in 30 seconds = 4 reps in ___ seconds (+4% to 5%)
Set 5: 110 lbs. Goal in 30 seconds = 3 reps in ___ seconds (-4% to 5%)

Set 4 is the highest you will go. From set 5 on, you begin reducing the weight by 4% to 5% each set. (Don’t worry about super small fractions here. Reducing or increasing by 5 to 10lbs instead of the percentages will work just fine).

Don’t forget to write in how many seconds it took you to get your target number of repetitions. This is important, because you will be able to compare from workout to workout how quickly you have been able to get the repetitions. You will eventually be able to pack more and more repetitions of the same weight into a smaller allotment of time.

For Set 6, you will be back to either your starting weight or set 2’s weight and you will rep it out, this time for 45 seconds. Whether or not you will go back to the starting weight depends entirely on how you are feeling and how you have been performing with this program. If you are feeling good that day, then rep out on set #2’s weight. Not so great – drop down to set #1.

Also, if you are seeing more than 6 reps in your rep-out set week in and week out by using the weight from set 1, I would suggest repping out on set #2’s weight, so you are working just that little bit heavier.

This Workout has helped TGA and GTF member, Chris Andrade, BIG TIME on his Two Hands Pinch. After starting out with a PR around 126 to 130, he is now working on 150lbs for his set 4 weight. He also has been handling multiple reps per workout with his previous PR weight for several weeks, going all the way back to March.

Also, my friend Lucas Raymond has been following this layout along with me on his unseasoned apparatus. When we started this, his 1RM on the Two Hands Pinch was around 170-175. Just last night, (4/22/14) he broke 220lbs off the ground in two separate sets roughly 3 inches or so each time.

I think the reason why this Workout works so well has to do with several factors.

First and foremost, you will be working fairly close to your 1RM. I have found the best way to make consistent gains in Grip and in Strength Training in General is to spend time near your 1RM. Working too light, while it builds your endurance, does not seem to translate well to a bigger overall lift, especially for me and as far as 2HP is concerned.

Next, the overall volume of this routine is not too high, so you can bounce back from the workout fairly well. Chris has been doing 2HP once a week and has made gains every single week. Luke and I have been going with a Tuesday/Saturday/Thursday/Tuesday split for 2HP. My numbers per set have increased, although I have had a rash of thumb cuts that have held my overall numbers back, and Luke is just plain exploding.

Related to this, the volume of these main work sets is also low enough that you can perform other accessory work as well. I often perform a few sets of Shallow Seated Pinch for sets of 3 to 5 reps, as well as Holds for Time, since that is an event in the next contest.

Also, you will notice that this routine does not fall too far from the old “3 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 reps” routines I have suggested in the past. That guideline allows for 9 to 25 overall working repetitions. Here we have 5 sets of dictated work totaling 21 reps, followed by a 6th set for a rep-out. So the overall volume with end up just slightly higher than the “3 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 reps” paradigm.

Finally, I think the emphasis on performing the reps in a compact amount of time is important to success. It provides another performance comparison factor that can be used to gauge progress. It is very cool to see 90% of your current max coming up 3 seconds faster every single week. That means you are getting stronger without a doubt.

In closing, keep in mind that this kind of layout can most likely work with just about every other Grip Training Goal you have. Two Hands Pinch is simply the only thing that I have used it with.

If you have any questions on this, be sure to get a hold of me.

Thanks and all the best,