Get a Grip: The Pinch Grip

April 28, 2017
1 min read

The pinch grip is probably the least glamorous of the three grip types. Please refer back to my previous grip articles here, here and here. Among grip experts, the consensus is that in order to maintain good hand health, it’s very important to train all aspects of your grip. The pinch grip is vital to overall hand strength because it, more than any other grip, involves the thumb. The Opponens pollicis, Abductor pollicis and Adductor pollicis are the thumb muscles responsible for developing a power pinch grip. If you squeeze your thumb against your forefinger you can “flex” these muscles. Men who perform manual labor generally have a fairly developed set of thumbs muscles.
Jesse Marunde was professional strongman who passed away in 2007. He had a genetic heart defect and died while training. Marunde was known for his outstanding grip, and had closed the CoC gripper by the time he turned 18. Besides being a strongman, Marunde was a defensive end at Montana State University, and was able to sack the opposing quarterback with one hand. One hand you say, big deal. Marunde didn’t just sack the quarterback with one hand, but did so using just two fingers, his thumb and forefinger. So how do you develop that type of pinch grip?
There are several exercises that you can incorporate into your grip training schedule. The first is very basic, and I’ll put the video of Jedd Johnson’s explanation of the exercise at the bottom of this article. Taking two plates (start with 5-10 pound plates) face the smooth side out and line them up. Chalk your hands and the plates, bend over and pick them up to a standing position. Do this three times a week, 3-5 reps for the first few weeks, and then you can progress to the next few exercises.
The next variation of the pinch grip is doing the above exercise and walking. It sounds simple. In reality, it’s much more difficult because the jostling of your steps will dislodge the plates. You can work this exercise into your farmer’s walk day.
The two-handed pinch grip looks like this. This is as straightforward as it sounds. Again, two plates with the smooth sides out, chalk the hands and plate, pinch and stand up. You can work this into your one hand pinch grips days.
Don’t neglect your pinch grip. It’s very important to hand health, thumb strength and overall grip power. When you’ve become a pinch grip powerhouse you can begin to do this. Come back next week when I’ll be talking about developing powerful forearms.


  1. OK, I need to get in shape for a Spartan Race in just over two months.
    I aim to hit the pullup bars and work a LOT on grip strength.
    Last time I did the pullup bar, I went slow and still wound up with inflammation in my elbows. How to avoid this?

    • I have that happen when my grip width is wrong, either too wide or too narrow. Also, when I overextend the elbow at the bottom of the exercise.
      I have it dialed in better, but it took some tweaking to get it right.

  2. Grip and hand strength is very important in combat – According to my Grandfather who worked at a furniture factory with a type of staple gun prior to WW2. He credits his immense grip strength for saving his life in hand to hand combat with Japanese, and he once saved a man’s life by squeezing both legs when they got blown off below the knee.

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