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Old November 4, 2001, 07:54 PM   #1
Jorah Lavin
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Hand Strengthening Exercises?

I live from day to day with little more exercise than I get driving a car and manhandling a mouse for hours.

I'd like to get some exercise to increase the strength of my grip to help me better control my pistols and revolvers. I've realized that the first 20-30 rounds each range session tend to be the best shooting I'll do that day, and I suspect I just don't have the strength I need. I've got some hard rubber balls I'm going to start with, but was wondering if one of those old-style "nut cracker" squeezers actually work, or if there are newer devices I could try. I've got tons of drive time each day, so I could really put in some time on this.

-J.

PS: Yes, I see the potential for rude jokes in all this... go ahead if you need to.
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Old November 4, 2001, 08:27 PM   #2
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I use a rubber sponge ball.
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Old November 4, 2001, 08:42 PM   #3
Walosi
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Jorah -

A couple of years back, my hands were paralyzed, and on the way back I met a dozen each physical and occupational therapists. Some slept hanging by their feet in a dark closet, but I finally hooked up with a serious guy who knew what he was talking about. Skipping the very basics, when I could actually grasp an object, he gave me two sets of four rubber balls, one set soft and one slightly harder. The smallest was 1 1/2", the next 2", the 3" and 4". The routine was to use the softer set first, working the small ball with just the thumb tip and finger tips, and a full grip on the larger ones. Then, using the small ball, squeeze it between two fingers, with the fingers out straight. Move from thumb-forefinger to forefinger-middle finger, middle-ring, and ring-pinkie. After a couple of months, I had a fairly normal grip back. When I could navigate a wheel chair, he insisted I hold the wheel ring between my thumb tips and the tips of the first three fingers. When I finally built up to where I could handle this (and stopped threatening to kill him) I could literally crack a walnut with the same grip. I've been out of the wheelchair for a few years , but still use the balls (especially the harder small one) and I've added a pair of the plier squeezers to help make up the loss of the wheel chair rim. You can use them several different ways (thumb/one fingertip, palm/all fingertips - make 'em up as you go). My shooting grip is steady enough that I have no trouble holding a sight picture for 100-yd. rams. DO NOT accept the "no pain, no gain" BS. When you feel the beginnings of a cramp, back off, and flex your fingers until the muscles relax, and then start up again. The number of reps of any one move you can do between cramps is the best indicator of progress, and over-stressing hand muscles is a move back. Guys who work with tools, heavy impact, and hard hand muscle usage are a different category and have conditioned their hands over a period of hard work. The level you indicate is about the same as mine is now. I won't win any arm wrestling contests with my carpenter neighbor, but when we shut down in a handshake, I can make him raise an eyebrow - sometimes both of them I'm 68, he's 30.
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Old November 4, 2001, 08:48 PM   #4
Barn Dog
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One of my old wrestling coaches in high school said squeeze a tennis ball every day, 365 days a year. We had guys that could hurt you just by grabbing your arm. Good Luck, Barn.
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Old November 4, 2001, 09:36 PM   #5
C.R.Sam
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Balls, plier lookin spring thingy and dryfire with weight added to gun. Also use bungee......hold down with one hand and pull up with the other. Plus a lot of other stuff but those seem the best for giving a steady hold.

Sam
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Old November 4, 2001, 10:06 PM   #6
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What do you eat to give you hard rubber balls?
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Old November 4, 2001, 10:39 PM   #7
C.R.Sam
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Tires
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Old November 4, 2001, 11:11 PM   #8
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You can always...uh...we better not go there!
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Old November 4, 2001, 11:32 PM   #9
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Yes John, there is a lot of potential!!

When you can switch from left to right and right to left and PICK up a stroke, your can handle a gun with no problem.
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Old November 4, 2001, 11:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
What do you eat to give you hard rubber balls?
Quote:
Tires
LMAO!

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Old November 4, 2001, 11:39 PM   #11
garrettwc
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Jorah, the "nutcracker" grip strengtheners will help the grip on your nonfiring hand and the overall grip for your shooting hand. They will not isolate your trigger finger which is usually where you will see the most gains, especially if you shoot DA a lot.

Go to your local music store and ask the guitar guys about a finger exerciser. It is a springloaded device with individual levers for each finger. They are available in different weights depending on what your current strength is and are small enough to carry in your coat pocket.

Practice holding it and only moving your trigger finger. This will build the strength you need to pull through until the trigger breaks without disturbing the sights.

That is why you are seeing diminshed results after the first 20-30 rounds. The finger muscle gets exhausted and the rest of the hand/wrist muscles contract to help pull the trigger. This contraction causes the front sight to move.
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Old November 4, 2001, 11:41 PM   #12
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When I pee, I alternate hands taking it out...also does wonders for my biceps.....
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Old November 5, 2001, 02:38 AM   #13
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With guns its not just your hands you're worried about, Forearms and even shoulder and upper back play a part. Work out harder, but if you really want hand strength, build something. There is no better forearm exercise in my opinion than swinging a hammer day after day. I've swung a few. Some others I like are maintaining shooting stances and going from low ready to on target with a 25lb dumbbell. Keeping that locked out gets fun after a few seconds.
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Old November 5, 2001, 01:06 PM   #14
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Finger tip pushups. Start out on your palms until you get used to the pushup part of the exercise. After your comfortable with the pushup exercise get up off of your palms onto your finger tips. At first do only a few at a time until you get used to it. The goal is to strengthen your fingers, not to break them. START OUT SLOWLY. If it is too difficult initially, start out on your knees. You can work up to getting on your feet as your grip strength increases. Don't over do it. I wouldn't blow a bunch of money on devises, or contraptions for grip strengthening. It's just not worth it when you can do it for free.


Happy shooting
et
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Old November 5, 2001, 02:35 PM   #15
Ryan Meyering
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Strenthening your forearms will build your grip strength. Wrist curls with a barbell work. Put your forearms on a table with your wrists hanging off the end, palms up. Grab a barbell and curl up, keeping forearms on the table and only moving your wrists. Do the same with your palms facing down. Also try hanging while holding onto something overhead; a pullup bar, tree limb, whatever, anything you can wrap your hands around. Inzer sells a great adjustable gripper that's about $30 IIRC at http://www.monstermuscle.com Deadlifts also work great if you really want to get into lifting. There's actually a discussion forum on grip strength that I have a link to at my computer at home; if you want the link, e-mail me at ryan_meyering@hotmail.com and I'll send it to you from home.

Ryan
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Old November 5, 2001, 03:05 PM   #16
Ben Shepherd
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Waltherp99, I didn't know about that, I'm gonna go get one.


Something else closely related:
For strength holding my arms out at full length, I do shoulder raises 2X weekly. 4 sets of eight reps. 1 set each: 15-20-25-30lb. dumbells. I do this as part of my wheight lifting routine, not just for gun control. I consider exellent OVERALL phisical conditioning very important. This excersize REALLY helps with keeping my scoped 9 1/2" SRH steady when trying to take 100-150yrd shots without any kind of rest. That is one heavy pistol.
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Old November 5, 2001, 09:50 PM   #17
Jorah Lavin
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Thanks, folks. I really appreciate the advice

and even the jokes were better than I feared... "Tires" indeed!

I like the idea of the various-size balls, I'll try that one. Hammers? Been there, done that. Wrasslen' a worm-drive saw for 4 years will build ya up tough, too... I was a carpenter at the end of the eighties/early 90s, and while I had an amazing grip, I also had blown-out elbow... I guess I'm just built delicate.

I've got one of those "Bowflex" machines in next to my reloading bench. Guesss I'd better dust it off and set it up. Gotta be careful, though... at 41 I've got the body of an eighty year old... old sins coming back to haunt me. Crushed disk in my neck, bad knees, bad elbows, cancer surgery... sheeesh. I look like I was "drug behind the horse."

Walosi, your story is truly inspiring. Thanks for taking the time to write, and glad you are back on your feet.

Thanks again, all.

-J.
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Old November 5, 2001, 10:51 PM   #18
MeekAndMild
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25 pound dumbells? Finger tip pushups? Give the guy a break! After years of sedentary lifestyle his tendons are just waiting to pull right off the bones!

Jorah IMHO you're not ready for the bowflex eithet. Try to start doing endurance exercises, like 30 repetitions raising the arms forward and up over the head then to the side and over the head, curls, and straight up lifts standing then lying on the back with a 2 to 5 pound weight or even a can of soup to start with. Don't lift anything you can't do 30 times at an extra slow pace, then after a few minutes rest can repeat the entire exercise group.

You are looking for endurance rather than strength. Endurance is low weight and high reps.
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Old November 6, 2001, 05:28 AM   #19
C.R.Sam
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Easy, portable, small. Bungee bout a foot long relaxed. Hold one end near belt and bring other hand up to sighting level. Hold steady for a comfortable time while sighting over a finger or knuckle at light switch, telly or whatever. Ease it down. Point straight forward for some, out to the side for some. Do both sides evenly. Work up slowly. Time the holds.

Use same bungee between the hands to slowly do stretching excersises in as many positions as you can imagine. Simple little bungee can give a pretty good upper body workout.

Tension lower body....toes, calves, thighs, buttocks, belly etc while doing this and you have bungee tai chee. If eating Cheetos while doin this you get Cheeto bungee tai chee. Or a divorce.

Again same bungee...sitting....hold one end down with foot while stretching it with trigger fingers.....trigger fingers plural. Excercise bith hands equally.

Sam
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Old November 6, 2001, 10:15 AM   #20
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Silly putty. Remember that stuff? I have a "wad" of it about the size of a baseball. Squeeze it while sitting in fornt of the Boob Toob 'til I can't any more. Usually I can go about an hour or so with each hand.
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Old November 6, 2001, 11:28 PM   #21
Jorah Lavin
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M&M, you have it right.

I've learned enough (even I can learn something if there is enough pain) to know not to over-do it. The bowflex has 5-pound and 10-pound bows, so I can start slow and easy.

Stole my wife's 5 pound hand dumbbell, going to do wrist work with that while I'm driving.

Lots of good ideas here... this thread is a "keeper."
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Old November 7, 2001, 02:37 AM   #22
Jim March
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Sell the car, buy a motorcycle!

I don't mean that as snide as it sounds. The clutch on the left hand and the front brake on the right are a solid workout, as it supporting your own weight under hard braking.

During the first year, your anal muscles will get a good workout too .
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Old November 8, 2001, 09:16 PM   #23
cowpuncher/pi
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Try the grippers from [url]www.ironmind.com Start with the Trainer
and work your way up. There is only one man in the world that
can work the no. 4.

Watch your top knot!
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Old November 9, 2001, 08:26 AM   #24
zxc
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Hand Ex

As Physical Therapist--we were taught the SAID principle: Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands..something like that..in addition to the above exercises, heft that gun up there and hold her steady. Muscle memory and that stuff! YMMV

Last edited by zxc; November 9, 2001 at 08:48 AM.
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Old November 9, 2001, 08:35 AM   #25
zxc
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Got me thinking

for the hands- Id start with the buttocks, then lower / upper back,abdominals, shoulders/ neck and then the arm/forearm..its a chain you know...what im really thinking is --get the wholebody in shape not just your hands.

check with your MD,for discussion purposes only,YMMV.etc.etc..
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