This type of training had many names, for example, in Okinawan Karate, as a part of “Hojo Undo (supplementary exercises) they are referred to as Nigiri Game, or gripping jars. The fellow above is from 1906, and seems to have things pretty well taken care of in the grip department from using this exercise.
Here’s another amazing feat by Karl Norberg (The Mighty Norseman). Karl is not only lifting a deep-dish 45-pound York Barbell plate by the hub, but also performing a muscle-out with it at chest height. That’s basically TWO World-Class feats performed at the same time. It should be noted that Karl was over 70 years of age when this shot was taken.
In 1896, amateur strength specialist Franz Föttinger of Vienna performed a remarkable feat. He had two large wooden blocks attached to each other with a cord. The lower block also had some additional weights attached to it. On the top of the upper block, an ordinary needle was stuck; less than an inch of needle projected above the wood. Grasping the needle with his thumb and forefinger only, Föttinger managed to lift 28-1/2 pounds in the above manner. Föttinger was 59 years of age at the time and reported that he had been working on this feat for over five years.
The great strongman Gregory Paradise, from Hudson New Hampshire, could perform a middle finger chin up with either arm. Paradise weighed around 120 lbs. and is also one of the few men in history to bent press double bodyweight (he could bent-press over 250 lbs. Paradise was chosen first (out of 25,000 entries) in a contest put on by Earle E. Liederman in 1925, winning himself $1000 and a chauffeur-driven week in New York. Paradise won another mail order contest in 1928, this one held by Professor Titus.
One of the classic classic grip feats was to pick up a York Deep-Dish 45 Pound barbell plate just by the hub, something weightlifting and bodybuilding champ Steve Stanko could do with ease, even with an added 10 pounds. Steve’s best on this feat was with over 90 pounds!
Al Berger was a great strength athlete and classic bodybuilder during the 1940’s. Berger was a very good bodybuilder but was most well-known for his ability to perform incredible feats of strength while “pinch gripping” rafters in his basement. He could do 12 pinch-grip chins on rafters 30-inches apart, 6 with an additional 10-pounds and 1 with an incredible 43 additional pounds. In addition to his pinch-gripping feats, Berger could perform a reverse curl with 165 pounds.
One very interesting exercises for building grip strength is to grasp the opening of a large clay jar with each hand. As you get stronger, simply fill the jar with additional sand or rocks to increase weight to make the movement more difficult. This method is simple, but very effective, and martial artists have been using it for centuries.
A very simple way to build your hand strength is with a simple baseball or softball. This one has been drilled and fitted with an eye-hook which allows weights to be hung from it. It’s a surprisingly effective challenge.
Plenty of people can tear a regulation deck of cards but it’s a whole new ball game with a mini-deck. Dennis Rogers can do this feat with ease, as well he should since his fingers are about as strong as a set of pliers.
At St. Louis Hall in Chicago, Illinois on May 7th, 1896, in front of 1000 spectators, Louis Cyr lifted a 535 lb. weight clear of the floor with one finger. This was just a warmup through, among the other feats performed that day: a “muscle out” with a 131-1/4 lb. dumbbell, held for five seconds at a perfect right angle to the body, then brought back to the shoulder with ease … a one arm press of 258-1/4 lb. dumbbell … shouldering with one hand, a 433 lb. barrel filled with sand and water … pressing a 162-1/2 lb dumbbell overhead 36 times in succession.
“I’ve got more strength in one finger than you have in your whole body!” For most people, such a statement would be mere hyperbole, but in the case of Doug Hepburn it was obviously true. One of Doug Hepburn’s favorite feats was to muscle out a 45-pound plate hanging from his pinky finger — an amazing display of shoulder and grip strength. As evident here, Hepburn could do this with either hand.