John Brookfield's Grip Tips
By John Brookfield
Author of Mastery of Hand Strength, Revised Edition, Training with
Cables for Strength, The Grip Master’s Manual, and Real-World Conditioning
Plate Toss with Partner
Here is a new game that I've been doing for a while now that is both fun and challenging, which is usually the formula for success when it comes to producing great results. Years ago I saw an article from an old-timer talking about tossing kettlebells back and forth from one person to one another as a great way to develop a tremendous grip. I had heard that it was not only done by the old-time strongmen in the vaudeville era, but also done by the Russians for a long time.
A couple of years ago I saw a Russian circus in which two strongman jugglers were tossing a kettlebell back and forth and catching it by the handle. This got me to thinking; however at the time, I didn't have any kettlebells. I now have two heavy kettlebells of 100 pounds and 150 pounds that I've been working with in various ways.
But before this, I came up with the bright idea of tossing weight plates back and forth. I knew that they would be harder to catch and an even better exercise. Well, if you know me by now, you also know that shortly after that, I put this idea to use. I was used to catching plates and block weights by tossing them from hand to hand, but this time they were going to travel a little farther. I started this by having someone toss a 25-pound plate to me, then a 35-pound plate, and finally a 50-pound plate. I was able to catch them all. This movement really enhanced the explosive strength of my hand. I suggest that if you are a grip enthusiast, you try it too.
Here is how to safely do the exercise. If you do it properly, there is no danger at all, only results and fun. Start with a 25-pound plate, smooth or lipped, making sure that your plate is fairly blunt and not sharp or jagged. Find a partner with a good grip or someone who is willing to toss the plate to you. If the other person can catch the plate also, it adds to the fun.
However, when I use the 50-pound plate, my partner strictly tosses it to me with both hands. Also, remember you toss, or have the plate tossed, to the side, not directly at you or your partner. This is obviously done so the plate will not hit either of you. Also, if you can't hold the plate, it falls to the ground, not on your feet.
Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart with your knees slightly bent. Stand a few feet from your partner to start and then increase the distance as you can. Your left shoulder faces your partner's left shoulder and you're looking in opposite directions. While holding the plate with your right hand, toss it across your body and in front of his body in front of him so he can grasp it with his right hand and then return it the same way so you can catch the plate with your right hand. Continue to repeat the process. Also, be sure to try it left-handed to develop equal strength.
Remember to start with a 25-pound plate and progress as you can. Good luck and good tossing.
Editor's note: John Brookfield’s books Mastery of Hand Strength, Revised Edition, The Grip Master’s Manual, Training with Cables for Strength, and Real-World Conditioning combine John’s limitless creativity with his friendly, downhome manner. John’s articles are also regularly featured in MILO: A Journal for Serious Strength Athletes.
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