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
Swing and Catch
Here is a Grip Tip that is highly challenging as well as productive. It is particularly good because this exercise can be practiced at any level with several variations. The movement also dates back to the old-time strongman and barbell era and is one that many of you may have never seen before. The swing and catch was originally used with kettlebells; however it can also be done with dumbbells or weight plates. Weight plates are my favorite because of their challenging nature, and I have been using both plates and kettlebells for this movement.
I have recently acquired two kettlebells. One is 100 pounds with a thick handle, and the other is a huge 150-pound kettlebell, also with a thick handle. Both of these bells also have very slick handles with no traditional knurling to help you hold onto them.
To start, let's look at the easiest way to do this exercise, which is with a kettlebell. You can also use a regular dumbbell. Start by holding the bell with one hand, with your knees slightly bent and your feet about shoulder-width apart. Remember at all times to keep the bell between your legs when in the starting position and swing the bell in the middle of your body so that it finishes between your legs.
Once the bell is in this position, swing or pull the bell upward to chest-level or even slightly higher, your arm almost straight out. Once the bell gets to around chest-level, let go of it and quickly grab it with the other hand and let it swing back down between your legs. Now pull it back to chest-level with that hand and let go and grab it with the other hand. Continue to repeat swinging and catching the bell until you fatigue. You will have to find the right weight through experimentation.
The other object to swing is the weight plate, which is much more challenging for the simple fact that there is no handle to grab. Instead the plate must be lifted, swung, and caught in a pinch grip. Start the same way by pinch-gripping the plate, lifting it between the legs, and swinging it to chest-level, letting go and grabbing the plate with the other hand in a pinch-grip; then swing the plate and catch with the other hand, and continue swinging and catching the plate until fatigued.
I suggest doing these exercises outside for safety's sake. I like to use a 50-pound plate for the swings; however you must decide what is best for you through your own trial and error. Good luck and good swinging.
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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