Currently, there are just over 100 men on the list of official #3 closers. Included on the list are strong man competitors such as Magnus Samuelsson, The Gillinghams (Brad, Wade, and Karl), powerlifters such as World Record Squat holder Brent Mikeskell, and others unknown to most in the weight game such as John Hicks. What these men on the list have in common is a crushing strength that to most normal people seems out of this world when they try and close a #3 gripper. Most people fail to even make a dent in closing it with both hands and using their whole upper body strength as well!
IronMind actually offers 5 levels of grippers - the Trainer, the #1, #2, #3, and #4. Only one man has officially closed the #4 gripper and that man is Joe Kinney. He closed it back in 1998 and to date no one else has been certified. However, there are a few guys closing in on the #4 such as Heath Sexton and Wade Gillingham. It's also not a given that "just any strong guy" can close a #3 gripper as evidenced a couple years ago when a gripster decided to test some well known bodybuilders and powerlifters at the Arnold Classic. Everyone who tried the #2 failed, with the exception of Manfred Hoeberl (who is a COC), failed to close a #2. So, what does it take to become a COC? What do these men all have in common? Why become a COC? Read on.
Why become a COC? First and foremost, contrary to what some people say, working with grippers alone will build your forearms and hand strength to levels you never thought possible. All one has to do is look at the forearm development of a Captain of Crush and that tells the story. For example, Captain of Crush, Pascal Toussaint. Yes, he is obviously genetically gifted in the forearm development, but he maximized his development by working his grip directly and this meant LOTS of gripper work.
For him, this meant using the KTA Program which is a program I specifically developed after a over a year of experimenting and then testing the program during development on 6 guys who were "guinea pigs". Since releasing the program to the public on January 1, 2003, there's been numerous Captains of Crush who attribute the KTA Program to helping them attain the title. The program challenges the normal paradigms of strength training and is not for the faint of heart or weak of mind. The KTA Program is very radical which is why I believe it helps develop the muscles of the forearm contrary to those who have tried just using grippers and training in the normal strength training paradigms.
Second, it's not a long list for those that have achieved the title of Captain of Crush. The #4 list isn't even a list... it's a single man. Becoming a COC is the passage way to closing the #4. Closing the #4 is the equivalent of attaining the level of a human hydraulic crushing machine! For most people, a Captain of Crush is the equivalent a crushing machine! There is a special satisfaction that is achieved when you mash a #3 and hand it to another person and the Polaroid moment look on their face when they try and close the #3 with the result being it might as well be a brick they are trying to crush. Becoming a COC is more dependent on determination, discipline, and desire than it is bodyweight, muscle size, or genetics. For example, the bodyweight of the current COC's varies from as low as 137lbs to well over 300lbs. Their heights vary from under 5'8 to over 6'5".
How To Train Your Grip
How do most Captains of Crush train their grip? From my observations, most COC's don't let the grippers stray too far from their workouts. You can't become good at closing the grippers without using them. There's no substitute, period. Most COC's are not grip specialists either. Most train their grip as an addition to the main body work horses such as squats, deadlifts, and presses. Most COC's also do other forms of grip work -- from bending steel to pinching plates to wrist work.
Most also are aware that to maximize their crushing strength for the grippers they must specialize to some degree with the grippers alone with the addition of some direct thumb work. The thumb is often neglected in hand strength. Singles are a very popular training regimen for training the grippers. Multiple sets of singles are much more common than typical normal set/rep schemes. As far as training frequency, most train the grippers multiple times per week. In the case of the KTA Program, this means training with the grippers almost every day.
Captain of Crush® John Wood wears his plastic suit to prevent getting soaked as he prepares to blow up a beer can with his hands.
Do I Have What It Takes?
How do you know if you have what it takes to become a COC? You won't know until you start working with the grippers on a consistent basis. A good starting routine would be to train the grippers three times a week and see if you like training with them. If you are like most that start training with the grippers, you will soon find you can't put them down. Then, you will find yourself setting goals for closing the different grippers.
Next you will have a variety of grippers including all the levels offered by Ironmind. New forearm muscle not previously seen will start to pop out on your arms. Will you become a human hydraulic crushing machine? Who knows? You may even become the next man to close the #4 and be viewed as inhuman!
Note: We are not affiliated with IronMind.