Review: Scramble Grip Trainer

Ever clinched up with a someone who is a excellent grip fighter in judo or a keen spider-guard player, you’ll probably notice immediately how hard it is to break their grip, these people have obtained it through repeated exposures to sports specific grip challenges. If you desire a strong grip that will help with your sports performance you must do gripping work that is specific to what you want to do. The Scramble grip trainer is a novel tool for those that want to apply or add advanced grip training or variety to their strength training. Scramble kindly sent the grip trainer for me to try out so I’m going to share my impressions.

Your Weakest Link
If you undertake strength training regularly your grip should be fairly strong, but conventional grip training generally is not enough for the BJJ trainer this comes down to one thing. Wrist position, most grip training is done with a neutral wrist position. It’s fairly unrealistic, because we rarely use that position when we’re in situations like grappling or MMA, the chaotic movement of the our opponents means we end up using a number of wrist positions in many various angles and a number of grips. The most common position and movement for BJJ being lateral movement called ulnar deviation.

Ulnar deviation. This is when the little finger bends towards the wrist

Tools like the Grip Trainer, allow users to simulate these positions under load, a useful tool for the tool box. A stronger grip has greater transference to the other training we do as mentioned here.

The grip trainer is solidly built from what looks like a two piece construction, I tested it with a few athletes over a variety of activities, mainly row variations and pulling variations. While the device has no rating for tensile strength, I lifted over 160 kg for a sumo-deadlift (to minimise swing) and rowed in Excess of 120kg using them and they held up. Made from a dark blue Gi material closely resembles the 1chiban Gi sleeves and similar taping and embroidered badge on the sleeve. To close the Grip Trainer around a bar/handle you have to post it through a stiff top loop which has reinforced material around the edges to prevent tearing. The only thing I feel its is lacking is a metal loop for attaching directly to cable pulleys, I had to wrap it around handles which sometimes made the set-up rather long for rowing exercises.


Isolated grip training is best left until the end of a workout. This way you can exhaust your grip and not have it effect the rest of your training. Programming this in is pretty simple you can go for reps, time, or isometric holds. Rowing variations are obviously the easiest place to start. The more tenuous the grip the lower the load, you can probably lift more with a Lapel (ulnar deviated) grip than a pocket grip. You can even work through grip variations from weakest to strongest. Some movements will be more challenging than others.

Here are a few variations I have used in my own accessory work.

Structural Balance
A1 Pendlay Row 3-4 x 10

A2 Facepulls (over hand grip) 3-4 x 12

Pure Grip Strength
A1 Pull-up Isometric Holds (Lapel Grip) 3 x 5

A2 25kg Plate hold for time (pocket grip) (loop gripper through handle) 3 x 30 or 60 seconds

You can also supplant ordinary rowing and pulling work with cycles of grip trainer usage.

Another novel use I found was using it an aid during front squatting often, athletes with flexibility problems or long arms have trouble achieving the “rack” position on a front squat.

A lot of variations to find if you put your mind to it

If you are prone to tendinitis or play a very grip heavy game regularly, careful usage of the Grip Trainer must be taken. Excessive use of grip strengthening devices or exercises involving repetitive squeezing can cause inflammation in the tendons of the hands wrist and forearms. Grips like pocket grips need to be loaded carefully as movements that pry open the hands are generally the roughest on the fingers (and even lift your nails!). As with everything moderation is key, I’m lucky I have athletes to test on, if you pick up one of these plan your usage. You are probably wanting to use it for every variation under the sun but this is an approach bound to back fire. Tendinitis can also be minimised by working often forgotten finger extension.

With near endless variations this is a great piece of kit to have to have in the tool bag. Used intelligently this can be useful to Grapplers/MMA/BJJ athletes looking to build targeted grip strength. Lack of a metal eye/loop means it can’t be attached directly to cable pulleys like similar products can. With simple work around this is not a problem. With no release date yet (soon I’m told) keep an eye on and for more information on price and eventual release.

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