Feedback and Kroc Rows

I received the following e-mail from Heidi, one of the owners of Amarillo Strength and Conditioning (aka CrossFit Amarillo);

I just had to write you to report what has transpired at our gym in the few days following your 70s Big Workshop. Despite the fact that only a fraction of our athletes were in attendance, word spread like wildfire concerning the importance of strength training. Even though we preach this message to our athletes on a daily basis, I think it took someone else to walk in and bring some credibility to our rant. Anyhow, in the last two days we have had some deep discussion about strength training on our blog. Damn near every person at our gym (except for a handful) has decided to begin Starting Strength or your old WFAC CrossFit Program (we dub "S&C" – we always give you credit). Males and Females alike are finally starting to get it! I just wanted to let you know that your workshop was quite effective at informing folks about the importance of strength work, as well as, dispelling the myths associated with strength work. We would recommend that any gym would benefit from hosting a 70's Big Workshop.

Thanks again,

Heidi Coffman
CrossFit Amarillo
Amarillo Strength and Conditioning

If you live in the Amarillo area, I’d check out this gym. The members are all pals and the place had a great atmosphere. Quite a few of the coaches have also attended Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength Seminar, and that means they are quite learn-ed in this kind of stuff.


My buddy Mike has been training for years by himself, whether it be when he was deployed to Afghanistan or when he was stationed in England. One thing is for sure; he did a lot of Kroc rows. He wanted to add to the grip discussion since he has pretty decent grips attached to his monkey arms. Bur first, here’s a little vid on what Kroc rows are all about:

We mentioned Kroc rows the other day, but I think they’re worth mentioning again. I always found the most benefit from doing one set to failure with straps. If you look at what Kroc does on his heaviest set, he is using straps, and going all out until there is nothing left. Is there a sufficient amount of body English? Yes. However the point here is to train until failure and increase the number of reps and/or weight every time you do them. Some might say the straps are counterproductive, and to them I pose this question; is being able to do a set of Kroc rows with 100 for a strict set of 8 sans straps more impressive and beneficial to your grip, or is a set of 125 for 15 reps? I guarantee that you won’t achieve the same amount of fatigue in your grip or forearms as you would doing the higher weight and reps.

I would say that Kroc rows would need to be programmed into your training at the end of your session when you aren’t pulling during the following 48 hours and it is preferable to have a few days of rest afterwards. A high intensity set of Kroc rows will be draining, but they are very beneficial to a stronger grip.

I also like to use the Captains of Crush grippers — I recently let Brent borrow these, and I am also interested to see how they help his predicament. First of all, using these grippers is not like sitting on your couch using the “grip tools” you find laying around most “fitness facilities.” These are the real deal. Don’t believe me? There are RECORD BOOKS for the two highest grippers. Using these grippers will definitely develop brutal crushing strength, and certainly assist in your ability to hang onto the bar during heavy pulls. When I started, I could close the trainer and the number 1. The number 2 was so hard for me initially I scoffed at it and focused on increasing my reps on the number 1. However, I eventually was able to close the number 2, and I could rep it out a few times. I believe these also took my grip strength to another level. Before using them I recall rack pulling in the low 500’s and having some grip issues after a couple reps. After using them for a few months I had no problem in the low 500’s, up until about 550-560. I was also told that my hand shake felt a lot more powerful. I think it would be generally agreed upon that someone who is 70’s Big undoubtedly should have an overpowering handshake.

43 thoughts on “Feedback and Kroc Rows

  1. for me, i think kroc uses straps because he doesn’t do em for gripz. find his interview about kroc rows and he only said that they helped him on lockouts. maybe for a trainee with a weaker grip, this would definitely help

  2. A strong handshake is most definitely 70’s big. However, ALL men, even 90s small should have a strong handshake, none of the limp wrist-ed wet noodle crap, I was raised to shake someones hand when I met them for the first time, and to make damn sure to make it firm.

    Kittensmash, I assume you are squeezing tennis balls before bed to aid your grip strength…right?

    Or perhaps…. a shake weight?

  3. on my deadlift warmups I alway use a hook grip but I go neutral for my work sets. Is it ok to try and get as many reps as I can with a hook grip on my work sets (which would probably be 2 maybe 3) then switch to neutral to finish them?

    DLs with a DOHG don’t demonstrate anything except a good hook grip. The point of DLs is to pull a bunch of weight off the floor and get strong doing it. As a practical concern, you should pull your warmups with a double-overhand grip (no hook) until you need grip enhancement (alt, hook, stickum, tacky, nails, etc.).


  4. OK I am not sure if I read Mike’s blurb right or not; he is saying its better to do a set at 125 for 15 strapped than a sat at 100 for 8 right?

    Anyhow, yeah weak handshakes suck. When I give a hand shake i usually try to fold the persons hand in half, unless its a girl then i just give a nice hard squeeze. But on the subject of girls handshakes, guys teach your gals how to do it. There is nothing more retarded than shaking a womans hand and feeling a dead lifeless fleshy arm flapping in your hand.

  5. Haha I just posted this the other day on the first grip article that I like watching the nancy guys that my girlfriend’s friend date wince when I shake their hands.

  6. A firm handshake is key. It is the first impression somebody usually gets of you. Do you want them to think of you immediately as a strong and confident individual or as a lifeless, weak, pussypants?

  7. Stonewall, if they go limp, they’re expecting you to gently take their hand and kiss it. That might be true for dudes, too, but don’t indulge them unless they’d “whack” you if you didn’t.

  8. I honestly don’t know how men still give weak handshakes these days. It’s ridiculous. Surely they must have heard from somewhere how to do it. Even ’90s Small guys, just fake it; even if you don’t know why you’re doing it, just do it (I don’t know why I’m typing like I’m talking to anybody here).

  9. Just bought Wendler’s 5-3-1 Ebook. He has a couple nice words for high rep DB rows. I think he recommends staying below total failure, but the message is pretty much the same.

  10. There are actually three categories of handshakes. If you think there are only two then you are probably in the third. The limp shake, the firm shake, and the A-hole shake. As previously discussed, there is something irritating about the limp shake. The firm shake exudes confidence. The A-hole shake, i.e. absolutely crushing a potential friend’s hand, says, “I don’t have confidence, but I want you to think I do.” Unfortunately, for those who practice this particular shake technique, most people won’t think this. It reminds me of my roommate who spent half an hour yesterday cutting the arms off his t-shirt and then cutting slits down the sides before he went to the gym so he could, “Show off his lats.” The moral of this story: don’t be a jerk.

  11. The A-hole shake can be used if you want to convey that you hate somebody’s guts and will destroy them if you must. Like, say, when you meet your little sister’s boyfriend or something.

  12. CoC’s are fun, I just never really figured out where to put them into my schedule. I guess I should take a page from Gant’s playbook and do it “on the way to the water fountain.” I have a trainer and a #1. Just checked, and I can squeeze the #1 shut easily with my right (dominant) hand, but barely close it with my left. Looks like I have a weakness to address.

  13. after fixing my DL form I DOHG’d 255 for 5. Felt pretty good. I’m encouraged because I was pulling 310 with horrible form. Now that my form is great, I’m expecting big numbers in the coming months.

    Justin, we all know how one should eat to become an adultmale, but what does your diet look like for somebody who is maintaing (if you even are) ?

    I still want to gain between 10-25 pounds so this doesn’t concern me, I was just thinking it would be something to write about?

  14. Just to clarify I don’t do the A-hole shake. Those guys are just that big of Nancy’s. Unless of course it’s in a scenario like gzt describes. Haha.

  15. It seems that the sizes aren’t the same. or I buy t-shirts where 90’small people can fantasize about being big. But you Americans are of course bigger in general to the Norwegian population, much bigger.

    But I am not a full size man yet either.
    180 cm
    83 kg

    So it is my fault.

  16. Hell yeah Real Scots, I attribute my mildly impressive grip to intense shake weight training.
    wait, did you say you’ll only kiss a dudes hand if he will whack you? I’m not understanding this. But kind of scared anyways.

  17. kitten: The implication was, like, a Godfather-esque thing. You know, you’re supposed to kiss the Godfather’s hand, and he’ll kill you if you don’t.

  18. I disagree with most of that. Doing 125 with straps won’t make your grip stronger than doing 100 without. And while a firm handshake is good, an overpowering one just means you’re a douche. Also grippers are OK but not really that great for holding strength. Weighted hangs on the pullup bar are better IMO.

  19. So would one incorporate kroc rows in an intermediate program? Use them on light days, intensity days, volume days in the Texas Method? Use them on upper body days in the Split method?

  20. Captains of Crush are great. I let students who work for me go home early if they can close 1.5 or 2. It’s my way of showing I care.

    How about the 5 minutes from Robb Wolf today?

  21. Justin, those grips look pretty sweet, I may have to get some of them. What level would you suggest a 17-year-old guy who weighs about 175 (I know, I know, I’m working on it) and does his deads at 255 x 5 purchasing? I have scrawny forearms (though I don’t think they’re especially weak, just scrawny), and I realize putting on mass is the best option for increasing their strength. But what, like a level 2 ish?

  22. @Jake

    Thanks man, I didn’t even notice the #s, I just saw the second one listed said “for high school athletes”, but that one wasn’t even numbered…maybe I’ll order the 1.5, b/c $20 (plus shipping) is pricey for a hand gripper already, there’s no way I’m gonna drop $40 on this. Have you used these before?

  23. @Domjo,
    If you’re gettin some COC’s get the Trainer as well, and maybe even the Sport. The 1 and 1.5 may surprise you, and the Sport and the Trainer will allow you to warm up to the 1 and 1.5 also.

  24. @Domjo,
    at 17 and 175, I’d say that starting at the 1.5 will be difficult. The lighter Sport, Trainer and #1 will be a worthwhile investment I think. For one, I think the #1 and #1.5 will surprise you with their difficulty, and two, if nothing else they will atleast allow for good warm ups.

  25. @domjo, sorry for the triple post. But the absolute best thing you could do is just keep lifting and growing. Grip will come. But if your dead set on getting some grippers I wouldn’t get just a 1.5.

  26. I have a trainer, a #1, and #1.5. Probably gonna be ordering a #2 soon. But like I said, for a kid your age
    and size and I imagine limited funds, your energy is probably best devoted to just eating and lifting right now. The grip will sort itself out.

  27. I feel like I’m missing out…are Kroc Rows “just” high-rep, heavy DB rows?

    I’m not concerned about what they’re intended to work on, I just want to know if they’re different from the DB Rows I’ve been doing…other than Kroc is using about twice as much weight…

  28. OK, I didn’t realise these were the Kroc rows everyone’s talking about.

    I used to do these a couple of years ago in a gym I used to go to. I got up to 75kg DBs (165 lbs) for 3 sets of 20 (with straps). They didn’t have bigger bells so I didn’t continue and my current gym has no DBs over 50kg, so useless for this purpose.

  29. For those of you who may be interested in purchasing grippers, I strongly recommend the following store:

    It is owned by Wade Gillingham, one of the coolest, most friendly guys you will ever deal with.

    Not to mention, he has great prices and the fastest, cheapest shipping on the net.

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