Interview with Nathan Holle

2 April 2021 - Ore 17:01

In a period of pandemic that we hope to leave behind as soon as possible, nothing better than a healthy reading to distract us and bring attention to our passions. Grip and Bend Italia once again takes pleasure in the time to interview fans of grip strength. Today I have the pleasure and honor of hosting one of the most powerful hands on the planet, the legendary Nathan Holle!

Hi Nathan and thank you for spending the precious time for GBI followers!

  • Even if many know who you are, we still introduce the interview with a description of you!

Hello Giorgio , thank you for the questions.

I was born in North Wales, in the UK. I currently live in Swansea, South Wales with my wife and seven children. I am the Owner of my Carpentry & Locksmith company. I’m 1.93m tall and currently weight 105kg, over the last few months I’ve been cutting body weight , in an attempt to rebuild leaner. So far I’ve dropped around 20kg.


  • Before we approach the main topic, that of grippers, tell us about your past … were you a guy who has always loved sport in his life or did you prefer laziness?

I have always been interested in sports and related activities. Mainly due to my father who was a weightlifter/power lifter. I’ve been doing some form of training since the age of 8 and more serious weights from around aged 12 onwards.

A young Nathan around the age of twenty who closes a CoC#3.


  • Are there any childhood dreams in your life today that you have managed to achieve?

My main goal has always been to be stronger, which may seem odd to some, but I always believe is achievable.

  • What passions occupy your life beyond training?

Of course my family and family life. Strength history has been an interest of mine from a young age. I still enjoy researching and building my knowledge on all things strength.

  • A predisposed genetics that led you to the strength of the grip, or was it a passion born by chance that of dedicating yourself to Grip Sport?

As mentioned I’ve been training for a long time, including grip training – it was considered safer than squats for example as a young child. When it came to grip I always felt I could give more than 100%, naive probably. Growing up in a large family (one of eight) challenges of strength were always present. From arm wrestling to cracking walnuts etc – this progressed then to challenging each other to lift things around the house, getting more extreme each time! Also from old books showing grip feats and exercises etc. So I would say it was a passion born by chance, which felt like something I should do.

  • Browsing the IronMind site among those who have managed to bend a Red Nail or among those who have officially signed a CoC # 3 is always very motivating. When you look at CoC # 3.5 instead, the anguish begins when you see how few people have managed to close that incredibly hard spring. But looking at CoC # 4 and seeing that only five people have closed it in 23 years, then a depressive phase is inevitable! Among those five names is yours! Damn, how do you get to close that beast? !!! Tell us about your path to IronMind certifications, you started when you were really young, right?

I started using “main stream” grippers in around 1999/2000 and as a familiar story got hooked on them. I couldn’t close the no.2 when I first started, so I naturally ordered a no.3 and no.4, which are still well used – back when they came in a plastic bag! My brothers and I all started using them with varied results, unsure how to use them or train with them as there were no instructions etc, so we set about trialling different methods. I had been training pinch , wrists and thick bar for much longer than this. So had a good base so to start with.

Overtraining worked for a little while, but then the skin on my hands started to fall apart. After a while I honed into the routine I still use today.

I started closing the no.3 so got in touch with ironmind. They found a witness for me to go and certify with. Chris James of Margam, one of the strongest people I’ve ever met, certified me. A super strong and super nice guy. Some of the feats of strengths I’ve seen him do are mind blowing, and glad to say his sons are following in his footsteps.

After more time I started to get the no.4. so arranged to certify.  Ironmind arranged my official attempt and it was done in front of an IWF category 1 weightlifting judge.

On that day I also bent some red nails, but the rules weren’t set at that time – we had our own house rules, which were one continuous attempt and a time limit of 40 seconds. I was outside this time so I didn’t put forward the bend for certification.

  • You have over twenty years of experience with grippers. I’m sure you’ve made a lot of mistakes and spent a really long time figuring out what really worked for you. Looking back today, what would you eliminate from that time? What do you think are mistakes you shouldn’t make when you want to progress in grip strength?

The biggest mistake is overtraining, at one time I was training everyday, which worked but it was too destructive to my hands. The biggest thing I’ve learned and I’ve told people over the years it to be consistent, consistency is the key.

It’s very tempting to train or attempt grip feats on non grip days. Which of course is life and ok normally. But there is more progress to be made being consistent .

Other things I’ve learned is not to get my hands too wet, either a short time before or after training, to avoid skin damage, which is obviously not always avoidable. But with all training, it will take some getting used to. Be patient and sensible in your approach. For example You wouldn’t try juggling chainsaws if you just started juggling.

  • At your levels I suppose you will have known the importance of active and passive recovery to continue on your path of strength. What do you think is important in this regard?

Both. In reality, I much prefer an active recovery, especially for wrists. Where I will use a heavy book and do some over the knee wrists curls to stretch etc.

But of course if you’re injured then for me its rest. I’d then start gently with some resistance training – making a fist and some good stretches.

One Hand Pinch whit two 45 lb plates.


  • Have you always been methodical and calculating in your sporting achievements, or is the desire to break a personal best something that at some point knocked on the door of your passion for strength?

I would say 90% methodical.

On some occasions, when I meet with other grip training or if im attempting a certain feat. I will ease off a one or two sessions and go or it.

Or change my grip session that particular day, still grip on that day but go for a certain feat. For example with grippers, I will try a stack of grippers, instead of regular training.

Or try after my training. Most of the videos I have left of feats I’ve put on YouTube or instagram were done after training.

In my grip training I’m always attempting near my max anyway, so its almost a natural process, if that makes sense.

  • Would you like to share a pattern that you think has always worked well in working with grippers?

With grippers I have found, 3 days per week Which equals to a maximum 36 attempts per hand per week.

I will put my full gripper routine at the end of the questions

  • Each of us takes as a reference a person who deeply inspires their workouts. Who inspired Nathan Holle?

I enjoy and am fascinated by old time strength and what they could do and the way they trained. The same for current times. Inspiration wise, hard to pinpoint one source. But when training with my brothers years ago, motivation was never in short supply.

Thomas Inch 78 kg in the early 2000s.


  • Are your workouts always primarily for grip, or do you prefer to train your body as a whole? Am I wrong, or are you a fan of Oldtime culture?

You are correct I do enjoy the old-time culture. Bent press and dumbbell swings I used to practice quite a lot.

I train 6 days per week.

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are grip and arms.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday are body training.

  • Although your hand is among the strongest ever, what goals keep the fire of your training alive?

After some injuries in recent years and general life – my main goal is to regain my strength back to where I was. From there I hope to put more feats onto platforms like YouTube.

  • We close this interview with some advice on sports life to be left to the reader, what are the commandments for those who want to become strong according to Nathan Holle?

Be sensible in your training, although I would always advocate to train all areas of grip as they all cross over in my opinion. If your aiming for a certain feats then of course gear your training towards that.

Be consistent and strict as best you can.

There are no shortcuts, it will come when it comes.


If you can, train your body also.

Don’t give up, none of us know our potential so always keep going.



Here is my gripper routine:

I train grippers 3 times per week . I don’t really warm up (but if you do , then keep doing so )

I close a no.2 or no.3 to get the clicks out of my hands .


Tuesday 1st session

4-6 attempts at the heaviest gripper you can manage and move after you’ve set the gripper .

Then 4-6 closes/attempts on the heaviest gripper you can close .

Thursday 2nd session 

This is like a light day.

4-6 attempts at a credit card set , or any wider set than regular training. Using the heaviest gripper you can , but after a wide set you need to able to get allot of movement.

The. 4-6 attempts at a wide set with a gripper you can close from the wider set .


3rd session the same as the 1st.



Thanks Nathan for contributing to this valuable interview! See you soon!

                                                                   Giorgio Giannico


Thank you,

Nathan Holle.


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