Random thoughts on strength training @$HOME

Monday, June 29, 2009

#14 Interview with Gabriel Sum

The first time I saw Gabriel Sum was about six weeks ago on youtube.com while searching for feats of grip strength. At the age of only 22, Gabriel is hunting for international titles and making his way to the international elite of grip strength athletes - at least I'm pretty sure he will make it.

He's the reigning champion of the german grip championship 2008/2009, runner-up of the european grip championship 2008, the winner of the Hahnenbacher Grip challenge 2009 and a certified Captain of Crush #3 ,#3.5 and RB330N.

If you've never heard of him, check out his channel and you will know why I was thrilled as he agreed to be interviewed. Perhaps you will be suprised too when you hear that he's a student of music.

The interview was done via E-Mail in german and I translated it into english as good as possible.

Have fun!

Marc: What is your first memory regarding grip strength training? How did you get involved with it and how long do you practice it?

Gabriel: My first experience with grip strenght was a video on youtube.com with Magnus Samuelsson called "world stongest arms". There I've seen the Ironmind Gripper for the first time. It fascinated me instantly. I googled and came across the website of Hermann Korte. There I bought the CoC #1 which I could close straightaway. Shortly after, I bougth CoC #2 which I could close straigthaway too and so I was gripped by grip strenght fever. I practice regularly and seriously since Septmeber 2007. Before that it was more playing around without a system until I realised that you can do grip strenght exercises as a sport. In addition, the "potato scene" from the Jack London movie "The Sea-Wolf" always impressed me.

Marc: What motivates you to practice regularly?

Gabriel: I'm aware that I am "genetically gifted" for having strong hands. That fuels my ambition. My goal is to close the CoC #4, at least from the deep set. I know it's feasible and I know I can do it if I keep on training. Another point is that grip strenght training is so varied like no other kind of training so it never gets boring.

Marc: How does your current training schedule look like?

Gabriel: I don't have a definite training schedule. Between my training days there are always at least 4 days of rest. In my opinion the main exercises are gripper, pinch and fatbar. Amongst those, grippers rank first. Like I said, I train intuitively instead of following a plan. A rough pattern can be recognised: I train deep sets and wide sets in equal measure, because both are very important. I alternate them on the single training days, start with heavy work / low reps and progress to lighter work with more reps.

Marc: How do you avoid injuries? Looking back,what mistakes have you done in training?

I often got injured when I started training because I did too much, especially as I started with Fatbar and Pinch. My hands got no chance to fully recover. I worked out with hands still sore, that really set me back in my training with grippers. I realised this problem rather late and found my "rythm" in late 2008. To be fully recovered is really important if you want to avoid injuries and make progress. Don't train your hands two days in a row, at least don't do it actively on the second day. Add some good nutrition and lots of sleep to your schedule.

Marc: Did you have a Mentor?

Axel Hoffmann, the german seller of the Robert Baraban products and a really good grip strength athlete, showed me how to set a gripper right and gave me lots of good tips. I really appreciate what he has done for me. Additionally, I got lots of good advice by members of the gripboard forum and users of youtube.com. I'd like to use this opportunity to thank all those guys.

Marc: Do you work out at home, in a commercial gym or in some kind of club? What's the advantage of your choice?

During the week I work out at home. On the weekends I work out at the home of my workout buddy. There we can focus on training without getting distracted like it often happens when you work out in a commercial gym. Especially when training grip I think it's very important not to get distracted while doing those short full-bore reps. Working out with a buddy can be a great advantage because you can push each other more as if you were alone.

What are your current feats and which feats are you working on?


  • not in contest: RB330 90 kg = 3.82 (deep set)
  • in contest: CoC #3.5 rating 3.75
  • Rolling Thunder: 97.5 kg
  • Appolon's Axle: 172.5 kg
  • Europinch: 101 kg
  • Pinchblock: 110 kg
My long term goal is - of course like with most other guys - closing the CoC #4, at least from a deep set.

Marc: What would you recommend to beginners?

Gabriel: Don't overdo it. Your hands need to adapt to the stress. Start with light weights and high-rep work to build a solid basis of strength and avoid injuries. Grippers are perfect for this. I recommend not to use Fatbar when you are a beginner. Get enough rest. Don't train through the pain!

Marc: Do you work out with kettlebells?

No, but I'm interested in them. Right now I don't have enough space left.

Marc: There's a fan community rising around your youtube channel. Do you use youtube for finding sponsors?

No, and to be honest I never thought of this - until now.

Marc: Please name three songs that can always be found on your playlist while working out.

While working out I don't listen to music most of the time. But I found for me that listening to aggressive music sometimes boosts my efforts. When I'm listening to music, then most of the time it's heavy metal stuff - especially Children Of Bodom.

Marc: Besides strength training, what are your hobbies?

I like making music, beeing with my girlfriend, riding a bike, playing volleyball and swimming.

Marc: What contests do you want to join in the near future?

There's a grip meeting at Hermann Korte october 2009 which I'd like to join. And of course the german and european grip championship 2010.

What novel would you read a second time? What specialised book?

Reading is not really one of my hobbies. But I like Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck very much. A specialised book I like reading again is Captains of Crush Grippers: What They Are and How to Close Them.

What makes you happy?

Gabriel: My girlfriend makes me happy.

Thanks again Gabriel for taking the time to answer my questions!

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