Grip Strength is one of the most fundamental aspects of Fitness. Increasing numbers at the gym as well as increasing general health can be attributed to a strong grip. Almost every lift will require some sort of grip strength and various sports, from swimming, to football, to boxing, all involve the grip. Developing your grip strength can greatly enhance various aspects of your life, including your athletic performance
As you may have experienced if you have attempted to lift heavy weights, a weak grip can inhibit your ability to execute the lift, even if your bigger muscle groups are able to move the weight. To ensure this doesn’t happen, I have put together a quick background on what “Grip Strength” is and how to strengthen your grip so you can start lifting heavier and increasing your performance in all aspects of fitness.
To begin, there are 3 grip categories:
Crush grip is the type of grip used when something is placed between your palm and fingers. You use this grip on the monkey bars, while shaking someone’s hand, holding heavy dumbbells or barbells, and in various other situations.
To increase your Crush grip:
Get Captains of Crush Grippers – these are widely referred to as the gold standard of grip strength with grippers that vary in weight and will help build immense grip strength quickly.
Towel Pull-ups – wrap a towel around a pull-up bar and hang from a towel. You can do a variety of different pull-ups as well as change the towel you’re using to make it more or less challenging depending on what type of towel it is.
Barbell Finger Curls – holding a barbell on the last ⅓ of your fingers, slowly roll your fingers grabbing more and more of the barbell while wrapping your hand around it, squeeze for a second and then slowly unroll the barbell until it is back on your fingertips.
Support Grip is more endurance related. This grip is defined by the time able to hang or hold onto a weight for extended periods of time, such as a dead hang from the pullup bar, a farmer’s carry, carrying groceries, etc.
To increase Support Grip Strength:
Dead hang from Pull-up Bar – Start with short bursts of however long you can manage to hang, slowly increase the time or add some weight to progress. The longer you can hang, the better. The more added weight you can hold, the better.
Farmers Carry – Grab the heaviest pair of dumbbells or kettlebells you can and walk a set distance. Once the distance/weight you are using isn’t challenging anymore, increase the weight and try again. (You can also increase the distance you are walking)
Pinch Grip is the strength between the tips of your 4 fingers and thumb. Throwing objects, opening lids, rock climbing or things of that nature all involve the pinch grip
To increase Pinch Grip Strength:
Plate Pinch – Grab the thickest weight plate you can and grip it between your fingertips and thumb holding for as long as you can.
Going back to the Captains of crush grippers, if you try squeezing only using your fingers and thumb instead of placing the grippers inside your palm specifically working the pinch.
Realistically, anything you can grab while maintaining just the pinch grip to hold onto the
the object will work and strengthen your grip. As long as you provide some resistance
you can count on your pinch grip getting better the more you use it.
How do I incorporate grip training into my everyday life?
Most of these suggestions are fairly simple things to do, but if you want to increase your grip strength outside of the gym, here are a couple ways to do so.
If you are ever carrying something, see how little contact you can have with the object while still being able to carry it from Point A to Point B. For example if you are asked to take the trash bags out to a bin, see how few fingers you can use to hold onto the bag and carry it to the trash bin. If you are carrying an object a certain distance, hold onto it for a couple more seconds before you set it down just to test and challenge yourself.
A similar approach is to grab appropriate objects with a pinch grip instead of the way you would normally grab the object. For example, if you normally grab a pot or pan with the assistance of your palm, simply grab the handle using only your fingertips and thumb (ideally the pan is empty and not yet filled as that may require you to grab a mop, which would then give you another opportunity to try and grab the mop handle with just your fingertips and thumb).
Just like anything, reps are king. The heavier you lift, the more you rely on your grip, and the stronger your grip will get. You can do Barbell Holds in a squat rack with a heavier weight on the barbell than you would deadlift, but since you only have to lift it an inch or so off the rack, you can safely hold heavier weight and develop pure grip strength so that as you progress in a lift you will be able to hold the heavyweight through the whole movement.
Lastly, finish your workout with a dead hang for however long you can handle. Slowly increase time and weight to make this simple practice more challenging. (You can make deadhangs, or really any movement that requires you to hold onto a bar, more challenging by using Fat Gripz which will increase the size handle and make it far more challenging to hold onto)
Now that you have the most basic information, along a few movements that will help increase your grip, make sure to incorporate your new knowledge into your workouts at the gym, or into small habits outside the gym. All these practices will help you with what is really the biggest benefit of a strong grip… a firm handshake. Make sure to add some variety into your training routine as the body adapts to the stressors we place on it. This means that changing up what you do to stress your grip will help you build immense strength in your hands and forearms.
A strong grip is key to a strong body!