This is going to be the first entry in my “how to” series. I will be writing many how to guides in the future, hopefully answering a lot of the questions that the reader of this blog have. Today I’m going to be showing you how to improve your grip strength.
Grip strength is so important, not just for weight training but for many sports like rock climbing, MMA, wrestling, powerlifting, strongman etc. Good grip strength is essential for all weight trainers, and there are some good exercises available that will help you increase your gripping power!
Just like any other muscle group, progressive training will build not only forearm size by increase grip strength. The main mistake many lifters make is overtraining the forearms. The forearms are used in so many other exercises, which means they are often stressed too often. Large muscle groups should only be trained once epr week for growth, but smaller muscle groups can be hit more than once. Forearms, like abs and calves, can be hit twice a week. In a lot of cases, you’ll find that even when you’re strictly hitting them only once per week, they’re really getting hit twice because they’re used on your back, leg and bicep days. This is why I only recommend you isolate the forearms once per week for the optimal growth.
Grip strength myth:
Back in the 60s and 70s “grippers” became very popular.
Many people believed that you could sit in front of the TV with one of these and squeeze it a couple of hundred times a day and you’d improve your grip strength and build popeye-like forearms. Nothing could be further from the truth, your forearms need progressive overload just like any other muscle group to grow bigger and stronger.
Exercises that will improve grip strength:
There are some exercises that you can do to increase your grip strength. If you have a “gripper”, trash it. All you need is some simple gym equipment!
Nothing is better for grip strength than picking up a heavy weight and holding for extended periods of time. Deadlifts naturally improve your grip strength.
Pull ups (or chin ups) are another exercise that will naturally build your forearm muscles and grip strength. You can increase the work on your forearms by wrapping a towel around the bar. The towel is not naturally gripped and it makes the bar thicker, this makes your forearms work much harder.
Like I said above, no special gear required to improve grip strength! Get 2 weight plates and stand them up, grip them from the top with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other. Pick them up and hold as long as possible. Wait one minute, and repeat.
One of the oldest and best wrist exercises. Grab a weight, a thin rope and a round piece of wood (like a thick broom handle). Attach the rope to the middle of the wood and tie it to the weight at the other end. Hold your arms out straight in front and wrist the weight up and back down. Make sure you do full twists! See the pic below of a home made wrist roller:
Simple and easy. Grab the dip belt, add some weight and hang from a bar for as long as possible. You can increase the effectiveness by adding a towel to the bar, or hanging from a thicker bar. Make sure you use a grip where your thumb is under the bar, not above.
Like I said, improving grip is about overloading. All those exercises I just mentioned allow you to increase the weight, it’s all about progression – just like every other muscle group! If you have any other ways you can increase grip strength post them in the comments below!