This is a guest post from Larentay Walker of Guts To Rise Above. A website dedicated to fitness and getting the most out of life. In this article Larentay goes into detail about how to develop a strong manly grip. Enjoy.
In the modern 21st century, most people know fitness and health is one of the top requirements for living a good life.
That means working out with free weights, machines, your own bodyweight or whatever type of resistance training you prefer at least 3 – 6 times a week.
You also can’t forget cardio too such as walking, jumping rope, sprints, jogging etc to keep your cardiovascular system efficient.
However, when it comes to developing grip strength for the average trainee, the gym enthusiast to the elites in athletic sports. It’s an afterthought, or it’s never done at all.
A lot of people don’t realize that their grip is the global pathway for every upper body exercise and for the legs too in many exercises or just to get around in the world.
It’s funny that most people go to the gym to get a 6 pack(highly overrated), a sculpted chest, a bigger back, strong legs and so on to have more vigor, better health, and more strength but the hands…the forearms…get put in the closet to be forgotten about or ignored.
You might be thinking “why would I want to devote time to 5% of my body that gets indirect work from holding the weights?” Good question, let me paint a picture for you.
Universal Perspective On The Importance Of Grip Strength
If your grip is a limiting factor, it can slow down your gym gains, limit your reps, how much weight you can handle, cost you a loss, an injury or worse…death.
Well maybe not death, but it increases your odds of it happening if your grip is weak in a dire situation. So hopefully you get the picture of how important it is to develop it. Because weak hands aren’t anything to be proud of.
Think of this picture…your hands and forearms are your most used 35 muscles in the body. They’re involved in sex, in every sport, typing, carrying laundry, turning a steering wheel, and washing your body etc. Everything you literally do starts with your hands.
Food for thought, why would you not want to develop the most used part of your body to be strong and durable to withstand anything it has to deal with in life. Especially, when it comes to developing your body to be as efficiently strong as possible.
Overall Perspective Of What Grip Strength Is
When people think of grip strength, they think of the hands only. However, it comes from more than just the hands. It starts from the elbows down to the end of your fingertips. The reason and logical sense behind this is that the originations the forearm and hand muscles is above the elbow, and when a muscle crosses a joint, it will influence its performance.
From each individual finger, thumb, to the wrist, to front of the forearms and back of the forearms influences how strong your grip will be. So it’s important to maximize every muscle from the elbow down in many different patterns of movement that are performed by the lower arm.
Also, you must ensure you properly train everything almost equally in the lower arm such as the extensors and flexors. Because if you don’t, it can cause inflammation problems such as tendonitis, tendinosis, and epicondylitis due to improper training of the forearms and neglecting certain muscle groups of the hand such as the extensors that open the hand.
How A Powerful Grip Will Benefit You
In the technology world of today, a strong grip is not needed for survival but they’re several reasons behind why a man should seek to possess a formidable grip.
More lifting, pulling and carrying poundage: When you have a strong grip, it will ensure that you’re able to lift, pull, press and carry heavy weight without your grip giving out first. On movements such as deadlifts, pull up variations, loaded carries, row variations etc.
Better Hand Endurance: If you train your hands to be durable and strong, you’ll be able to endure longer work on resistance training, writing, or anything strength endurance wise that is required of your hands. Compared to somebody with weaker hands. You don’t ever want to have your hands be a liability when it comes to strength endurance work.
More Resilience: When a connective tissue or a muscle that is strengthened through vigorous training it is more injury resilient if an injury does end up taking place. You’re more likely to recover faster, so you’re back in the game of resuming daily activities, resistance training, or playing a sport. You’re pretty much less prone to injuries such as a broken bone, sprained wrist, jammed finger, or any type of hand, wrist, or forearm pain.
Stronger Handshake: As men, we’re a judged by our level of strength or how strong we look. It’s just human nature. When you shake another man’s hand, with a strong but firm handshake(not trying to crush the hand). You’re going to be perceived more as trustworthy, confident, dependable, not weak etc. On the other hand, if you present the opposite of a strong grip(weak grip). You will not be perceived well, so it’s important to have decent to a strong grip.
More Presence: What do I mean by a presence, good question. Your forearms are one of the most exposed body parts and developing them will give you an appearance that signifies vigor, masculinity, brute force if need be, gives you a more intimidating appearance to make people think twice about starting a physical confrontation with you and some women find big muscular forearms attractive.
So, that we know there’s more to grip training than just working our hands, we’re going to dive into different variations of developing the hand and forearm musculature into generating tremendous grip strength. Let the fun begin.
Hand Specific Movements For Developing Maximum Grip Strength
There are various ways of developing total grip to where you generating maximum grip force from your finger, wrists, hands, and forearms that is often neglected by the majority of trainees to advance athletes. I’m going to list the different types of grips that you need to develop for maximum grip strength.
Support: Support grip is when the fingers wrap around the bar and you’re squeezing it as hard as you can. Think of deadlifts, barbell rows, or dumbbell curls.
Then there’s open support grip when fingers are wrapped around a bar or object and there’s still space between the fingers and thumb. Think of yourself doing a pull-up around a thick bar and your hand doesn’t go completely around it.
Pinching: Pinching grip is when your pinching object, with fingers holding it and thumb is in opposition of the fingers. Think of putting your hand on a board or weighted plate, it’s going to resemble a narrow upside down “U”.
Extension: Hand extension is when you open the fingers and thumb (antagonistic action to flexion of the fingers and thumb).
Crushing Grip: Crushing is the action of closing the fingers against a resistance. Similar in nature but often forgotten are clamping (wrapping the fingers around something and squeezing it toward the palm) and crimping (directing force with the fingers toward the callous line).
Wrist, Forearm and Elbow Movement Patterns
Pronation/Supination: Pronation is the turning of the forearm to where it faces downward and supination is the turning of the forearm facing upwards.
Extension/Flexion: Extension is the movement of the wrist being upwards facing the forearm and flexion is the antagonistic being the opposite to where the wrist is facing downwards to the forearms.
Circumduction: Circumduction is the movement of all the patterns listed above to where the hand moves in a circular motion.
Elbow Movement Patterns
Extension: Straightening the elbow, such as in the bench press. Any weakness or liability in the surrounding musculature can decrease your numbers on the bench and other pressing movements.
Flexion/With Supination: Bending the elbow so that the forearm nears the bicep with the palm facing upward.
Flexion/With Pronation: Bending the elbow so that the forearm nears the bicep with the palm facing downward (like a reverse bicep curl motion). Shown above, this is a very important movement for preventing and getting rid of inflammation injuries like tennis elbow.
So we just covered all the patterns of the hand, forearms and the elbows that we need to attack to have a powerful grip that crushes other men(when necessary), to improve other lifts, improve body health, and prevent muscular imbalances.
Rep Ranges: When it comes to grip training, you want to treat the reps just like training any other part of your body. Examples of sets and reps to do: 3 – 5 sets, reps ranging from 6 – 15 reps for strength, 15 + reps for muscular endurance strength.
Time Under Tension: This is different than performing reps. This will be for exercises to where you’re carrying the weight with your hands for a distance. For strength and power, carry the weight 10 feet – 50 feet, and beyond 50 feet will be muscular endurance strength.
When you combine both methods such as performing rep ranges from low to high and time under tension for short distances to long distances. It’s very important you combine all those aspects for maximum grip strength and to maximize it.
Now it’s time for the best part…training.
Drop The Straps: The easiest method for increasing your grip if you’re a strap user, stop using straps so much. They have a time and place for hitting personal records on lifts and for handling heavier poundage beyond what your grip can muster. However, in the meantime start cutting back on the use of straps when doing deadlifts, rowing or pulling movements and only use them once a week on heavy lifting days, or when you’re in the rep range of 1-3.
Grip Training Exercises
In the grip training exercises, I’ll be going over the exercises that I’ve done from experience and currently do that have immensely developed my grip from to not bad to impressive.
Get ready for the fun stuff.
Finger Pushups: Great for strengthening the fingers for beginners to advance. Instead of doing a normal push-up with your palms down, you’re displacing your weight on your fingers. If it’s too hard to do normally, do it on all fours(girl push up), or on all fours butt legs slightly further out into a push-up.
As you progressively get stronger, you can use fewer fingers to make it more challenging, to where eventually you’re doing it with 1 or 2 fingers on both hands to eventually 1 finger from one hand.
By doing this, it will make your fingers harder, durable, and of course stronger.
Finger Table Push Ups: You’ve probably never heard of or seen these probably, but this exercise is great for individual strengthening the fingers one/ at a time.
You place your fingers at the edge of a table, desk, bench and you hang your finger off to where you feel a stretch and then you push up with the finger into an erect position.
Plate Grip Training
Plate Curls: Great for developing your pinch grip and wrist strength. These shouldn’t be taken lightly, these are challenging not only for your grip but also your biceps.
On this exercises, you’re going to be performing a pinch grip. You’re going to hook your thumb on the edge of the plate, and then you’re going to perform a curl. Do your best to not let your wrist buckle under the weight.
When starting off with doing this, if your grip isn’t is average start out with a 1 – 10lbs, or 1 – 10lbs and 1 -2.5lbs pinched together.
If you have above average pinch grip you can start off with 25lbs, if your grip beyond above, you could possibly do 35lbs +.
Plate Pinches: Great for developing pinch strength, these are performed with plates smooth side out you can pinch 2- 2.5lbs, 2 -5lbs, 2-10lbs, and – 2 -25lbs etc. These are easier to do if you got cast iron plates, compared to the weights I’m holding.
If you’re able to plate pinch 2-25lbs, 2 – 35lbs, 2-45lbs, you got one hell of a grip.
Finger Plate Carries: Finger plate carries are brutal but super effective for building strong and durable fingertips. This is an exercise, you’ve probably never seen done before, but you would be impressed if you saw somebody carrying 100lbs on their fingers tips.
When you do this, it works best with doing it with cast iron plates to where you have the smooth side of the plate faces your leg. If you don’t have those available, you can use grip plates that look like steering wheels and put your fingers underneath those for the same effect.
Towel Grip Training
Towels are a non-expensive by making the surface of whatever your pulling or curling thicker that makes for a more dynamic and metabolic method training your hands.
You can put a hand towel or a body towel around a dumbbell, pull up bars/stations, kettlebells, to cable machines or barbells etc. There are many creative ways to challenge your grip with towels, don’t limit yourself.
Equipment Grip Training
Hand Grippers: I’m sure you’ve seen these at Walmart, or somebody you know has a pair laying around at their apartments. Hand grippers are the most popular form of grip training, the con is that most people forget to buy a stronger pair(or lack consistency) to get results.
The amazing thing about grippers is that they come in different poundages to challenge you ranging from 25lbs to 365lbs of grip force. Doing these will develop your crushing grip.
Sledge Hammer: There’s just something extremely primal about hitting or swinging at something with a hammer. Not only are they fun, and great for conditioning but they will build tremendous grip strength and other functional strength needed for everyday life.
You can do various swings when it comes to swinging a sledgehammer or you can do circular motions as you will see in my video. You can do an underhand swing, overhead smashes, overhead swing, circles etc just be creative but be smart and safe.
Steel Pipe: Wrist workout with a 3lb pipe – 15lb pipe(10inches to 24 inches) to strengthen the wrist in multiple movements such as circumduction, extension, and flexion. Even a heavy hammer or small sledgehammer would work fine to produce the same results.
By using whatever arsenal your choose, you can move your wrist in an upward, downward, side to side, or circular motion etc.
Kettlebell Grip Training
Bottom Up Carries: A phenomenal humbling exercise for hitting your grip, core and improving your shoulder health.
When it comes to doing this exercise, you grab the kettlebell by the handles and then press it up into a bent arm rack position or press it straight up overhead too.
Kettlebell Handle Curls: Another unique way of challenging your grip, that will improve your support grip. You can do these in three different variations
You can either perform these by gripping the left, center, or right handle of the kettlebell. Gripping the handle in the middle will be easiest due to it providing more stability than grabbing the right or left of the handle.
However, you should challenge yourself to hold it on left and right instead of making it easy as possible.
Rope Grip Training:
Weighted Rope Pulls: Pulling a rope is a fun way of training or climbing one if you’re in decent shape. They’re great for conditioning and total bodywork. However, it’s also great for developing a vice grip too.
When doing this exercise, you want to start off with a shoulder-width stance, or a little bit wider than that for a solid foundation of stability. Then slightly squat, and then pull the rope with both your arms extending all the way with the tightness grip possible to reel the weighted end of the rope to your feet.
You can even do this with one arm too.
Dumbbell Grip Training
Inverted Dumbbell Lift: Another unique exercise for developing your grip strength. This is something again, you’ll never, or rarely seen unless you’re at a hardcore gym or people working on various ways to develop their grip.
This exercise is easy to do if you have hexagon shaped dumbbells compared to the dumbbell I’m holding.
This exercise will challenge your pinch and support grip. So, when doing this, stand tall and grab a dumbbell ranging from 15 – 40lbs+ depending on your level of grip and claw grip it to raise it up with one hand.
Dumbbell Finger Edge Curls: Another unique way to challenge and strengthing your fingers/pinch grip.
Get two dumbbells or one if you want to focus on one hand. Next, set the dumbbells on top of a bench, now grab the part of the dumbbell facing you with your hand supinated to where the four of your fingers will be underneath the bell and the thumb on top. Now, just curl it until your biceps give out.
Farmer Walks: Farmer walks are the classic bread and butter exercise of building phenomenal grip, core, and overall body strength. Most of you haven’t thought of this, but you’ve been doing these for a long time.
Think of groceries, when you carrying grocery bags on both sides of your body, or with one arm you’re performing a loaded carry.
Anyway, when it comes to doing these, it’s quite simple.
Grab two pairs of heavy dumbbells that challenge you, keep them by your side but not touching your body. Remember that’s cheating, we still want to activate all the muscles to carry the load.
Next thing you’re going to do is bring your shoulders back(retract them back). This is going to bring your chest up, and the last thing you’re going to do is propel yourself forward with normal steps. However, emphasize on squeezing your glutes as you walk to give you more power and stability.
Now, pick a goal distance to walk and then go back to your original position.
Rubber Band Extensor Workout: You can buy rubber bands at the store Target, or buy the broccoli with the thick bands on them and put them on the tip of your fingers.
You then just open your fingers to resist the bands for resistance. You want to ideally do 50 reps of 4 sets.
If your hand is untrained, start out with doing one first. If you have decent to advance grip, go ahead and do 2 – 4 rubber bands.
We covered the importance of developing a powerful masculine grip and exercises to have vigor, resilience, presence, and confidence.
By you taking the time to develop your grip, it will make you stand out and give you an edge over other men in today’s modern world that has wreaked so many men into being physically weak.
To neglect your fingers, wrist, forearms should be a crime. Always remember…grip strength will always have a place in a man’s life and will always be a necessity as long as man exists.
For you can be as strong as possible to reach your physical potential, to protect, and to manipulate and manhandle whatever challenges that dare stand in your way.
– Larentay Walker