When it comes to strength training, building a strong grip is possibly one of the most neglected areas. For starters, poor grip strength is a hugely limiting factor when it comes to other exercises such as deadlifts, pull-ups, lunges, rows, bench, etc.
Top 5 Exercises to Improve Your Grip Strength
Here are 5 grip exercises to use along with the type of grip they challenge:
1) Hand Grippers
Using hand or torsion grippers is easily one of the best ways to train your crush grip. Actual hand grippers should be very challenging to close, You can train with hand grippers by going for repetitions and max close, or even holding a close for a set or max period of time. Start with first learning how to properly set and close a gripper as training with them requires a certain level of skill and strength. You should start off with 2-4 sets of 8-10 reps with a lighter gripper and work up from there.
2) Barbell Holds
This is easiest to set up in a squat rack with the pins set just under where you would lock out a deadlift. The goal here isn’t to deadlift up the weight, but rather hold onto it, so a couple of inches is totally fine.
Grab the bar with a double overhand grip at about shoulder width and then stand tall (e.g. deadlift lockout stance). The goal here is to hold for time and depending on your experience, 5-10 seconds will be perfect for most trainees. 3-5 sets should be more than enough to start!
3) Farmer Carries
Typically done with 2 dumbbells or kettlebells, Farmer’s Carries mean you stand up with the weights and walk a certain distance or for a period of time. This adds motion to your grip, so not only are your forearms challenged but so are your core muscles, shoulders, and hips. Try walking 20’ and progressing to 40’ with heavy weights!
4) Towel / Rope Pull-Ups
These do wonderful things for your grip and if your gym doesn’t have a towel service you can pick up a couple of dish towels on the cheap. Simply drape the towels over a standard pull-up bar, grip them tight and perform your regular sets of pull-ups. They will be challenging at first but your grip will improve by leaps and bounds!
5) Band or Sand Hand Extensions
Band extensions can be done by placing a band around all 5 fingers (or even a couple at a time) and extending your hand outward for reps or for time. You can buy professional bands for this, or use the thick band like one of those rubber bracelets people wear.
Another great hand extension exercise can easily be done with a bucket of sand. Simply insert your hand with your fingers closed Karate Kid style and then extend your hand open against the pressure of the sand.
Grip exercises are the simplest addition to a strength training program and yield some of the greatest benefits across the board.
When your grip strength improves, the rest of your lifts will follow suit.