Grip strength is essential for all those who participate in resistance training with the use of weights. People often neglect the grip strengthening portion of their training program, because they feel simply using dumbbells and a barbell will suffice.
However, this is often not enough as you progress further in your training program. Doing even 2 or 3 grip-based workouts a month will significantly improve your grip strength.
Another alternative could be to take one grip strengthening exercise and include it in 1 or 2 workouts each week.
Whatever path you choose, you will realize the benefits of being able to lift without straps, improving your pulling capabilities, and opening a jar with ease! All jokes aside, the numerous benefits greatly help both athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
Grip strength can be classified into 3 categories:
- Supporting. The endurance to move weight for longer periods, or simply perform a task where grip is needed for longer than brief periods.
- Pinching. The ability to hold weights or other heavy items without dropping them.
- Crushing . Think of holding a lime or lemon and squeezing it for juice.
Let's take a look at essential tips and tricks for improving your grip strength in all three categories.
1. Use Thick-Handled Dumbbells
You may not have noticed, but most gyms have two different types of dumbbells available: regular grip dumbbells, which almost everyone is capable of using; and thick-handled dumbbells, which is what you want to focus on for grip improvement. These dumbbells are designed for people with longer fingers and wider palms, but eventually they came into use for grip improvement.
The thicker grip makes it harder to hold, which in turn causes you to grip even harder to perform movement, whether it be pushing, pulling or even curling. Give them a try to see how much more effort your grip has to give for any exercise.
If you don't have thick dumbbells, you can try using Fat Gripz or equivalent products, which simulate a thick handle.
2. Perform Farmer's Walk
The Farmer's Walk is a simple exercise that confers tremendous benefits. Hold the weights at your sides with your arms fully extended down to your waist and walk a specific distance. Easy, right? Well, the thing that makes the exercise difficult is resistance. It has to be performed with heavy resistance to create any type of workout—unless you have a longer area in which to maneuver. The Farmer's Walk improves your grip strength, because you literally have to grip the heavy weight with lots of pressure to avoid dropping it. Using thick-handled dumbbells is twice as beneficial.
3. Perform Forearm Isolation Exercises
The muscles in your forearms control hand and finger movement, so strengthening your forearms carries over to improving your grip strength. Plus, isolating your forearms from time to time improves the look of your lower arms and helps them match your upper arms. Your biceps and triceps improve upper-arm appearance, so it's only natural to want thicker forearms as well. Forearm exercises to consider are Dumbbell Wrist Curls, Dumbbell Wrist Twists and Reverse Curls with your wrist bent.
4. Don't Use Straps for Pulling Exercises
Pulling exercises are those usually performed for back training such as Seated Rows, Lat Pulldowns and Deadlifts. It's common to use wrist straps to help grip the equipment in order to pull more weight. This is OK if you're solely trying to improve muscular strength and growth. But if you want to improve your grip strength as well, you definitely should put the wrist straps aside.
Use all these tips and tricks for improving your grip strength by including them in at least 1 or 2 workouts a week. Think of it as having as much importance as training your core muscles. Never leave any muscle behind for max training potential.
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