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Hand grip strength can have far reaching consequences to your workouts and a poor grip can effect common everyday tasks. Yet many people tend to forget to focus on exercises to help promote a strong grip.
No matter how strong your chest, back or biceps are, if you have weak grip strength then this is going to impact how you perform exercises such as deadlifts, rows and the bench press.
If you’re training in the gym and notice that your hands seem to fatigue easily meaning you can’t finish those last few reps, lack of grip strength could be your problem.
Grip strength workouts don’t need to take up much time, and with a few pieces of equipment you can easily perform our recommended exercises at home.
Grip training will not just improve your grip, it will also increase the size of your forearm muscles and wrist strength as well as leading to an overall better performance during resistance training.
In this article we’ll look at some of the best grip strength exercises you can include as part of your daily activities.
Grip Strength Exercises
The dead hang exercise is an excellent way of improving grip strength. Not only that it can improve the health to your back by decompressing the spine and improves mobility to the shoulders and help with your posture.
You can either perform this exercise by using a pull-up bar or a barbell positioned on a power rack. Make sure the bar is high enough so that your feet don’t touch the floor when you’re hanging.
If you’re new to this exercise, aim to hang for at least 10 seconds and once you get used to this increase the time up to 60 seconds.
- Use either a step up box or simply jump up to grab hold of the bar.
- Hold the bar with a pronated grip so that your palms face away from you.
- Your hands should be around shoulder width apart.
- Maintain this position for at least 10 seconds.
When performed regularly this exercise can improve strength to the whole body and help to strip away unwanted body fat. It’s also one of the best exercises for a stronger grip.
For this exercise you can use either dedicated farmers walk handles which can be loaded up with weight plates or just a pair of dumbbells. Start with a lighter weight if you’re a beginner.
- Start by standing at the end of a hallway or somewhere where you have enough space to walk around 10 to 20 yards. Your feet should be hip width apart.
- Bend down and take hold of your handles or dumbbells.
- Stand up straight and engage your core muscles for stability.
- Start walking forwards taking small steps but make sure you don’t allow the weight to swing, it should just be hanging down by your sides.
- Once you’ve got to the end of the room or hallway, turn around and walk back again.
- Take a 60 second rest and repeat for another 2 sets.
Wrist curls are a great way of improving grip strength as well targeting the muscles of your forearms.
This is also an effective way of improving the mobility of range of motion of the wrist joints by activating the extensors and flexors.
This exercise is performed seated whilst holding a pair of dumbbells or a barbell. Avoid using a heavy weight as you could put too much pressure on the wrist joints and ligaments which may result in injury.
- Start by taking a seat either on a weight bench or solid chair.
- Take hold of a dumbbell in each hand and lean your torso forwards slightly so that you can rest your forearms and elbows rest on your upper leg.
- Your palms should be facing towards the ceiling with wrists on the edge of your knees to ensure proper form. This is your starting position.
- Slowly allow the hands to drop down with wrists opening so that dumbbells can roll down to your fingertips.
- Pause for a second before rolling the wrists back up towards the ceiling. Make sure to keep your wrists on your knees throughout.
- The movement of your wrists should always be slow and controlled.
- Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
The plate pinch hold is a static movement that just requires you to adopt a standing position whilst holding on to a weight plate in each hand.
This exercise will specifically target the forearm flexors and of course lead to good grip strength as well as pinch strength.
- Begin by standing with feet hip width apart with a plate located either side of you, resting against your lower legs.
- Squat down and take hold of a weight plate in each hand by grasping the edge with just your fingers.
- Stand back up straight and brace your core and keep your head and chest up.
- Maintain this hold by squeezing your thumb and fingers for at least 20 to 30 seconds.
- Perform 3 times in total.
Rubber Band Extensions
You can use a regular rubber band for this exercise or get yourself some specially designed bands just for the job.
This exercise will help to improve pinch grip and hand strength and is often performed by people who take part in rock climbing.
- Pinch your fingers and thumb together.
- Place a rubber band around all four fingers and your thumb.
- From here, extend your fingers and thumb outwards.
- Tension created by the band will add resistance working the muscles.
Hand grippers are a fantastic tool for increasing grip and forearm strength and can also help with conditions such as repetitive strain injury.
Sometimes called a grip strengthener, these are very easy to use and can be used wherever and whenever you have the time.
It’s a spring loaded device which comes in different sizes and different resistance levels which vary anywhere from 10lbs up to a massive 350lbs.
- Position the handle so it’s around 45 degrees in your palm.
- Ensure that all four fingers are around the top handle.
- Slowly squeeze the handles together for a count of 3.
- Pause at the bottom and then allow the grippers to open back up, also for a count of 3.
- Complete 10 repetitions before switching hands.
Plate rows are a little like the plate pinch exercise. The main difference is that instead of a static hold, you’ll be rowing the plates up towards you giving your back muscles a workout too.
- Start by standing upright with feet around hip width apart.
- Gripping a plate in each hand, push your glutes back and lower your torso until it’s around 45 degrees.
- Keep your head and chest up throughout.
- Allow your arms to hang down by your sides to begin with. This is your start position.
- When you’re ready, keep your elbows tucked in and pull the plates straight up towards you.
- Slowly lower the plates back down and then repeat for the desired number of reps.
What Causes Weak Grip Strength?
The overriding cause of weak wrists is simply down to not using our hands as much during daily life.
Many people nowadays lead sedentary lives often with desk jobs, which typically means they’ll be spending much of their day typing.
This can result in conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome which is another leading cause of weak grip and hand muscles.
Muscles and muscle strength tend to deteriorate as we age, and this can be another contributing factor leading to a weakened grip.
Remember, a poor grip can limit your pulling performance.
Not only will this effect your workouts by limiting your ability to perform bigger lifts. But it can also have an impact on things encountered in everyday life, such as carrying your groceries or even unscrewing the lid on a pickle jar.
If you believe your lack of grip strength is down to spending your day at a computer or not using the muscles of the hands and fingers as much as you could, then performing grip exercises on a regular basis can quickly address this problem.