Grip Strength - The Definitive Guide

It's the twenty-first century and it's clear to anyone who's been using their head that to lead a quality life, physical health and fitness is a must. For the average person this would mean going out for a run, or hitting the gym and that's all fine and well, but there's one area of our body often forgotten by gurus and workout enthusiasts alike - grip strength.

Now, for most people, their grip works to a decent level while performing other hand-based exercises like bench presses or dumbbell curls, but there's more to grip strength than first meets the eye and in this definitive guide, I will cover everything to do with Grip Strength!

Grip Strength Bodybuilder

Grip Strength - What is it?

People often think of it as just the power of your hand, and while that's definitely part of it, there are plenty of other factors to take into consideration when training your grip. To put you on the right track - grip training involves all your muscles starting from your fingertips all the way up to your elbow and the muscles surrounding it, which does make sense once you really think about it. Loads of the hand flexor muscles begin (trained heavily through hand grippers), in actuality, above your elbow. Going down the arm, the gripper muscles weave through the front and back of your forearm into your wrist, then your hands and finally thumbs and fingers. This is a crucial understanding necessary for effective grip training. I will repeat myself, this is crucial to understand. 

When you begin to look at the exercising of your grip with this in mind you will start to realize there are numerous movement patterns your lower arm is capable of and does exercise. Hence, it becomes common sense that you can't train grip power fully unless you're completing all the movements the musculature is capable of.

Why is it so important? Because incorrect training is the number one cause of injury. And improper exercise or even just neglecting certain muscle groups and patterns may evolve into horrible things like epicondylitis, tendinosis, tendonitis and the list goes on.

Alright, so all of this is fun, but what are the actual different types of grip training. Well, I have compiled a list for you to enjoy below!

muscles of the forearm

Types of Grip Strength

This is what most people think the grip is in its entirety. It entails a grip where the object being gripped is pressed against the palm and all fingers as if you were crushing something in your hands. The crush grip is most used in destroying objects due to massive pressure or a bone crusher handshake. This is the category into which gripper training falls into!

Just to let you know, if this will be the type of grip strength that you would like to prioritize and improve. We have worked with a grip training expert Jedd Diesel to bring you the most in-depth Crush Grip Video Course available on the market!

In this particular style of grip strength, the thumb is on one end of the pressure and the rest of the fingers are on the other. Hence the name pinch grip, your train and practice it through pinching exercises like plate pinches.

The support grip strength is best described by the endurance of the wrist and fingers - The farmers walk is a direct example of an exercise that trains your support grip. A large amount of muscular endurance is necessary to excel in this.

You got crush, now you meet its opposite - extension. While crush grip is all about focusing your power inwards, extension grip is what's gonna help you escape, when you've been the one trapped. Naturally, all the fall into this category. And when this type of grip strength is neglected, you may experience pain due to forearm imbalances.

Wrist stability and mobility is key here, maximizing the efficiency in the transfer of energy between your hands and forearms, along with being crucial to support grip, so your wrists can hold up with your fingers and hands.

Now that you have a basic grasp of the different types of grip strength, let me tell explain to you why it is so important that you stop neglecting this part of training. 

big forearm

Benefits of grip strength.

There are plentiful reasons a man or woman would want to acquire a powerful grip. Your reasons could be related to training and athletic goals, or perhaps even purely social - it's up to you.
In this article, we'll highlight some of them so you can get a good look at what you're missing out on

Bigger Lifts.

Through hand gripper training there's one massive benefit of grip strength that can't be left unspoken - you'll be able to do heavier, bigger lifts in the gym - it'll be most noticeable in exercises like rows, pull-ups, chin-ups, deadlifts (exercises involving pulling movements). In fact, if you've been stuck on a certain weight for a while now - whether it be deadlifts, bench presses, whatever, there's a solid chance that grip strength is the game changer.

Increased quality of life.

A 1999 study around grip strength concluded the following:
“Among healthy 45- to 68-year-old men, hand grip strength was highly predictive of functional limitations and disability 25 years later. Good muscle strength in midlife may protect people from old age disability by providing a greater safety margin above the threshold of disability.”
So as you can see research indicates that if you keep the power of your grip healthy you're investing into your future as well. No one wants to be a helpless old man.

A Strong Handshake.

You can debate this, but the fact of the matter is - men and even women are judged/evaluated based on their physical strength or how powerful they seem. And if you're a male born in a society that's at least somewhat Oldschool still - there's no better example than a solid handshake.
Perhaps you can, but I can't deny, that when I shake a man's hand and he looks me back in the eye and delivers a decent squeeze back - it gives me a sense of confidence, dependability even. And you can't deny that if you get hit with the ''limp sausage'' handshake then the person often seems weak, untrustworthy, even slimy.

Less injuries.

Though this one is quite self explanatory, we'll get more into the details of why and how. Fact: Connective tissue and muscle that are trained and strengthened are much less likely to be injured, and if injury does occur in the end, the tissue will recover in a quicker pace, so that you can be back at it as soon as humanly possible.

This is of even more importance to athletes which compete in contact sports, where an unlucky injury to the fingers, hands, wrists can take you out completely until you've recovered. For example: while players of football and soccer are much more dependent on the power of their core and legs, they can be put out of the competition in one tiny slip-up related to the hands, and even if not put out - their performance surely suffers.
So to put this in a conclusive statement - unless you want to be sitting on the bench for the season due to an unlucky mishap we suggest you invest in your grip strength.

forearm front view

Grip Strength exercises

We've compiled a list of exercises you can do at your local gym, at home, or even at your desk to get your grip strength to were it needs to be.

Grip Strength Gym Exercises

While we would recommend that you pick up some specialized gripper training equipment to lower your chances of injury and increase efficiency, there's always a way to train - and we're gonna start out by giving you some exercises you can do while hitting your favorite gym.

Bar hang: This has to be one of the simples grip exercises out there, just find a bar, secure your hands on it and start hanging - if you can't hang on the bar, put your feet on the ground to slightly assist yourself - never forget to put on the pressure though ;)

Wrist curls/Reverse wrist curls: Something along these lines is probably what pops into somebody's head when they hear grip training for the first time. And while this definitely isn't a bad exercise, we can't stress enough that you should be careful, and never overdo it with the weight, this is a delicate exercise.

Towel Chin-ups: Are you the guy who says regular chin-ups are too easy? Well first of all you're a douche, second of all congratulations, you've discovered a new exercise to push you and your grip to the limits - throw a towel over the back and go at it, no further explanation needed.

Barbell levering: If you're a beginner we definitely suggest you skip this one for now. Looking from the side this honestly looks like one of those ''what are they doing'' gym videos, but we promise it works! Grab the bar and grab it with one hand - off-center and start lifting to the front and back - be slow and methodical, this is another exercise where injuries will definitely occur to those too cocky or confident. But if executed correctly, you will feel the forearm pump and experience rapid grip strength growth!

Plate curls: This one works on your biceps as well, along with being an absolutely solid wrist workout too. Remember to not hit yourself in the face! Repeat for around 8-12 repetitions a set.

Plate Pinches: Get a pair of weights and sandwich them together, smooth side facing outwards preferably. Pick up with two or one hands (readers preference) and hold for as long as you can. Grip athletes of high caliber can pick up a pair of 45lb plates with each hand!

Farmers walk: Go, get yourself a pair of dumbbells and go for a stroll around the gym, that's all there is to it, try not to shake your wrists and if you don't have space to walk - fine! Just stand there! do it for at least 30 seconds a set.

Dumbbell head grabs: Place a dumbbell on either of its ends and pick it up by the top. If you ask me it quite replicates a jar. Don't go too hard with this one though, because if the dumbbell is too large, the thumb can be stretched too far and strained. Hold for around 30 seconds a set and if that becomes too easy - opt for bigger weight obviously!

 forearms front view

Grip Strength Home Exercises


Now we've given you a list of exercises you can do at the gym, though there's a lot more it's a good start. Now We'll fill you in on the things you can do in the comfort of your own home.

Farmers Walk (Grocery Bag Edition): Just as the previously describes farmers walk, but with, you know - grocery bags. Fill to grocery bags up with even amounts of weight, and if you're unsure there even, just change hands between sets, though you should avoid this if you can. Stand in your living room or go for a stroll outside - it's up to you!

Push ups (without the push or the ups): Just get into the position you'd get into if you were about to bust out some pushups, then just don't and stay in that position for as long as you can. Though regular pushups train grip quite well, if you want to focus in more on your wrists and forearms just staying in place will do the trick.

Grip Strength Exercises you can do at your desk (or office)

You're probably reading this article while sitting at your desk, looking at your computer right now! Well here are some things you can instantly do to start improving your grip strength and mobility today.

Here's a quick stretch routine you can do!

Reverse hands on the desk: Just turn your hands inwards as you would if you were about to pick up a heavy object, then place them on your table in the same reversed manner and start stretching, rocking right to left gently.

Reverse hands on the desk (Palms up): For this one you'll repeat the steps exactly as they are in the first exercise, except you'll lift your palms off the table, leaving you stretching mainly your fingers. (A crucial, often forgotten part of grip strength)

Backhand knuckles on the desk: Form your hands into knuckles, then press them against one another, then turn them to face towards you when places down on the desk, from here you'll start to imitate a pushup motion (pushing up and down with your arms, gently)

We promise if you give these a try your hands will almost definitely feel different, more powerful, mobile. Now, for the first real exercise:

The rubber band: The name is quite self explanatory on this one as well, gather up enough rubber bands, as to when you place them around the tips of your fingers, it is difficult to expand them, do this for as many repetitions as you can (if it's too easy keep loading on the rubber bands). However, we would suggest prompting for a specialized Who has a spare 100 rubber bands lying around? 

Another grip strength training you can do at your desk (even though it does require a small investment) is a regular closing hand gripper. though this does require a small investment, if you're serious about grip strength it's more than worth it considering one of these will last you almost forever. 

Grip Strength - A Separate Discipline

The beginnings of grip strength as a discipline are found in the performances of circuses and fairs, though recently grip sports have gained more mainstream acceptance as the years go by and people become more educated and open minded. Some events to name a few include nail bending, the one arm deadlift, hand gripper closing, etc.

The most known competitions are:
The King Kong Grip Challenge
North American Gripsport Championship
World's Strongest Hands
A Gripmas Carol
Champion of Champions
European Grip Championships
Mighty Mitts
Britain's Strongest Hands
British Grip Championships
Münsterland Grip Challenge
Global Grip Challenge
Loddekopinge Grip Challenge
Australian Grip Championships
German Grip Championships
Backyard Bastard Bash
Metroflex Mayhem at Metroflex
The National Capital Grip Championship
The South Jersey Grip Contest
The Southern Squeeze

Grip Strength - Conclusion

In the past grip strength was nothing more than a thought that might pass through someone's head when considering exercise, now it's become a crucial part of training regimen for top tier athletes and people all around the globe who want to increase their quality of life. Grip strength can be divided into 5 sections: Crush grip, pinch grip, support grip, extension and wrist work - if you do a good job working on all of these you're likely doing a good job keeping your grip in a very healthy state.

In the beginnings of history grip strength was something you'd see someone show off in a circus or fair, an oddity, now there are tens, even hundreds of grip based competitions all around the globe, with hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts all either participating or cheering each other on.

We, at the grip gauntlet aim to provide you with the best, grip training equipment that will take your grip strength to the next level. While all of the alternative training methods are useful, they may not be effective as specialized grip training equipment. 

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