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Fact checked by Kirsten Yovino, CPT Brookbush InstituteFACT CHECKED
March 01, 2022
A lot of people ask us about the importance of grip training and what are the best exercises for increasing grip strength. We are here to answer that question.
Daily life requires high activity levels of the flexor musculature of the forearms, hands and fingers. These are the muscles involved in gripping strength.
Activities such as moving your computer mouse, typing, writing, doing the dishes, carrying laundry, opening a jar, vacuuming, driving to weightlifting exercises such as deadlifts, pull-ups, curls and rows to sports like wrestling, tennis, football, and baseball (pretty much every sport necessitates intense activity levels of the 35 small gripping muscles in your forearms, hand and fingers.
A good grip is mandatory to be successful in almost everything we do. Read on for the 9 best exercises to improve grip strength.
Simply put, grip strength is how long and how much pressure you can apply to an object in your hand compared to how heavy the object is. Grip strength is the force produced by multiple muscles in the arms, forearms, and hands. Needless to say, grip strength benefits you in almost any situation where your hands are involved in holding or grabbing an object.
There are four major types of grip strength that are responsible for different functions. We can grip objects in several ways that can be classified as the following:
The muscles that play a part in creating gripping force are found in the arm, forearm, wrist, hand, and fingers. Muscles from your elbow down to your fingertips play a role in producing your ability to grip objects.
There are 35 muscles that aid in moving the hand and forearm. The flexor muscles provide strength to the hands and forearms, while the extensor muscles help to stabilize the wrists.
Try incorporating these 9 grip strength exercises into your workout programming to improve your grip strength. The only type of grip strength that isn't covered in these exercises is the extension grip strength. To work on that simply get a strong rubber band then loop it over your fingers and open/close your hand until you feel a burn.
The farmer’s carry is one of the best exercises to hit those forearm muscles and improve your support grip strength. This exercise is different from many grip strength exercises in that you’re walking while performing them. The walking movement makes the farmer’s carry test your core strength and grip strength as you have to constantly stabilize yourself as you move forward.
This exercise also mimics many daily activities of carrying objects from point A to B. There’s a reason why strongmen incorporate this exercise in their sport; it torches the forearms while building core strength and mindset.
Note: You could challenge your core more if you hold a weight in one hand to force your body to compensate for the uneven weight distribution.
The hammer curl is a fantastic exercise to strengthen your crush grip while building solid arms. Hammer curls will work the biceps and engage muscles like your brachialis and brachioradialis.
When performing hammer curls, your wrists are in a neutral position so that the muscles in the region are strengthened, while you can generally lift heavier weights compared to regular biceps curls. These are great for working the whole arm!
Note: Keep wrists straight throughout the movement, don’t rock the weights up.
All you’ll need is your body and a bar to hang from to perform this essential exercise/stretch. This simple yet super effective exercise is sure to tax your support grip strength.
Dead hangs don’t only aid in strengthening your grip but also help with correcting muscle imbalances, decompressing the spine, stretching out multiple muscles, and enhancing your ability to do pull ups.
Note: You can change the grip to test yourself and stretch different muscles. Try underhand, mixed grip, or a wide grip.
The plate pinch looks like it might be a straightforward exercise, but it’s anything but easy. Many people neglect training their pinch grip strength, so this exercise will be challenging for most.
Note: Start with light weights, then move up once you can hold the plate for longer than 30 seconds.
This exercise works the muscles in the forearms and the hands, thus giving you a stronger grip. Focus on the contraction of the muscles while moving the weight in a slow controlled manner. Start with lighter weights so you can concentrate on proper technique to get the most out of the movement.
Note: This exercise can also be performed with a barbell instead of dumbbells.
The reverse curl is another excellent exercise for engaging the biceps and brachialis to improve crush grip strength. Reverse curls put the wrists in a position that causes more stress on the joint so that you’ll be using lighter loads to get big results.
Your forearms, wrists, and hands have to go into overdrive to keep ahold of the handle while curling the weight upwards. Many people neglect reverse curls, but we’re here to change that.
Note: this exercise can be done with a dumbbells or with a cable machine.
Fingertip pushups aren’t only for martial art movies. This exercise can help you increase your grip strength and make you look badass at the same time. Fingertip pushups engage the tendons and muscles in the forearms.
By bracing your body’s weight on your fingertips, you can strengthen your grip through the isometric tension placed on the muscle in your forearms. If you can’t support your whole body, try doing this exercise from your knees to start.
Pull ups are one of the best upper body compound exercises that you can do. Pull ups work multiple muscles in unison, including the forearms, as you need to squeeze the bar as you pull your body up towards the bar. Having your palms facing away from you will engage your forearms more, thus leading to a firmer grip.
Note: You can use a pull up machine or bands to start. If you can’t do pull ups unassisted try out our pull up progression plan for beginners.
Deadlifts are a complete exercise that works muscles from head to toe. Deadlifts will improve grip strength because you must hold the load for an extended time under tension as you lift the bar from the floor and lower it down again.
With deadlifts, you can switch up the grip you use to change the stress on your muscles to develop an iron grip. Next time you do deadlifts, use a overhand grip (not a mixed grip) and even add a shrug at the top to increase the time under tension and improve your support grip strength.
Below are some tips to keep in mind if you want to boost your grip strength in the most safe and effective ways.
Variation: Again, using different objects to train grip is a best practice. For example, instead of the usual grip for pull-ups, you could use a towel or rope to pull yourself up. Even simply changing the size of the bar will boost your grip strength.
NO STRAPS: If you want your grip strength & endurance to improve then don't use straps on deadlifts.
Stop If Your Wrist Hurts: Don't push past pain as this could jeopardize your gains. Leave your ego at the door.
Do Grip Specific Exercises At The End Of The Workout: Many compound exercises work grip strength and endurance. Isolated grip exercises should be done at the end of your workout.
When training you should always be thinking about your grip, especially for lifts like deadlifts, curls or even when squatting and benching. Crush that bar.
Try to do 1-2 of the 9 best grip strength exercises from above at least once a week in your normal training program. Or you could use a grip strengthener on your off days. Grip strengthener benefits are plentiful, plus they can be used while you're sitting on the couch watching Netflix.
If you're looking for a more unconventional approach then you could try using the steel mace which is the ultimate grip strength tool, use these 17 mace exercises to bulletproof your wrists and enhance your grip.
Whatever you do, don't forget grip strength is everything!
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