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December 8, 2018

5 Best Exercises to Build Grip Strength – Smart Fitness Results

Having a strong grip can actually enhance muscle gains and overall performance as you will be able to do heavier weights. Surprisingly, the forearm and hand make use of 35 muscles.

When it comes to grip training you will benefit from endurance, strength, and wrist mobility.

What Exercises Improve Grip Strength the Best? 

The best 5 exercises to build grip strength are:

  1. Plate Pinches
  2. Farmer Walks
  3. Wrist Extensions
  4. Hex Holds
  5. Dead Hangs 

1. Plate Pinches 

Pick up a weight plate and hold it with just two fingers of one hand, in other words a pinch grip. You will, in fact be pinching the plate between your fingers (hence the name). Be sure to keep your elbows tucked in or your biceps will take some of the force. This is a great exercise to hit both sides of the forearms. Try to hold for 60 seconds. Then do the same with the other hand.

2. Farmer Walks

Hold a dumbbell in each hand. These should be the heaviest weights you can handle. Now, keeping them at arm’s length, take large strides as you walk up and down the gym. As you walk, squeeze the dumbbell handles as hard as you can. Don’t stop until your forearms are unable to keep going.

3. Wrist extensions

If your gym has a wrist roller, you’re in luck. If not, you can easily make one by putting a piece of rope through a hole in a thick piece of dowel. Knot the end of the rope and then add a weight plate to the other end.

Perform wrist extensions by simply rolling up the rope. Do 10-15 continuous reps for a forearm burning way to develop a crushing grip.

4. Hex Holds

You will need to use hexagonal dumbbells for this one. Simply wrap your fingers around the end of a dumbbell that is standing on its end and lift it off the ground. Try to hold it for 60 seconds then repeat with the other hand. Do 3-4 sets of these. As with the plate pinches, you need to keep your elbows in to keep the biceps out of it.

5. Dead Hangs

Hang from a chin up bar. Set your stop watch and simply stay there for as long as you can. Pretty soon your forearms will be on fire – that’s a good thing!

How to measure grip strength ?

The 2 most popular methods to measure hand grip strength are the hang test and the dynamometer test. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that the hand grip dynamometer test good for confirming overall muscle strength and endurance.

The dynamometer test:

  1. Hold the dynamometer in your hand.
  2. Grip the dynamometer as hard as possible with with arm bent at 90 degree angle.
  3. Repeat this 3 times to obtain an overall reading  

 

Types of Grip Strength

Exercises will require 3 types of grip strength: the pinch grip, the support grip and the crush grip.

Crush Grip

This is the one you immediately think about, squeezing something between your palm and your fingers. This includes holding onto a barbell, holding onto dumbbells, holding onto a rope, and anything that you need to close your hands in order to keep hold of it.

 

Support Grip

Support grip is exactly what it sounds like. Support grip refers to holding onto something for an extended period of time without letting go, for instance carrying groceries holding onto a rope for a long period, or doing a static hold exercise.

The best example of support grip is the Hercules hold. The Hercules hold is a contest in strongman competitions which requires the athlete to hold onto a significant amount of weight for as long as they can.

 

Pinch Grip

Pinch grip, like the name suggests, is the strength you can produce when pinching your finger with your thumb. Extremely important in sports like rock climbing, having a good pinch grip could potentially save your life.

 

Grip Strength Muscles Worked

Follow our grip workout and you will notice increased grip strength as the exercises will target the main muscles.

The main muscles worked doing grip strength exercises are the:

  • Pronator Quadratus,
  • Flexor Pollicis Longus,
  • Flexor Digitorum Superficialis, and
  • Flexor Digitorum Profundus.    

 

3 Reasons Why You Need to Strengthen Your Grip

train to lift heavy

Grip strength training must be included in every workout training program because:

1. Your grip can affect your core

It has been found that the hanging leg raise is the most effective exercise when you want rock-hard abs and a strong core. However, this particular workout would be almost impossible to perform when the grip is weak.

Most trainers avoid this extreme workout opting instead to crunches and other easier forms of abdominal exercises. However, when you’re after a strong core coupled with well-defined abs and stronger grip, the hanging leg raise is the one to go for.

But before you decide to do it, it would be far better to get a grip on yourself by strengthening your grip. In a nutshell, the best possible way to strengthen the body’s core is to strengthen the grip first.

2. Your strength is measured by the strength of your grip

There are many instances in a trainer’s life when doing another rep of weightlifting seems impossible. This is because of grip slipping. The grip is always the first to go with strength training. The arms, hands, and forearms simply give up doing additional bicep curls, trap exercises or deadlifts.

This happens because your hand strength is measured by the strength of your grip. A strong grip is crucial to work the other muscles because these muscles actually rely on the grip to keep things going. Lifting and hanging can only be performed to the max when the grip is strong.

3. A strong grip prevents injuries

Activities of daily living needing lifting, pulling, pushing, moving etc can all be affected by a weak grip. The minor discomforts brought about by a weak grip are injuries waiting to happen. When it comes to sports, weightlifting, and training, not having a strong grip will make it impossible for a trainer to perform the activities.

Repetitive motions such as playing tennis, doing bicep curls, and other forms of exercise workouts can cause injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow when the grip is weak.

Best 2 Stretches for Grip Strength Training

Stretching is a vital part of training and can be the difference between an injury or a new personal record. Here are 2 of the best stretches for grip strength:

 

1. Finger Stretching

With your fingers on a flat surface at about hip height, place your palm flat on the surface, wrists facing away from you. Push your arms forward until you feel the friction between your hand and the surface causing a stretch in your forearms, and hold for 15 seconds.

 

2. Palm Stretching

Sit with your forearm flat on a table top, palms facing up. Without raising your arm off the table, raise your hand (and slightly your wrist) off the table, and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat three times. You can then turn so your palms are flat on the table, and do exactly the same.

Importance of the Forearms

 

Improving your grip is largely dependent on the strength of your forearms. Your forearms are made up of a number of muscles situated on both sides of the lower arm. They are responsible for controlling the hands and the wrist. The function of the forearm flexor is to curl the palm down and forward, while the forearm extensor curls the hand back and upward.

The size and shape of our forearms is determined by genetics. On some people who have a long forearm muscle belly, the forearm muscles extend almost to the hand. These people will naturally be stronger than people with short muscle bellies. You can exercise to change the shape of your muscle bellies. But you can definitely make what you’ve got stronger with the right strength exercises.

Conclusion

We have give the the best 5 exercises to improve your grip. Relying on other exercises to indirectly improve your your grip strength is not the best approach.

There are many health and fitness advantages provided by a strong grip. For example, improving your grip will help those looking to develop or define arm muscles and a Harvard Medical School study led by Dr. Darryl Leong found grip strength as an easy way to assess health health.

Studies have shown that those with rotator cuff weakness also had weakness in the hand. Therefore, increasing grip strength leads to an increase shoulder stability and strength.

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Joe (Qualified Personal Trainer & Nutritionist)


Joe Martin is a NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM-CNC) and Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-PST) with over 15 years’ experience in personal training and nutrition. Joe was also a former New York Giants Football Player and has his own fitness website Jerseyjoefitness.com

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