Develop Your Grip Strength

Developing grip strength is important in a weight training program, especially if you are a strength athlete, such as a powerlifter, weightlifter, or strongman. Nevertheless, developing grip strength is valuable to those not participating in contests of strength; you may be trying to condition your grip for adventure sports like rock climbing, rehabilitate an injured hand(s), or reverse the effects of aging and the pain of repetitive strains. Four fingers and an opposable thumb are quite remarkable; don’t take your hands for granted!

Strength athletes have specific grip concern for their sports, such as the necessity of a vise-like hold on a conventional diameter bar set into the palm during the deadlift portion of a powerlifting or push-pull meet. Strongmen might be expected to sustain their grip on 800 pounds if they encounter an event such as a deadlift-and-hold. The tendency of big weight to uncurl the fingers or peel the fist is tremendous.

Weak hands hold back lifters and using straps that help in shrugging, pulling, and rowing typically makes hands dependent on this aid and, thus, weaker in the long run. Adding grip exercises into a weight training program isn’t that difficult and it’s easy to improvise when special grip strength equipment is unavailable. Grip training will strengthen, ensure flexibility, and improve dexterity in the hands.

There are different types of grip beyond just making a fist. There are the following distinct grips:

  • Crushing/vise grip is a closed hand grip taken on objects that can fit in the palm of the hand and be mostly or fully enclosed by all the fingers. A crush grip allows us to easily exert a lot of force, securely holding or hanging onto things for the longest time. This is the grip used on most bars in the weight room.
  • Semi-crushing/hook grip is an open hand grip where the fingers can’t come quite as close to making a clenched fist. This grip involves the thumb. Think of a blacksmith grabbing an anvil by the horn.
  • Pinch grip can be a closed or an open hand grip as it may be precise or it may be even more open than the semi-crushing grip. The thumb is vital in the pinch grip. Think of holding a sheet of paper by your fingertips or palming a basketball.
  • Hook grip is an open hand grip where the thumb is excluded. Think of a climber hanging from a ledge where perhaps only the tips of the fingers are able to bend.

Of course, fingers and thumbs not only close, but open. The opening and spreading is known as extension. Training extension must be done to balance hand development.

Commonly available items and activities can be incorporated into a weight training program to affect positive changes in both grip strength and hand fitness.

ImplementGrip Worked
Lifting, pulling, rowing, and shrugging without strapsCrush grip
Coiled spring hand grippersCrush grip
Racquet/tennis ball squeezeSemi-crush grip
Spongy stress ball squeezeCrush to semi-crush grip
Spongy stress ball fingertip pinch[Closed hand] pinch grip
Squash ball fingertip pinch[Closed hand] pinch grip
Picking up multiple bar plates with one hand[Open hand] pinch grip
Thick, heavy book lift[Open hand] pinch grip
Palming a basketball or medicine ball[Open hand] pinch grip
Lifting bar plates by their rimHook grip
Practicing pianoHook grip
Practicing guitarHook grip to [closed hand] pinch grip
Guitar spring tension training toolHook grip to [closed hand] pinch grip
Closing fingers in sand at the beachCrush, semi-crush, and pinch grip
Spreading fingers in sand at the beachExtension
Expand elastic bands wrapped on fingertipsExtension

All the rules and principles of training – like warming up, sets and repetitions, progression, intensity, resting, and so on – one might associate with training other body parts apply to training the hands too. Using these exercises will develop your grip strength and improve performance in other grip-affected areas of your weight training program and everyday hand function.

[stextbox id=”grey” caption=”About the Author”]Michael Chapdelaine is a professional writer and a drug free, health-conscious athlete. He is both an equipped and a raw powerlifter who has competed in the American Powerlifting Federation (APF), United States Powerlifting Federation (USPF), and with USA Powerlifting (USAPL). Michael has qualified for and competed in national and international events such as the 2010 Raw Nationals, the 2011 Arnold Raw Challenge, and the 2011 State Games of America.[/stextbox]

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  1. Dale Blackwell March 23, 2012
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