Exercise physiologists use hand grip dynamometers to measure muscular strength. Although it may seem to be an insignificant measure, there is actually good reason for determining one’s strength in this manner. While performing a weight lifting workout, hand grip strength is vital in executing many exercises. Likewise, weight lifting workouts help increase hand grip strength. Therefore, the two go hand in hand and should be considered as such when planning a workout.
The primary effect that hand grip strength has on a weight lifting workout is in terms of gripping a barbell, dumbbell or other apparatus used in each exercise. A bent-over row requires strength to grip the bar and execute the move. Chin-ups cannot be performed without maintaining a grip on the bar. If you cannot maintain the grip, you will not be able to perform the exercise. Upper body exercises are not the only to benefit from hand grip strength, though. The deadlift is a common lower body exercise that requires tremendous grip strength, especially as the resistance used increases.
When performing a weight lifting exercise, the target muscle is not the only muscle to be worked. Secondary muscles play a very important role. For example, when curling a preacher bar to target the biceps, the forearms engage immediately to lift the bar. Though the biceps are the primary muscle used as they contract to bend the elbow, they would not be able to lift the bar without the forearms. The forearms are secondary in most upper body exercises. Because increasing hand grip strength focuses on increasing the muscles in the forearm, other upper body exercises will also benefit.
Exercises to Improve Hand Grip Strength
If you currently do not have optimal hand grip strength, or even if you have hit a plateau in your weight lifting workout and need something to help you break through, there is no need to fret. There are many exercises that can help strengthen your grip. One you can perform in your own bedroom is fingertip push-ups. While watching the news in the evening, grab a stress ball or rubber ball and squeeze it repetitively to build hand grip strength and endurance. Or perform a static, or isometric, exercise by holding a weighted item in your upward facing palm with your elbows by your side and bent to a 90 degree angle.
Hand Grip Assist Tools
While hand grip assist tools such as straps may help you hold a bar while performing a deadlift or other heavily weighted exercise, relying too heavily on them may compromise your form. Therefore, if you plan to use assist tools, still work on improving your grip strength so you may maintain proper form to prevent injury and increase overall strength.
Hand grip strength is vital to your weight lifting workout in relation to overall strength, proper form and prevention of injury. Whether you include hand grip workouts into your regular gym regime or perform exercises at home, increasing hand grip strength will benefit your workouts as a whole and improve your overall performance in the gym.[stextbox id=”grey” caption=”About the Author”]Whitney Dickinson grew up with a passion for sports and fitness, immersing herself into every sport she could find. She went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science and her Master of Science in Kinesiology. After becoming a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer, she began working as a personal trainer and group exercise instructor, and she eventually owned a personal training studio.[/stextbox]