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Grip strength is probably one of the first shows of force you exhibit, Have you ever witnessed a new baby grip your finger tight? They certainly don’t need to know how to build grip strength !
From this pure beginner level, we gradually develop a grip which will allow you to be remarkable.
Are you able to open this jar for me?
Could you carry this?
Why to build grip strength
A firm grip will give you a better first impression, as in “He has a firm handshake” and “A strong grip shows you’re in control and have a grip on life”, Due to this, we are to look into how to build grip strength and maintain it, ensuring you have a robust and sturdy grip is critical for everybody. Having a good hold is vital in many sports, including but not limited to, Judo, CrossFit, tennis, bodybuilding, rock climbing or motorsport.
Medically speaking grip strength is often used as an indicator of overall strength and health and also shows how important it is to your overall health. A study of healthy middle-aged men demonstrated by the Honolulu Heart Program highlighted that low handgrip strength was able to predict disability 25 years later.
Having a secure grip is essential in all martial arts. If you are grappling, your grip must give you the ability to hold on to and throw your opponent; you also need to be able to place them in various locks. You must have powerful fingers, wrists, and forearms to prevent injury. Strength in these areas need to be convincing when you are delivering blows trying to subdue your opponent.
Below, we will look at the different types of grip and how to build strength within your fingers and wrists. While developing these areas, you will see improvements in other areas of exercise, e.g.Being able to hang on a pull-up bar longer, hold on to that Deadlift bar with heavier weights and more importantly, you will be able to open jars of pickles with ease.
Types of grip strength
Three types of Grip strength exist :
- Gripping: holding on to shopping bags, Weights or clinging to ledges, Bars or Rings
- Crushing: shaking hands, or squashing things with the whole hand
- Pinching: squishing something between your fingertips or “pinching.
We will show below how to build grip strength with these three key areas.
Anatomy of grip strength
A sturdy grip does not solely rely on the muscles of the hands, yet uses the large muscles located within the forearms. These forearm muscles allows for superior grip strength while not interfering with the range of motion of all your fingers.
Most people train their gripping strength by performing pulling movements (i.e. pull-ups, deadlifting, etc.). This type of gripping power shows us our ability to hold onto a weight “Gripping” only. We have to remember that only performing these singular movements could restrict your range of motion. This will reduce how functional you are in other activities. Therefore, it would be prudent to include some thick grip work. Using a thick bar and some thin grip work using straps or a small bar or balls, and these slight differences will train grip strength throughout the hand’s full range of motion.
Favorite exercises for grip strength
We will look into my favorite exercises to build grip strength, and you will notice I have split the workouts into three areas
- No Equipment
- Every day or cheap fixes
- Gym equipment required
There’s a lot of exercises that develop your grip strength, and we will run through a few simple ones below.
No equipment required
Improvements in your grip strength can be achieved without any fancy machines, and below you will find how to build grip strength and get great results with no equipment at all.
Place your palms flat on a surface and lift each finger as high as possible. Start with your index finger and move each finger in its full range of motion. Finger extensions is an excellent warm-up and help you coordinate your mind as each digit is lifted. The bonus is you can complete this with both hands either independently or together.
Make a fist and clench it as tightly as possible for one second, and then stretch your fingers out as wide as you can. Repeat as often as possible, extending the length of time for each workout. Once you can perform for 30 seconds, progress to adding a gripper workout.
The isometric pinch is a variation on the above but using the pinching movement – Pinch your index finger and thumb together tightly initially for one second, and then spread them out as far as possible. Repeat for the other fingers. You can perform this using both hands at the same time to save time. Continue as often as possible, extending the length of time for each workout. Once you reach 30 seconds, I would suggest adding weight and pinching this in an attempt to keep it off the ground.
Similar to regular push-ups, except you hold yourself up on your fingertips. These could be too tricky start with,If so doing fingertip push-ups against a wall is a great alternative. If you struggle to perform a push-up head on over to a beginner push up workouts Once you can complete ten using all your fingers, try using fewer fingers and when you can perform it using one finger you will officially be awesome.
Can complete a finger tip push up ? Then why not try fist push-ups. These require more support of the wrist and are a great way to increase the stability necessary.
Everyday equipment or cheap fixes
During your progression and us showing you how to build grip strength , some exercises could get too dull, As you improve you can also try adding a few items that are used day to day and can be found lying around your house or office. These workouts are well adapted to building up your grip strength, beyond the initial exercises and show you don’t need to spend a fortune. A lot of the items found lying around will give you a firm grip but do not fret If you do not have a particular item. Experiment with what you can locate.
Pick up two heavy buckets or containers with handles (fill them with water, sand, gravel to your desired weight) and wander around with them hanging by your side. Hold on as long as possible and try to beat your time every workout.
Repeat 3 – 4 days a week on alternate days and once you reach a ten-minute mark, add more weight and repeat.
Lay a sheet of paper out on a flat surface, place your hand on top and squash it into a ball with one side only, starting in one corner drawing the paper toward you, Newspapers work well due to its size and thinness. To make this excise as effective as possible, you must keep your hand stationary and only use your fingers to pull the paper into the ball you are building in your fist. Once the whole sheet is inside your fist, squeeze it as tightly as you can until it’s compressed fully. Repeat with the other side.
Bottle cap bending
After opening up a bottle of beer or pop, attempt to bend the cap in half between your index finger and thumb. As an added incentive, why not make a game of it and challenge your friends.
How many can you bend in a fixed amount of time or till you can bend no more?
Expanding a rubber band
Wrap the rubber band around your fingertips and spread them out against the rubber band’s resistance. Increase the strength by double wrapping the rubber band or tying a knot in it. Complete till exhaustion.
Rubber ball squeezing
The time-honored exercise of squash and tennis players everywhere; take a ball and squeeze it in your hand as hard as possible. Tennis, squash or even stress balls work well – Increase the resistance ( more dense ball) or length of time you squeeze.
Brick pinch lift
Pick up a “brick” or similar object by pinching it between your fingertips and thumb and walk around with it at your side.
Start by picking up a single “Brick ” and timing how long you can hold without dropping it. Perform this exercise for longer and longer periods. I would suggest when you can carry a single brick for 10 Minutes move to two and so on and so on. Once multiply “bricks” are too cumbersome move on to Gym weights, Kettlebells, sledgehammers etc. Experiment with different size grips and weights.
A leverage bar is a stick with a weight on one end. Think sledgehammer. Grasp the bar by the non-weighted end or handle and swing it around with just your wrist muscles.
Grip tightly and stay under control
Hold the “sledgehammer” with your arm at your side, so it is hanging close to your body (pointing forwards). Slowly move your wrist up and down, as if you are hammering something. If a sledgehammer is too heavy, move your hand closer to the weighted end or try a regular hammer, or a broom.
Do the same movement with the bar’s weight end pointing behind you.
Start with 5 -10 swings for three sets – Repeat with the other hand.
Achieve progress by either increasing weight or the distance your hand is from the weight or number of swings each workout.
One-hand chair lift
These may seem odd, but it does progress you towards weighted kettlebell or leverage bar vertical holds well. Pick up a chair or stool by a single leg, grasp the leg as close to the floor as possible. Start with a back leg as it is slightly more manageable. The centre of gravity will work with you as your progress to move to a front leg. The aim is to lift and hold the chair, keeping
the seat area level. Add a glass of water to the seat for added motivation.
Increase the length of time each session and progress by adding weight if and when needed. A chair lift is a great exercise due to the constant small adjustments required to keep the chair steady.
Gym equipment required
Some times you have to admit that a little gym equipment is required for maximum results and below we will shows you how to build grip strength with equipment you can find in most gyms.
Weight plate pinching
These are awesome for developing the forearms, hands and grip. Any weights can be used, but id start with the smallest you have and build up time and eventually, the weights used. Make sure you do not cheat and grip the rough side – Ensure your fingers pinch the smooth side of the plates. This is generally not a concern if you use bumper plates which are smooth both sides.
Hold a plate of the same weight in each hand and let them hang ( see Farmers lift above. As you get used to the weight, you can hold them in different ways. Doing this will get you more of a full-body workout at the same time. Try front and side raises or even swinging the plates up and down for a tougher challenge, but remember to keep things in control.
Perform 8 – 10 reps of side, front raises and bent over lifts for a great way to fry your shoulders, traps and hands!
An old school routine which was shown to me, I was sceptical but,Boy it works the hands and forearms unlike anything I’ve tried before, If you have enough rice and a big enough bowl you can perform using both sides at the same time or punch one hand and then the other through the rice.
Dig your hand as deep into the rice as possible and then clench your fists tight under the rice while pulling up rice. Repeat with speed and high reps until you can’t close your hands anymore.
Another old school work out not seen very often is towel pull up. This works your grip and helps you develop pulling strength and is a very effective way to works the grip by ensuring you are functionally active in the whole gripping and pulling range of motion.
As a progression, it is good to place both hands on one towel or one hand on the bar and one hand on the towel. Mix these up regularly to stop the exercise becoming stale. If you are not able to perform a pull-up, you can attach a towel to a rope and then to a weight and sling it over the pull-up bar, Sit on the floor and lift the load vertically and hold on tight for as long as possible. Repeat with each hand.
Twist yo wrist
Wow what a fantastic unique tool for working the fingers, hands and wrists. You twist the roller so that only your fingertips roll the weight, or you can press your palm into the roller. Both work great. I have found the wrist rollers to be great for improving grip endurance as well as increasing the size of the forearms.
Fat bar hang
Fat bar hangs performed by wrapping a towel or taping a barbell or pull up bar. You hold the bar as tightly as possible for a given period. Progress by adding more weight or holding on for longer.
Club or kettlebell swings
This type of swinging exercise that is great for a lot of things like a crushing grip and wrist strength. I perform the classic activities like Double Swipe, Single and double-handed swings and Mills all for high reps, and you will feel significant benefits for the whole body as well as getting a superior workout of your grip.
To achieve a crushing strength to your grip, you will need a set of hand grippers or try thin grip training (strap holds), for thin grip training you will need a pair of lifting straps. Attach the straps to either some dumbbells or a barbell, Secure the straps and hold tightly, making sure they do not slip through your fingers. Hold for a set period either standing still or performing a farmers walk.
Nothing is more demoralising (or dominating) than a superior grip. Whether in a combative sport, a physical altercation, a fairground test of strength or even making a lasting impression with a firm handshake, grip strength is of utmost importance. Grip strength can be enhanced in many ways. One can purchase the latest modern gimmick, or one can make do with what you have. I like to keep it simple; what is the purpose of a grip? To grasp something and control it, not just hold on, for the duration of time. Mix it up and do not rely on one single workout or piece of equipment.
Let me know below your best and worst experience with grip strength or your reasons for wanting to improve it. I hope I have been able to show you that it is possible to reach your goals.
Hopefully we have been able to show you how to build grip strength but if you have any questions please share them below .
Owner and author at shortandintense.com , 25 years as a quality and health and safety professional with an in-depth knowledge of functional and corrective exercises. IHoS registered,lead auditor, personal trainer and human movement specialist.