One of the most overlooked areas of strength in training is grip strength. Your grip strength can really make a huge difference in your workout and in your everyday life. It may seem like a small thing but it is these little details that can really enhance your training.
Why Should You Improve Grip Strength?
Grip strength is said to be a good indicator of overall body strength, muscular endurance as well as heart health. The stronger your grip strength, the lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Not only that but working on improving this area can also prevent further injuries to your wrist and elbow. This is especially important to those who play sports that involve a lot of hand movements such as climbing, tennis (tennis elbow) or golf (golfers elbow).
Does your grip tend to give out first?
Weak grip strength can also become a limiting factor in training, especially strength training. If you have a weak grip, then you may find that your grip fails during an exercise even if you are capable of doing more. For example, while you have the arm strength to do another pull-up, your grip strength may prevent you from doing this, or if you can do another deadlift, your hands may fatigue before your legs/back first.
Three Grip Types and Exercises to Improve Grip Strength
There are three grip types: crush grip, pinch grip and support grip. To improve grip strength and have a well-rounded grip, it is important to practice exercises that involve all three.
This is what people usually think of when they hear the word “grip”. It involves the area between your palm and fingers – think of a handshake.
Exercises to improve crush grip strength:
Use hand strengthening devices – There is an array of hand strengthening devices on the market that you can use that are relatively cheap as well.
You can use hand grippers or even a stress ball. Squeeze and hold for a few seconds before releasing. This is an easy and simple exercise that you can do while at your desk or even watching TV.
This grip refers to the hold between your fingers and thumb. It typically does not involve the palm.
Exercises to improve pinch grip strength:
Plate Pinch – Rest two weighted plates together on the floor between your finger and thumb. Pick it up while you stand up, with your elbows slightly bent. Hold the plates for as long as you can before putting it gently back on the ground.
Plate Orbit – Hold two weighted plates together in the pinch grip. Pass the plate to your other hand in front of your body and then vice versa, this time behind your body in a clockwise direction, then change directions. You can gradually increase the weight or number of plates as your grip strength improves.
Sandbag Deadlifts – Use a commercial sandbag or make your own by filling a duffle bag with sand. Then try to pick it up like you are doing a deadlift. The key here is to not use the handles; pinch the material instead.
The support grip is the form your hand takes when you are holding something like a grocery bag.
Exercises to improve support grip strength:
Farmer’s Carry – This involves picking up and holding on weights with both hands (one on each side) and walking from point A to point B. This may sound easy but if you lift heavy weights, you will definitely feel it. You can use different equipment such as dumbbells or kettlebells.
Dead Hang – Hold onto a pull-up bar and hang until your grip fails. Make sure that your arms are straight.
Varied pull-ups – Doing pull-ups can really help improve grip strength, especially as you are using your entire body for this exercise, naturally adding weight. Try changing your grips so you can exercise different parts of your hand. You can also try thumbless pull-ups, add a weighted belt or hold a dumbbell between your legs.
Our wrists and forearms become weaker when the object we are holding has a larger width, so you should try to use a thicker bar for these exercises. If there is only a thin bar available, then try wrapping your towel around it.
Don’t Wear Gloves
Another thing that you should know is that if you want to improve grip strength, you should not wear gloves. Yes, you will get callouses on your hands and your skin will go hard but it is the best way to enhance strength in your hands and toughen your skin.
Grip strength is such an integral component in training even though gym goers tend to overlook it. But now that you know how important it is and how to improve grip strength, you may be able to see changes in your training for the better!
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