Often Neglected But So Important: Grip Strength

Adequate grip strength is important not only for strength training but also for life. It’s true! There are many longitudinal studies that have looked at grip strength and mortality. The results all come to the same conclusion.

“Grip strength is a simple but powerful predictor of future disability, morbidity, and mortality. The relation between grip strength and future mortality has been shown often. Not only in older people but also in middle-aged and young people. The evidence has been summarized in systematic reviews and in a meta-analysis.”

The Lancet,(2015)

Hand strength is typically used as a measure of overall strength is research. In part, because it’s quick, easy to administer, and extremely cost effective. The association between grip strength and mortality is often used to underscore the importance of resistance exercise.

Ten of the Better Exercises for Improving Grip Strength

Any exercise that requires holding a barbell, kettlebell, dumbbell, or bodyweight, will develop hand and arm strength to some extent. There are certain exercises, however, that are better than others if you’re looking to getting stronger in this area. The first exercise that comes to mind is loaded carry. Here are just a few of the many great exercises you can try:

  • Loaded Carry – This is where you walk with either dumbbells, kettlebells, Hex bar or plates in each hand for time or a specific distance. A suitcase carry is where you load only one side of the body like carrying a suitcase. Ideal for developing full body strength but especially your grip.
  • Plate Pinch – Performed as the name implies. Pick up and hold weight plates in one or both hands for a specific amount of time. Progress from one to two smaller plates before moving to heavier Olympic style plates.
  • Deadlift – Perform as shown in the Jefit photo via the link.
  • Fat Bar Reverse Curl – As the name implies. A thicker bar will recruit more of the muscles in the lower arm that are so important in order to build strength in the four layers of muscles that make up your forearm.
  • Pull-ups/Chin-ups with a towel – When you need to progress from traditional pull-ups or chin-ups, try performing both with a towel hanging over the bar while grasping both ends with your hands. From here you could then progress to a weighted version of both exercises.
  • Sled Pulls – Once again, using a rope or towel. Similar set-up as above but your just pulling in a different direction getting to use that strong, lower extremity of yours.
  • Barbell Finger Rolls – A nice variation to the Plate Pinch, this is where you pick up a heavy plate in each hand. Next, let your fingers slowly extend, lowering the plates toward the floor. Finally, flex the fingers pulling the plates back into the hand. You can progress to a Carry while you do this.
  • Sorinex Gripper – An old Strongman exercise – seen in action here: Grip product
  • Dead Hang – Perform off a pull-up bar for sets of 30/45/60 second – using both arms and eventually progress to making it happen with a single arm. This is great for improving grip strength.
  • Dumbbell Head Grab – A personal favorite of mine. Place two smaller size dumbbells on their sides so one head is facing up. Take hold of the heads with a fully open grip lifting both dumbbells of the floor and hold for 30-seconds. If you have been working out for a while try doing this with either a 35-40 pounds dumbbell for sets of 20-30 seconds. As with some of the other exercises, progress by moving from a standing position to a walk, to squatting or lunging. Enjoy!

Get Strong with Jefit

Join the more than nine million members who’ve had great success using the Jefit app. The award-winning app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

Grip Strength is Important Because It’s Associated With Overall Health

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Research has demonstrated that grip strength can actually predict not only overall health but also all-cause mortality. The definition of all-cause mortality is the death rate from all causes of death for a population in a given time period.

Grip strength is extremely important in the world of working out. It’s needed for every type of exercise, from Olympic lifts to a pull-ups. Adequate grip strength is also needed to get things done around the house. The impact it has on health coupled with valued importance in the gym, makes you wonder why more don’t work on improving it?

Hopefully after reading some of the research presented here, your mindset changes. Most people are not aware of the real value of grip strength, and its importance on overall health. Remember, the old saying, if your grip goes…you go!

Research on Grip Strength

Grip strength is a powerful indicator of upper body strength. Hand strength typically peaks around 30-40 years of age according to one study. There are also gender differences between men and women when measuring grip strength. Hand strength begins to decline in men and women around 50-55 years of age. Low grip strength is associated with a greater likelihood of premature mortality, according to researchers like Bohannon.

Gray and colleagues, in a 2018 study, found hand strength was “strongly associated with a wide range of adverse health outcomes.” Their research concluded lower grip strength was associated with a plethora of health issues. Including, a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and various types of cancer.

A meta-analysis of 42 research papers, and three million participants, found a linear relationship between grip strength and all-cause mortality. In a second study study, handgrip strength was shown to have predictive validity for decline. Specifically, a decline associated with cognition, mobility, and functional ability in older individuals.

Using data from the KNHANES 2015–2016 study, Chong and colleagues looked the association between absolute and relative grip strengths and cardiometabolic outcomes in a Korean adult population stratified by sex and age. Their study suggests that grip strength may be a reliable index to screen for cardiometabolic disease. Thus, grip strength is a biomarker of healthy aging for people of all ages. Finally, it may also be an effective screening tool for various diseases.

How Do You Test and Improve Grip Strength?

One of the best ways to test for grip and arm strength is with a hand dynamometer. The following products are just a few of the many ways to strengthen your grip. One other such example is this unique grip product from Sorinex, that I recently tried and posted video on Jefit Instagram.

Exercises to Improve Grip Strength

As mentioned previously, any exercise that require holding a barbell or dumbbell will develop hand and arm strength to some extent. There are certain exercises, however, that are better than others when looking to become stronger in this area. The first exercise that comes to mind is loaded carry. This is where you walk with either dumbbells, kettlebells, Hex bar or plates in each hand for time or a specific distance. A suitcase carry is where you load only one side of the body like carrying a suitcase. Here are just a few of the many great exercises you can try:

Get Strong with Jefit

Join the more than nine million members who have had great success using the Jefit app. The award-winning app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

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