Strength matters. If your goal is to be a better athlete, you should try to get stronger. Same goes if you are just trying to be good at life. But strength takes time! It takes effort, usually lots of it, over many sessions to push past your current levels. What if I told you that there was a way to quickly and easily add pounds and reps to your presses and pulls. Steroids, you say? Nope, just good old fashioned grip training! Let’s be real for a minute. How many of you honestly train your grip on a regular basis? Try some of the drills in this article, and I guarantee you’ll be stronger than you ever were before. Grip training can be seamlessly added to any training program, with only a few modifications.
Grip training – Why?
- Grip is often the limiting factor on exercises, especially pull ups and the deadlift.
- A stronger grip will allow you to transmit more force into the barbell for presses
- A stronger grip will allow you to keep a tighter upper back on a squat.
- Grip is often the first thing to go during a metcon. Think about how your scores will improve if you don’t have to drop the weight between reps.
- Grip training can be the difference between a game saving tackle and a humiliating touchdown.
- A strong grip may even land you that job you always wanted – a strong grip coveys confidence and power!
Grip training – How?
1. Stop using straps
The easiest way to challenge the grip is to stop trying to enhance your grip with straps and to force yourself to use the double overhand grip whenever you can. If your legs are a lot stronger than your grip, you can use the double overhand grip and then switch to the over under grip as the weight increases during a workout. Each week, try to lift more and more weight with the double overhand grip.You can’t expect to get a better grip by avoiding anything that might challenge it.
2. Start doing barbell holds
This one is simple – stand up with a barbell in your hands, and hold it for time. If you have large hands, or if you like the challenge, add some Fat Gripz on to the bar.
- Add more weight and hold for a set time if max strength is your goal.
- Pick a weight and try to hold it longer each week if your grip lacks endurance.
3. Do more fat bar training
Fat Gripz are your friend. Add a pair to any dumbbell or barbell. Thank me later. They can be added to any exercise that has your hands holding something.
- Fat Gripz provide excellent proprioceptive feedback – basically, the thicker bar is a constant reminder to squeeze the crap out of it. It is a very good habit to develop.
- Fat Gripz also help improve training economy – you can work on your grip at the same time you work on something else. More bang for your buck.
4. Pinch and Hang from odd objects
Variety is your friend when it comes to challenging your muscles, and your grip is no different. I like to do towel pull ups, grenade ball hangs (and pull ups),and plate pinches. Make it hard, and make it burn. The bigger the object’s size, the harder it will be to hold on.
- Have someone time you when doing pinches or hangs and try to beat the time each week.
- Alternatively, if you are doing dynamic movements while gripping an odd object, make sure to record your reps each workout.
- If you can’t make it to The Barn to use the grenade balls, stick to towel hangs – throw a towel over a pull up bar and squeeze the hell out of it.
- Sticking with the theme of Fat Gripz are awesome, add a pair to a pull up bar and hang on!
5. Work on your grip outside of the gym
Nobody made it to Carnegie Hall by practicing 1x a week. If you want a bone crushing grip, you will have to train it out of the gym at some point. The good thing is, it’s really easy to train your grip anywhere! When I was a baseball player growing up, my dad would give me a tennis ball to squeeze whenever I had a chance, and it worked; my grip got stronger. It also had great carry over to football – I was never called for holding, and I held every play. I’ve got news for you, lightly tapping those keyboard keys all day at work isn’t making your fingers or hands any stronger, even if you try really hard to make a lot of noise. Squeeze something!
- Keep a squeeze ball at your desk – a handball or tennis ball will do
- If that gets too easy, buy a gripper
- Shoot for total reps. Once you hit your goal, get a stronger gripper!
Real world programming
If you are going to get in extra grip training, do it later in the workout. I like to add some extra grip work at the end, usually superset with an abdominal exercise. Pick one approach, do it for 4 weeks, and then switch it up. Try it out, and let me know how it goes in the comments!
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