Handy exercises to train your grip
Think about how often you use your hands. Every time you grab, pick up, carry or hold something you are using hundreds of muscles in your hands, fingers and forearms.
We often think of big pulling movements such as the deadlift or clean as purely driven by the bigger muscle groups of the body, such as the glutes, hamstrings, back and quads. We forget it is our hands that provide the contact between us and the bar and therefore, we need a certain amount of grip strength to begin with. It’s often our grip that fails or gives out first when we are doing a workout requiring multiple reps.
Training the muscles for a strong grip is just as important as any other exercise, you do. Here’s a few of my favourite moves and workouts I regularly use to target my hands and forearms.
The farmers carry is so simple it almost seems a little ridiculous. Pick up an object – dumbbells or kettlebells work great for this and carry it by your side. You can carry a lighter weight a longer distance or load up with a super heavy weight and walk a shorter distance. A simple, super effective workout is to carry two x 32kg kettlebells 400 metres.
The plate pinch works the muscles of your hand. Grab a weight plate between your thumb and your fingers and either walk or simply stand and hold it. One of my favorite workouts using the plate pinch is a Tabata, a highly popular form of high intensity interval training with eight rounds focusing on a specific exercise for 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off. The key is to choose a weight that you can hold for the full 20 seconds each time.
Hanging from a pull-up bar is a great way to build your grip endurance, particularly when it comes to bodyweight movements like muscle-ups or toes to bar. Just as the name states, all you do is hang from a bar or ledge. I like to aim for a pre-determined time, generally three to five minutes, or if I’m feeling really adventurous, I’ll strive for 10 minutes.