Fitness and weightlifting aside, we actually use our grip strength in our day-to-day life far more than you may think.
Picking up a box, walking the dog, chopping your vegetables, and even driving. You likely call upon your grip strength on an hourly basis!
It becomes even more important when it comes to sport. Think climbing, cricket, golf, or rugby, where grip strength is imperative to performance.
In the context of weightlifting, grip strength is often overlooked. With the increased usage of straps and other grip assists, we’re losing sight of the true benefits of grip strength and what this can mean for our gains.
In fact, focusing on improving your grip strength may even lead to faster, more serious gains in other areas. Think about it, how often has your grip let you down? You may have been able to do a few more pull-ups or deadlifts if your grip wasn’t burnt out, right?
It’s time to shift the narrative and focus on grip strength—something that’s easy to incorporate into your workouts and will be invaluable for your gains!
This article explores 5 easy ways to improve your grip strength, thus helping you maximize your strength and training performance!
Which Muscles Make Up Your Grip?
Firstly, let’s take a look at what muscles make up your grip.
It’s a misconception that grip strength involves only your hands – your grip uses muscles from as far up as your elbow. These muscles include:
- Pronator teres
- Flexor carpi radialis
- Palmaris longus
- Flexor carpi ulnaris
All of these muscles make up your grip strength, not including the small muscles, tendons and ligaments located in your hand which also contribute to overall grip strength.
At one time or another, these muscles are working either collectively or partially to help you crush, punch, support, extend, and grip with your hands.
Improving your grip strength would result in increased strength on pulling movements, increased functionality, and believe it or not, a longer life span!
Let’s take a look at the 5 best ways to improve grip strength!
5 Easy Ways to Improve Grip Strength
1) Reduce the use of straps and other grip aids
The easiest and simplest way to improve your grip strength would be to remove straps and other grip aids from all pulling exercises.
While these do sometimes have a place in training, particularly if you want to get as many reps done as quick as possible (such as during a CrossFit workout), it won’t benefit your grip strength down the line!
Becoming reliant on straps is not always a good idea, so gradually wean yourself off them during your warmups and onto your working sets until you eventually don’t require them.
2) Use thick-handled grips and implements
You can now get fat-grip dumbbells and even handles to implement onto barbells, pull up bars, and other pieces of kit.
These bits of kit really work for improving your mind-muscle connection, enhancing stability, and taxing the fingers, hands and wrists in a very timely manner—a great method for working grip strength!
3) Add some curl variations into your routine
We all love doing bicep curls in the gym, so why not add a variation of this exercise which focuses on your forearms.
Some of the best variants include reverse curls and hammer curls, which greatly work the wrist extensors, therefore working your grip.
4) Squeeze the bar!
This one sounds too simple and obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many of us don’t grip the bar with our full strength. You must be actively squeezing the bar at all times to really maximize the number of reps at the same time as activating your grip strength.
Additionally, gripping and squeezing as hard as you can will actually improve your stability, thus improving your overall technique. Try to compare your regular grip to a hard squeezed grip next time you do a bench press, for example. Notice the improvements in your lift!
5) Introduce farmer’s walks into your training
Farmer’s walks are the absolute king exercise when it comes to grip strength. A popular strongman movement, farmer’s walks are one of the few exercises which really tax the whole body.
You don’t need special strongman equipment to perform this movement. Simply grab a pair of heavy dumbbells, grip them as hard as you can, stabilize your posterior chain, shoulders back, abs engaged, and walk!
You can keep this movement fairly varied using different weights, times, and walking distances, but the key here is to not give into the temptation of using straps!
Other exercises which may also help grip strength include plate pinching, crushing grip tools, and level bar work—easy movements to add into your workouts!
The Final Word
Grip strength is a goal anyone can work on during their weekly workout routine. It’s easy to incorporate, isn’t costly, and won’t take up too much extra time. However, the trade-off is invaluable!
Improving your grip strength would result in improvements in many other areas of your training, so start by taking off the straps and challenging yourself to work on your grip strength every week and reap the rewards!