When the average person gets into bodybuilding and weightlifting, they almost always are interested in building the more ‘sexy’ muscles first: chest, shoulders and arms for men, and glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps for girls.
At first glance, this makes sense. Obviously, you want more “bang for your buck” when you start something new, and getting newbie gains in the most visible places helps to motivate you further.
But as you progress in your weightlifting journey, you’ll start to realize a few timeless truths: squats are your friend, more weight isn’t always better, etc. etc.
One truth that you’ll hopefully learn early on is that Grip Strength, while often overlooked and even neglected by many novices, is an important factor in your physical fitness.
Often times, grip strength can make or break your lift, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that having a strong grip can literally save your life (ask any guys that’s dropped a fully-loaded barbell while bench pressing).
With that in mind, let’s move on to the meat of this article:
How To Increase Your Grip Strength
The most fundamental of all lifts, the deadlift not only works the lower body, but much of the core, back and traps as well.
Most importantly for us, it also works the forearms. Deadlifting allows you to lift the most weight possible, and if you want to build a strong grip, you’ve got to lift some heavy weight.
Deadlifting also allows you to switch up your grip. If you always go with both palms down, change it up and turn one hand out. Or if you usually use the alternating grip, change which hand is facing up/down.
One key point: if you’re going to experiment with grips while deadlifting, it’s best to lower the weight to something that you’re more comfortable with. Don’t try to switch up your grip while also busting a new PR.
This is such a simple exercise that it often gets overlooked, but it’s an incredible strength builder, targeting the muscles in your forearms and hands.
This exercise is done best on a pull-up bar, but can also be done on a squat rack or gymnastics rings.
Most people perform this exercise by grabbing onto a bar as if they were going to do pull-ups, and then hanging for as long as they can without letting their feet touch the ground.
If you want to increase the intensity, you alternate your grip with one hand facing in and the other facing out. Try doing this while hanging for an even greater burn.
You can also wrap the bar with a towel or old t-shirt to increase the diameter, which will make it harder to hold on to.
If this starts to get too easy, try increasing the length of time you’re hanging (we usually recommend starting with 1 min) or even switch to hanging by one hand.
This is such an incredibly simple exercise, and made even easier because of the wide variety of weights that can be used: kettlebells, dumb bells, sand bags, old buckets filled with rocks, etc.
To perform this basic exercise, just hold something in your hands and start walking. Not only will this improve your grip strength, but farmer’s walks are a great stamina-builder.
You can do these anywhere, from your backyard to the park, and even at the gym. If you’re in the gym, you can up the difficulty but performing your farmer’s walks on a treadmill set at an incline.
Old School Grip Strengtheners
Grip strengtheners have been around for a long time, and for good reason: because they work.
These bad boys can be seen in many a gym bag, and are found in just about every fitness store for cheap.
The greatest benefits of these grip strengtheners is their mobility. They can be taken everywhere, not just the gym.
We’ve found that the best place to keep your grip strengtheners isn’t in your gym bag or workout room, but in your car. If you can make it a habit to work your grip while making your morning commute, you’ll see your grip strength improve greatly in no time.
Use a ‘Hook Grip’
Ok, we hear you: this one isn’t technically improving your grip strength. But a hook grip can help you increase how much weight you can carry, especially with the deadlift.
If you’re new to the hook grip, it may take some time to get used to it, so start slow and don’t over do it.
To perform the hook grip, wrap your thumbs over the bar, and then wrap your fingers over your thumbs, pinning your thumbs between the bar and fingers.
Here is a great article on the hook grip.
Use Grenadier Grips
While Fat Grip Training is nothing new, here at Gunsmith Fitness we’ve taken it to a whole new level with Grenadier Grips. Wrap these around the barbell or dumbbell while training, and you’ll increase the size of the bar. Bigger bar = more grip strength.
Using a set of these turns any workout into a grip workout, meaning you won’t have to add grip training to the end of your session.
Bonus Tip: Use Power Grips
If you find your grip is holding you back, you’ll definitely see the benefit in using a pair of our Power Grips. These take the place of gloves, wraps and straps, providing wrist support, hand protection and an increased grip in one piece of equipment.
Pick up a pair of these while you build your grip strength so that you’re not slowing up your progress in your other lifts.
There you have it: 6 (plus 1) ways to improve your grip strength. If you add even a few of these into your routine, you’re guaranteed to see results in a few weeks.
Grip strength will help you lift more weight, and also be beneficial in your everyday life.
See you in the gym!