Grip strength measures how hard you can squeeze your hand. Let's look at which grip strength exercises are effective and which are a sham!
Our least favourite grip strength exercises are those which use a silly bracket to hold your arm in. practical methods of training do not use machines, since they do not replicate any part of real life!
Best 4 exercises for Grip Strength:
1. Farmer Carry - this is a great upper body exercise which uses grip as a part of the whole unit. Though this is typically done with kettlebells, dumbbells work just fine, as well. Grab a pair in each hand, stand tall with both shoulders back, and shoulder blades tight to your back. Contract the abdominals and walk a distance of between 20 and 40 metres. Not only is the shoulder and core working, but so is grip! If you feel it is not too bad, use a heavier weight. The weight used should be fairly heavy and challenging!
2. Deadlifts - that's right! The classic lower body strength movement also happens to be a great one for grip. Wasn't it obvious, though? Notice that all powerlifters use straps to attach their hands to the bar after a particular weight. This is because the muscles pulling the bar off the floor are developing stronger than the lifters grip strength. Seems odd, though… if you want a stronger grip, take the bar with a pronated grip on both hands (rather than inverted grip), facing palms down. Deadlift only what your hands can hang on to!
3. Pull ups - I dare any gym jock to try 50 pull ups with a pronated or supinated grip (palms forward or backwards) and not complain about sore muscles in the forearms! Similar to deadlifts and farmer carry, pull ups are a practical way of training grip, incorporating them into the training program without setting aside a machine and specific exercises to do so!
4. Toes to Bar - this is the complete version of a hanging leg raise. Rather than raising the knees alone, you'll be hanging from a pull up bar and lifting your toes up to the hands, aiming to touch the pull up bar overhead with your feet! A great way to target abs and grip strength together. Try for 30 reps of this and you might be crawling back to dumbbells looking for the ease and simplicity of dumbbell forearm curls!
How to organize these into your program
The simple way of adding grip strength training is to just add these variations into the program you are already following. For example, on core and shoulder day, add in farmer Carry. On legs / posterior chain day, leave the straps behind and perform neutral/ pronated grip deadlifts.
The same goes for pull ups and toes to bar. All of these are highly functional, fun, and challenging bodyweight exercises. They'll accelerate your performance and coordination!
Finally, don't forget to allow for rest if you are feeling muscle soreness in the forearms which lasts more than a day or two.
Amino Z personal trainer