A strong grip and well-developed forearms do more than just twist stubborn lids off pickle jars. A strong grip will aid you in golf, cage fighting and in every athletic endeavor in between. Furthermore, frequently in strength training, the grip is the weakest link.
The simplistic solution offered by strength gurus is to simply “ditch the wrist straps” on all exercises. This may improve your grip strength, but it means sacrificing the effectiveness of several other exercises. Shrugs are performed to work your traps and rows to work your back, so wearing straps make sense to maximally overload these muscles.
The best way to build a strong grip is to directly train it. We consulted world-renowned grip expert and ISSA certified trainer, Joe Musselwhite, on how to best do this while adding minimal time to your existing routine. Joe advises implementing the following five strategies to build a solid grip without sacrificing the effectiveness of traditional exercises or time.
1. Hold tight
At the end of any movement, squeeze the bar as hard as humanly possible for 6-8 seconds. Do this towards the end of your workout. Three to five sets of these full-effort squeezes are plenty to start on the road to improving your grip strength.
2. Walk tall
Do three sets of farmer’s walks with dumbbells for 15-30 seconds, remembering to drive through your heels, keep your back straight and your head up as you lift. For a more intense stimulus, Joe advises using Fat Gripz or even a towel.
3. Hang on
Complete deadlift overhand holds for three sets of 15 seconds. Using a double overhand grip in a locked out deadlift position, slowly let the barbell roll down to just short of your finger tips and statically hold this position for 15 seconds.
4. Don’t rush
At the end of a training session, before putting the plates up, perform static holds with two plates. They may be 25s, 10s, 5s or 2.5s – scale according to your strength level at the time. Perform three sets of static plate pinch for as long as you can manage.
5. Double up
Start taking your plates back and forth to the weight trees by grasping two plates at a time with smooth sides out for a great pinch grip workout for the thumb flexors. Joe emphasized that thumb strength is the center-piece to your overall grip strength.
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