Train your grip if you want to be strong. If you do anything that involves your hands, grip strength will benefit you.
Grip strength is usually the weak link in upper body strength. No matter what prime mover muscle your using, that power has to be transferred through your hands.
If you want “functional” strength, you must train your grip. Even if you only, or at least mainly, trained the grip muscles, you will be much stronger at everyday things and at certain sports.
Arm wrestling and grappling are two examples where having a strong hand and forearm is your bread and butter. You can even predict with accuracy who will win a wrestling match based on the grip strength of the opponents.
How to train your grip
Grip strength can be broken down into two main parts which are known as “power grip” and “precision grip.” Power grip training is any exercise where the palm touches the training implement. Precision grip training uses only the fingers. Pretty simple.
Train your grip for Power
You’ve probably done some power grip training here and there. A basic wrist curl would be an example, but there are other exercises you should utilize as well.
When you train your grip for power, you’re usually training the forearm, but there’s more to these muscles than flexing and extending the wrist. You have internal and external rotation, as well as lateral flexion and isometric holds.
In other words, to train your grip for power, you have to work all of the angles of the wrist. There are many tools out there, on the internet, that help you train all of these angles, but I like to keep it simple.
I find that one loadable, Olympic size dumbbell will let me train any muscle in my forearm. You would simply put the weight on only one end and your hand on the other end. Now you have a dowel for forearm and grip training.
With this dowel, you can easily perform internal and external rotations as well as any other wrist flexion or extension exercise:
Beyond the rotations and extensions, this is also great for isometric holds with both a power grip (palm touching) and a precision grip (just fingers). You can add more weight to the end as your strength progresses.
Another and even easier way to start your grip strength training is to get some thick grip attachments for your barbells and dumbbells. These are basically pieces of rubber that you can put on just about any handle in the gym. I’ve already covered some of the benefits of thick grip training in Weight Training With Thick Bars for Grappling.
You can use these tools during any pulling exercise to train the grip, or you can just do isometric holds with them. Here is the product:
Fat Gripz are the original, and I don’t recommend going with an unknown as they can be cheap and easily breakable. I’ve had my pair for years, and their just as tough as the day I got them. There’s also a Fat Gripz Extreme version that’s red and a little larger.
Train Your Grip for Precision
With precision grip training, you’re working the fingers specifically. For this, people will use different shaped implements such as a hub grip or a globe grip. You can use the loadable dumbbell for the hub grip where you just grab the end with your fingers.
Pretty much the only way to work your precision grip is with isometric holds for time. In addition to the hub grip, a pinch grip is one you can do in most gyms. If your gym has some plates that aren’t rubber coated, you can hold two plates together with just your fingers.
This is a good exercise to demonstrate how important it is to train your grip. Try taking two, 45 pound plates. Face them towards one another so you have a completely flat surface to grab. Take it with one had and try to lift it off the floor. You’ll probably find that someone welded it to the ground, or at least it feels that way.
Normally, a 90 pound deadlift is child’s play, but when you put the emphasis on the grip, you find that your strength is useless. That is why it’s so important for both grappling sports and a lot of every day life to train your grip. Grip strength is the real functional strength. If your grip is weak, then you are weak.
There’s a company called Watson Gym Equipment in the UK that makes all kinds of great grip training tools. The prices are a little up there, but you do get what you pay for. I have a few of their training implements, and I can attest that the quality is top-notch. If you’re interested, you can find their products on their website. They have a lot of great specialty bars as well.
Train Your Grip for BJJ
Coming from an martial arts background, I have to put this one in here. But this training technique isn’t just good for grappling. It’s a staple for any grip training routine, and it’s SO EASY to add to your own training. All you need is a small towel.
Training your grip should be done with a variety of different size implements because being strong at one width doesn’t mean you are strong at all of them. Towel pull ups are one of the best ways to strengthen the smallest hand position.
Learn More About How to Train Your Grip
Unfortunately, I can’t put everything in this post, but there are plenty of resources for you to use. There’s a channel on YouTube called Joe Musselwhite dedicated to grip training. His videos are very informative, and you can tell he’s a really nice guy.
There’s also a book that comes highly recommended called Mastery of Hand Strength by John Brookfield. I have this book, and it’s full of great, at-home methods to train your grip. John is a Strongman who’s made a career out of teaching other Strongmen. This book covers what he teaches.
Well that’s all for now. Thanks for reading,