If you want to improve your strength across the board you need to improve your grip strength.
Why is your grip strength so important? Well, it all boils down to a concept called muscular irradiation.
Here’s how it works: when you make a fist with your hand it’s not just the muscles of your hand and forearm that contract. The muscular contraction actually radiates down the hand and up the forearm to include your bicep, tricep, pec, and shoulders. With all of these muscles contracting and working together you are able to generate much more strength. This is a basic principle of human physiology.
This is why powerlifters encourage you to “crush the bar” with your grip when performing an exercise like the bench press or deadlift.
It’s the same reason why contracting your abs and your glutes when you lift (e.g. squat, deadlift, powerclean etc.) makes you stronger. It all comes back to the concept of muscular irradiation.
Now that you understand the importance of having stellar grip strength I’m sure you’re interested in how best to build it.
The following are my top 3 ways to build incredible grip strength:
Rope and/or towel pull ups
Rope pull ups are my favourite way to build grip strength. If you train at a legit gym chances are you have a manila climbing rope lying around somewhere. Use it. It’s a great way to build tremendous grip strength.
For those of you who train at home, I recommending buying an inexpensive manila rope. A good place to order one online is from Knot & Rope Supply. A 1.5″ manila rope will cost you $1.85 per foot. That’s a pretty good deal.
I recommend buying a 3-4 foot piece and wrapping it around your power rack as demonstrated in this video.
In the video you can see that Ross uses several different ropes of varying diameter. You can find all of these sizes at Knot & Rope Supply.
The other option is using an old towel (which you can see in the video). Towel pull ups are also great to build grip strength. Feel free to incorporate both the rope and the towel into your pull up training.
Farmer’s walks and/or high rep db walking lunges
Another great way to build grip strength is by carrying heavy loads over a distance by doing things like farmer’s walks and heavy db walking lunges.
If you don’t know what a farmer’s walk is here’s an example:
You’re basically carrying a heavy load for distance. How heavy and how far you go is up to you. I favor using a slightly lighter load and carrying it for a longer distance. Not only does this challenge your grip but you’ll also get a great cardiovascular workout too.
For those of you who don’t know, the type of bar he’s using in the video is called a trap bar or a hex bar. Chances are you have one at your gym as well.
If you train at home I highly recommend adding a trap bar to the mix. Definitely worth the money.
Another worthy exercise to incorporate into your routine if you’re looking to build grip strength is high rep db walking lunges.
Here’s what those look like:
I suggest you do at least 20 total reps (10 reps per leg). I usually shoot for 30-50 total reps (15-25 reps per leg). The beauty of this exercise is that not only will it challenge your grip but you’ll also be smashing your glutes and hamstrings and getting a tremendous cardiovascular workout all at the same time.
Fat gripz allow you to turn any barbell or dumbbell into a great grip building tool. These things work by snapping over the bar in order to increase its diameter. This makes the bar much more challenging to grip.
Fat gripz come in a couple of different sizes. The standard blue are 2.25″ in diameter while the red ones are 2.75″ in diameter. I recommend going with the blue. The are plenty thick to give your grip a challenge.
You could use these just for doing pull ups or chin ups or incorporate them into basically every barbell or dumbbell exercise you do.
Having a strong grip is not only essential for having a great handshake but its integral to developing strength from head to toe. Use these exercises and tools to rapidly improve your grip and watch your strength in the gym soar.
Here’s to staying fit!