Why offer any consideration to grip strength? For a bodybuilder, grip strength isn't essentially that important. However, for those of you involved with other strength sports such as wrestling or martial arts, grip strength is an advantage that merits some consideration.
Types of grip strength
- Crushing grip strength: giving a firm handshake is an example of crushing strength.
- Supporting grip strength: being able to apply crushing strength on an item and maintain it for a period of time.
- Pinch grip strength: grasping and lifting an item placed between your thumb and a finger is an example of pinch gripping strength.
- Wrist strength: lifting a chair by grasping one of the front legs (while keeping it level) is an example of wrist strength.
Exercises for development in grip performance should be specific to the needs of the athlete. Why the need for specific grip training? Even is grip strength is satisfactory, surplus strength can be used to your advantage. Surplus hand strength will give you self-assurance to pull with maximum strength with no fear of losing your grip.
There are quite a few excellent methods for developing grip strength. At the gym, you can grasp a couple of 10 lb. Olympic plates, letter sides facing in, between your thumb and fingers. You can also use lifting straps or chalk.
Straps are fixed firmly around your wrists and twisted around a bar to strengthen your grip in exercises where grip is your weakest link. Hand strength will not increase as quickly if you use straps, but this may be worth the value of being able to lift heavier weights, which will result in a better-developed back. Evaluating the opportunity cost of straps mainly depends on individual inclination, and you can get great results with or without including them in your cache of bodybuilding aids.
Try not to use straps unless you dead lift or do heavy bent over rows. You can save them for stuff like the last and heaviest set on your back movements, or stiff legged dead lifts on leg day. Don't use gloves, as you won't feel the bar, and the padding will only make your grip thicker, and if you try dead lifting with thick bars, they will make things harder instead of easier. Instead, invest in chalk, and keep dead lifting and shrugging heavy with no straps.
Another way to improve your grip strength is to think like a monkey and hang from stuff – any stuff. One handed, both hands, it doesn't matter. Rope climbing is also one of the best exercises for grip strength. You can also try wrist curls and reverse wrist curls, plus some pinch lifting and finger extensions. Another exercise that is cheap, readily available and works very well is this: soak a bath towel, and using various grips and twists, wring it out as dry as possible.
You'll find that about half of the people in the gym do pull-downs using an underhand grip and the other half use a "false" or overhand grip. Both methods will cause your fingers to open and the bar to slip outwards, towards your fingertips, as you get tired. A simple tip is to wrap the thumb over the middle and index fingers. Use the thumb to press down firmly on the fingers and hold them in place. This will ensure a firm grip on the bar.
Forearm Development And Grip Strength
Usually bodybuilders and other strength athletes are not asked how much they can grip – the typical line of questioning appears to be around much one can bench, or how big one's biceps are. However, grip training can greatly influence the amount of weight lifted, for all upper body movements, and build up the forearms to such an extent that other people will be driven to do a double take.
Substantial forearm growth is commonly recognized as one of the trademarks of a total bodybuilder/strength athlete. The forearms also improve grip strength, and consequently assist with pulling exercises. In terms of developing forearms, it is recommended that specific training be carried out if excellent results are desired. As with calves, it is a case of training them hard and often.
You can train your forearms with this device: take a 2" dowel, about 3 feet long. Drill a hole in the middle, and put a 3' rope through it. Tie weights to the end of the rope. Roll the dowel with your hands, winding the rope and bringing the weights up, and then back to the ground.
Table Curls With Plates
All you need to begin are some plates and a table. Grab a plate with your thumb on top and your four fingers on the bottom and let your arm lie on the table. Pull or curl the plate up towards your chest until it is pointing straight up in the air. Then lower the plate back down to the starting position. Continue to curl the plate up and down. Table curls with plates will work your fingers intensely, as the extended plate works against your wrists and fingers, trying to bend them down and back.
Grip strength is frequently used as a gauge of general strength and fitness in the medical world. Your hand, including the fingers and palm, and your forearms, including your wrists, are the two areas of your body that contribute to grip strength.