Olympic Weight Lifters take an unusual grip on the bar to secure their grip and it is called the Lock Grip. This is attained by firstly wrapping their thumb around the bar then placing their fingers over top of it. Although this is a very secure grip (opossing strength between thumb and the middle finger) it actually does not help in developing strong hands. There are many sports and jobs that having strong hands is an advantage and if you are into training methods such as Cross Fit building grip strength is a key component of making improvements.
So what type of exercise will help in attaining better grip strength? This depends on what type of grip strength you want to improve because you have dynamic and static grip strength as well as strength endurance to consider – so developing one type of grip strength may be be appropriate for your needs.
- To keep it simple for dynamic grip strength you can use one of the many grip strength devices you can buy in any sports store (see photo above). Hold it in one hand with your arm straight at your side and slightly away from your body. Using speed, squeeze it as quickly as you can and release it immediately. Repeat the movement for a total of 12 – 20 repetitions before repeating with the other hand. Try to pause between each repetition and complete 3 – 4 sets.
- For basic static strength there are several variations of wrist curl exercises that develop hand and forearm strength. For variation use the various types of bars, Dumbbells or even Kettle Bells or cables. Concentrate on completing a full movement with the basic wrist curl exercise by straightening your fingers until the bar at their tips. From there, roll your fingers up before flexing your wrist and pause at the top of the movement before reversing the sequence in the negative phase of the exercise. Ensure that your forearms remain flat on your thighs or on the bench throughout the exercise. You don’t need to use a heavy resistances and for optimum strength the set/rep. range should be between 6×6 to 4 x 12.
- For grip endurance there are several exercises and their variations to use. A simple one is to hold two weight plates out in front of you with your arms straight and close to your body. A good idea is to keep your feet wide enough apart as to not have them under the weights in case of mishap! Hold the weights in the described position for 30 – 60 seconds. Increase the weight of the plates when you find this easy. Do three lots of 30 – 60 second holds. Other exercises you can do for grip endurance that add other components of strength endurance into the mix are the various forms of Farmers Walk.
How important is grip strength? Well, if you want to do the pull up exercise the main aspect of strength that holds you back is the strength of your grip. Even everyday movements such as opening the lid of a jar depends upon grip strength. I see it as a crucial part of the strength program.