What do carrying your groceries, steering your car, and brushing your teeth all have in common? They require grip strength.
Think about it ... when you're carrying groceries, your hand is wrapped tightly around the handles of the bag to prevent yourself from dropping them.
When you're steering your car, your hands are gripped firmly on the steering wheel to change directions.
When you brush your teeth, your hand is gripped on the brush to guide the bristles on your teeth.
Obviously, these are only a few examples of daily activities that require a strong grip. The truth is, you are using grip strength to help with a ton of day to day tasks.
On top of that, having a strong grip can also help with your workouts too. But, what does it take to build grip strength?
Well, that's exactly what I'd like to talk about...
What is Grip Strength?
Grip strength is exactly what it sounds like ... it's a measurement of how much force you can produce with your forearm muscles by squeezing your hand to form a grip.
The best way to measure your grip strength is using a dynamometer. These are normally hand-held tools that will tell you how strong your grip is in pounds (lbs).
You can use this device very easily too. All you have to do is hold it with your arm bent at a 90-degree angle and squeeze the handle as hard as you can. You'll repeat this process two more times, then take the average of your three readings to determine your grip strength.
Some of you may be super interested in this information, but most people just want to know how to build grip strength. After all, improving your grip strength can be a huge help for your workouts and day to day activities.
There is also research that suggests that grip strength can be a great biomarker to help identify older adults at risk of poor health . So a lot can be said about the importance of having a good grip.
But, I won't keep you waiting any longer. Let's talk about how you can start building grip strength today!
How To Improve Grip Strength
Building grip strength is certainly not rocket science, but it definitely isn't obvious either. Some of these exercises may actually come to surprise you.
Here are 3 of the best exercises you can do to help build grip strength...
Yup, you heard that right ... deadlifts. Deadlifts work so well at building grip strength because they require you to maintain a tight grip the entire time. On top of that, you're holding on to a lot of weight! If you've had to do heavy deadlifts before ... I'm sure you understand how great they can be for forearm and grip strength.
Another added bonus is you can switch up your grip. However, I will say that nothing trains your grip better than using a double over-hand grip.
2. Farmer's Carry
The farmer's carry is a staple when it comes to building a strong grip. I mean heck, the exercise is literally just walking around with heavy weights in each hand. Whether they are dumbbells, kettlebells, or anything else for that matter ... these will be a huge challenge.
Sometimes I like to see how long I can actually maintain my grip on the weights. Definitely give them a try ... they make for an excellent burner at the end of your workouts.
3. Pull-Ups/Dead Hangs
Since both of these exercises are relatively similar, I figured I'd put them in the same category here. Plus, if you can't do pull-ups, dead hangs are a great alternative to help you build grip strength.
Both pull-ups and dead hangs are so great for your grip because you have to grip the bar very tight to even support your body weight! The difference between these two exercises is simple: pull-ups actually require you to pull your body up ... dead hangs are just for holding on for your dear life!
Other Helpful Tips
If you're really looking for a great way to train your grip strength, there are a few other great tools and methods you can use. For one, you may want to look into a grip strength trainer.
Usually, these grip strength trainers look like an A with two handles and a coil that keeps them together and creates resistance. All you have to do is grab it with one hand and clench your fist to bring the handles together.
You'd be surprised at just how hard it can get after some reps.
Another option you have is bringing a hand towel to wrap around the weights to further challenge your grip. You can do this with dumbbells, barbells, ez bars, and almost any piece of gym equipment with handles. Simply wrap the towel around the handles a few times to make the handle wider.
The wider the handle, the more of a challenge to your grip. They literally make products that mimic this as well!
Now, I'm sure you're also thinking ... "Well, what about lifting straps?" Yes, lifting straps can help you maintain a tighter grip. The problem is though, lifting straps are more of an aid. They actually re-distribute weight to the wrists instead of your grip ... making it easier to hold the weight.
That just means it won't challenge your grip as much. If your goal is to build grip strength ... I'd avoid using aids like lifting straps. If you can't hold on to the weight very long ... move down in weight or keep using it until your grip strength improves!
Even though these exercises and tips can surely help with your grip strength, it's far from the only thing. Building new muscle and strength also require a game plan when it comes to nutrition and recovery.
That's where we're happy to help out! Regardless of what your goal is, we offer the tools, education, and support to get you there. We have a full customer service staff of Certified Personal Trainers through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM-CPT).
You'll also find a lot of Certified Nutrition Coaches (NASM-CNC) and even Registered Dietitians up at 1st Phorm HQ! If you're hitting a plateau, or even just want to maximize your results ... reach out to us! After all, your goal is our goal.
Bohannon RW. Grip Strength: An Indispensable Biomarker For Older Adults. Clin Interv Aging. 2019 Oct 1;14:1681-1691. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S194543. PMID: 31631989; PMCID: PMC6778477.