Ever failed a deadlift or a pull-up or could not even open the peanut butter jar because your grip gave out before the rest of your body?
Grip strength is an underestimated area in CrossFit-style and functional training. Yet, not only a vice-like grip will give you more control and overall strength, but also overall health.
By lifting regularly, not only a the gym but also just thanks to a job that requires lots of carrying for example, you are already improving your grip strength dramatically. However, like any other muscle group in your body, you need to work on it to strengthen it, similar to when you add more weight to the bar to increase your strength.
LIFT HEAVIER, KIP LONGER AND LIVE HEALTHIER
Hand grip strength plays an essential part in many movements we do at the gym, especially in weightlifting and gymnastics, but can also improve the quality of your everyday life, from making it easier to unscrew caps and lids to carry heavier grocery bags or moving big objects.
Grip strength has also been linked to a longer healthier life. A recent research have measured the grip strength of more than 100,000 people across 17 countries and found that the lack of grip strength has been a strong predictor of premature death due to cardiovascular disease or blood pressure issues.
While more research is still needed in this area, if you lift weight or hang from the bar every day, hence building a vice-like grip, you’re already working on your health and longevity thanks to exercises and all the benefits involved.
TEST YOUR GRIP STRENGHT
One of the reason why both women and men struggle to build a strong grip is because our hands and forearms don’t gain muscles like the rest of our body.
In particular, a big limiting factor is our thumb strength. If you are an office worker, chances are you don’t use your thumb a lot as it usually line with the rest of the fingers and therefore tends not to be used and weak.
One test you can try to measure your grip strength is holding from a pull-up bar for as long as possible. If you can hols for at least 30 seconds, then you have a good strong grip. If you slide off before the 30 seconds, then you might need to work on your grip strength a little more.
POWER UP YOUR GRIP
No need to follow a separate workout program to strengthen your grip. Dedicating only few minutes to it every day can do wonders.
In particular, you’ll want to add some supportive grip exercises to your workout which help develop your ability to support your own bodyweight.
Start with the STRAIGHT-ARM HANG and work towards holding it for at least 30 seconds. Once you can do it, then progress to the SCAPULAR PULL-UP.
- Start in a hanging position from the pull-up bar with your palms facing away from your body
- Hang from the bar with your arms fully extended and feet off the floor
- Raise your body a few centimetres while squeezing your shoulder blades (i.e. scapulae) toward each other
- Then, slowly release down into the hanging position. Keep your arms as straight as possible during each set
- Start with two sets of 5 to 8 reps and progress to sets of 8 to 12 reps when you can
Another way of improving your grip strength, in particular your thumb strength, is to practice exercises which overload your thumb more in comparison to your other fingers, like pinch grip exercises.
- Grab two weight plates of equal size and pinch them between your thumb and four fingers
- Walk until you can hold them anymore
- Change side and walk again
- Change side when needed
- Practice this until you need to let the plates go or go up in weight to progress in the exercise
These are only few examples of simple and short exercises you can incorporate in your training to improve your grip strength and ultimately your overall health.
You coach at Andfit will be happy to give you some more tips to develop a vice-like grip!
We recommend you consult your coach or a physiotherapist if you have any injuries in your forearm.