When I first started training, my friends and I quickly got a dose of the gym sub-culture and part of our ‘right to passage’ was our training equipment. We ran off to the sporting goods store to buy a gym-bag, lifting belt, chalk and lifting straps. Years later I realized that the straps had become a crutch and that if I wanted to make progress in upper body strength I needed a strong grip, so…
…the straps got tossed in the trash.
Larry Scott was the first to point out that forearm development had enhanced his arm training. I later learned that powerlifters work on developing griping power in addition to forearm work. If you want to increase your inclines, bench, rows, chins, deads, triceps work, overhead presses and even your squat, it’s critical to strengthen your grip.
Gripping the bar (or rope, or attachment) with the strongest, tightest grip possible sets off a mechanical function that locks your body into a solid, weight bearing structure. There are many different types of grip strength; supporting, pinch, crush, levering, bending and tearing – for instance.
Here are a few simple, fun and effective exercises to incorporate into your workouts. A few inexpensive ‘tools’ you may have lying around the house or that can be picked up at a local hardware store can help.
Tip # 1: Get rid of your lifting straps… I mentioned this earlier but it’s the first step.
Tip #2: Invest in a pair of Fat Gripz and use them on just about any upper body movement. You’ll find that this tip alone will improve your grip and upper body power immensely.
Tip #3: Invest in 4 pieces of 2 X 6 X 12 pieces of wood, 2 eye hook screws, and 2 pieces of chain and 4 chain hook clamps (the kind used at the gym to hook cables onto the attachments. Glue or nail 2 on the pieces of wood together so that you now have 2 pieces of wood that are 4 X 6 X 12. Screw the eye hook onto the bottom of the 12 inch side directly in the center. Attach the chain and a dumbbell. Grab the top of the wood with your hand in a C grip and hold one in each hand for time. You can stand there or do a farmers walk for 30-45 seconds or until you fail.
Tip #4: Same as Tip # 2 and Tip #3 but use a thick piece of rope OR a thick towel in each hand and squeeze hard.
Tip # 5: This is for twisting power. Grab a medium pair of dumbbells rest your hands on your knees with your palms facing down as if you were going to reverse wrist curls. Hold the dumbbells off-center with your pinky finger wedged up against the outside plate and let your thumb drop down toward the floor. Now turn your thumb up towards the ceiling.
Tip # 6: This is the reverse movement of Tip #5. Start in the same position but this time your thumb is going to wedge up against the inside plate of the dumbbell. Let your pinky drop down towards the ground and then twist it up.
Try these tips for about 12 weeks and your grip and upper body power will soar!