Q: I can’t use heavy weights on my back exercises compared to what I use for pressing movements, and it shows in my physique. Basically, my grip wears out. Would you recommend using straps?
A: You have the right idea: Using heavier weights means a greater overload on the muscular structure, and that means greater hypertrophy. Rather than using straps, I’d first recommend working on your forearms and grip strength. Performing regular grip work will enable you to use greater loads on particularly effective back exercises such as pullups and rows.
Of course, if you add another component to a workout—in this case forearm and grip work—you need to take something away. So until your forearms start to resemble bowling pins, I would limit your triceps and biceps work; two exercises for each should be enough to prevent you from losing size. In fact, you’ll find that forearm muscles such as the radialis contribute to elbow flexion, which is th reasons that strengthening the forearm muscles promotes biceps and brachialis development. Furthermore, performing direct grip work regularly will help pack size on the forearms and enhance the overall symmetry of the arm.
Editor’s note: Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the world’s most successful strength coaches, having coached Olympic medalists in 12 different sports, including the U.S. women’s track-and-field team for the 2000 Olympics. He’s spent years researching European journals (he’s fluent in English, French and German) and speaking with other coaches and scientists in his quest to optimize training methods. For more on his books, seminars and methods, visit www.CharlesPoliquin.com. Also, see his ad on the next page. IM