The Importance of Grip Strength (and How to Improve It)
Grip strength is possibly the most underrated aspect of performance when it comes to strength training. If you've hit a plateau, it's not just your mobility and movement patterns you should be focusing on. Your grip strength, or lack of it, plays an important role in pretty much everything you're likely to do in the box. Sometimes the lack of grip strength is glaringly obvious (e.g. deadlifts and pull-ups), yet athletes still fail to dedicate enough time to improving it.
Here are just a few movements that will be limited by insufficient grip strength:
- Farmers carries,
- Olympic lifts,
- Rope climbs.
Now can you see why it's so important?
If you need to work on your grip, introduce the following exercises in your routine a couple of times per week:
Using grippers (pictured above) is the most effective way to train your crushing grip. These aren't expensive to pick up, and they're really simple to use. They come in a variety of different strengths, so start at the most appropriate level and work your way up. Your aim is to squeeze the handles together until they touch, before releasing them and repeating the movement. When you move up a strength, you might find you can't get the handles to touch, so you should instead focus on applying as much force as you can.
If you want to make the movement harder, without increasing the strength of the gripper, you can perform negatives (applying resistance on the eccentric contraction), or focus on holding the gripper closed for as long as possible. Check out this video to learn more:
If you find yourself sliding off the bar after a couple of pull-ups, even though your back's strong enough to do more, introduce some hanging into your daily routine. This couldn't be easier, just hang from the rig for as long as possible. Make sure you keep your back active, and vary the type of grip regularly (e.g. chin-up grip, hook grip, etc). To make this harder, either wear a weighted vest or try one armed hanging.
If your box lacks specialist grip training equipment, don't worry - all you need for this exercise are a couple of plates. Put the plates together, before pinching them between your fingers and thumb. Make sure you're not cheating by holding onto the lip of the plate, and hold for as long as possible. If you want to make this even harder, add some more weight, or try walking around the box.
Watch this tutorial, then give them a go when you're next in the box:
There are so many different exercises out there to improve your grip, but these are three of the most common - and they get results! Each one trains a different aspect of your grip strength, building a solid grip to help you with everything from deadlifts to pull-ups. Start practicing them 2-3 times per week, at the end of your session. Trust us, you don't want to fry your grip before lifting!
Does your grip strength let you down? Give these exercises a try and let us know how you get on!