A strong grip is one of the most important elements of your workout. If your grip fails, you end up empty-handed- literally- as you cannot hold onto the weights long enough to challenge your muscles. On the plus side, the muscles that contribute to your grip can be strengthened and are built up when you lift weights. You can also include specific strengthening exercises to improve grip strength and help take you beyond your current limits. Try 2 or 3 of these on a day when your grip has not already been used, such as a leg day, and aim to complete 2 or 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
6 Ways to Improve Grip Strength
- Carry Rocks- Hold and carry unusually shaped objects such as rocks, thick books, soup cans or tools. Use your imagination and carry these heavy objects for one to two minutes at a time. Try this every other day to see and feel grip improvements.
- Use a Thick Bar- If you enjoy performing pull-ups or one arm-hangs, change things and use a thicker bar. You may have to look at unusual places such as the top bars of a cable cross-over machine, basement beams or playground equipment to find a bar that is thick. Hang from the bar for up to one minute at a time on each arm and you’ll notice improvements quickly.
- Grip Trainer- Many gyms and sporting goods stores have one-handed grip trainers. These small pieces of equipment have a coiled spring at the top and two handles that are typically covered with plastic. You hold onto both handles in one palm and squeeze them together to strengthen your grip. Squeeze and release the grip trainer 30 to 60 seconds for two to three sets on each hand. Increase the duration as your grip strength improves. You can purchase these trainers in a variety of resistance levels for continued use.
- Hula- Use one or two Olympic plates. If using two plates, position the backs of the plates against each other. Hold the plates in your right hand. Move the plates behind you as if following an invisible hula-hoop line. Reach behind with the left hand and grasp the plates. Move the plates in front of you and transfer them to your right hand. Continue for repetitions then reverse the motion for repetitions.
- Rubber Bands- Using one, thick rubber band, a variety of rubber bands, or special grip bands, place your fingers inside the loops. The bands should be tense when your fingers are together. Spread apart your fingers against the band’s resistance and then release slowly.
- Steering Wheel- Hold onto one Olympic weight plate with both hands. Extend your arms out in front of you and at shoulder height. Turn the weight plate clockwise while keeping your arms and hands in the same position. Repeat for repetitions in a counter-clockwise direction.