21st Century Grip Strength Training
21st Century Grip Strength Training
Lifting more weight is a byproduct of having a stronger grip. Here's how to have a stronger grip.
Nothing is better than seeing a one armed open field tackle, a finger tip catch, or a painfully long farmer’s walk at any level. That’s what grip strength is all about. Whether you’re an attackman getting swatted at, an aspiring strongman, or a baseball player trying to drop bombs, you should be incorporating grip work into your training. Here are some techniques that should help you along the way, and leave you feeling like an absolute animal in the weight room.
1. Fat Gripz with anything and everything!
Something I always notice with clients and athletes that are just starting out at ICW is their grip strength, or lack there of. During Olympic lifts or the compound lifts it’s inevitable that I’m going to hear that famous line out of Happy Gilmore when the old lady proclaims: “My fingers hurt.”
Unlike Ben Stiller, I don’t send athletes or clients to landscaping duty, but instead supplement their pulls, presses, and arm work with some thick grips. At first people consider it to be cruel and unusual punishment, but within a few weeks they feel like Popeye and are juggling 20 kilo kettlebells like ping pong balls. Ok so that may have been a slight exaggeration, but these thick grips will do wonders for your grip strength.
2. Sledgehammer finger walks & head taps
So you you’ve added fat grips into the mix and are looking for other non-traditional ways to increase your finger, wrist and hand strength. Grab a sledgehammer and let’s get after it because there may be no better way to increase your grip strength than sledgehammer finger walks & head taps.
For finger walks, simply start with the fingertips at the top of the handle and without using your thumbs and any other part of your hand, walk the hands up keeping the handle completely vertical and once you tap the metal head with your pinky fingers, walk your way back up. Repeat 3 to 5 sets until failure (i.e. until the sledgehammer falls on the floor).
For the head taps grip the hammer as low as possible on the handle and with a straight arm so that the hammer and your forearm are at a right angle (with the hammer perpendicular to the floor). Slowly lower the hammer to your forehead without decapitating yourself and once you tap your forehead, return the hammer back to the starting position. If that’s too intense you can place your hand further up the handle and gradually work your way down as you get better. Got it? Cool. If not, check out the video.
3. Finger tip push-ups and iso holds
Maybe you last did these in gym class? Regardless, incorporating fingertip work in with grip work inevitably strengthens the fingers and hands in such a way that you’ll be able to disintegrate empty Soporro cans at a moments notice. Nothing too complicated with these as they’re exactly what they sound like: pushups on your finger tips, so stop scratching your head and get after them (after you check out the video, of course).
4. Rope climbs and pull-ups
Anytime you have the opportunity to work with a thick rope, take advantage of it (yeah, uhhh, that didn’t come out right). Most commercial gyms have yet to catch on to the benefits of grip training using ropes, but at ICW we have kids as young as 11 and 12 climbing the rope with ease as you can see in the video. The rope climb is an “old school”, yet very effective, tactic that needs to be incorporated more frequently, as it can make a huge difference in your other lifts when done consistently.
5. Incline DB Curls and Fat Grip Reverse Curls
If you are looking to have that badass q-ball looking brachialis (aka that peak muscle in your bicep), then these lifts will do it for you. The beauty of these movements is that they improve both grip and arm strength and get those eye-popping arms that every athlete is secretly, or not so secretly, looking for.
I’m personally a huge fan of the 8/8/6 rep scheme for these. Start by doing 8 reps of a fat grip incline DB curl at 9-10RM operating weight, moving then to 8 reps of a fat grip reverse curl, and then back to the incline fat grip DB curl for 6 reps with the same weight as the first set. Rest about 10 seconds between each one and then 60-90 seconds between sets and perform 3 to 4 times. In terms of tempo, try to do a 3 Mississippi count on the eccentric (lowering) portion of the movement and feel that wonderful time under tension start to sculpt your arms into something that Michael Pittman and David Boston would be jealous of.
The video below does a good job of demonstrating reverse curls, fat grip bench/pull-ups, plate pinches and so forth, so grab some popcorn, and enjoy the gun show.
And 1R, if you should want to pick up an at-home tool to help you improve your hand grip strength, we at OneResult recommend the following gripper training tool:
- Valeo Ultra Hand Gripper - Contoured grip for increased comfort and strong resistance for maximum results
About the Author
Brendan “Bonesaw” McKee has been training individuals since 2004 and is a graduate of Amherst College where he was Captain of the Lord Jeff football team. Over his career he earned all-conference and all-region honors in addition to getting the nickname Bonesaw for his bone-jarring hits and savage antics in the weight room and on campus. After school Brendan played football professionally in Vienna, Austria for the Danube Dragons. He also aided in the implementation of the strength and conditioning programs that the Dragons continue to use today. Today Brendan serves as a mentor and coach at InnerCity Weightlifting in Boston where kids who are at risk for gang related activities are trained in Olympic lifts to improve their athletic performance, tutored, and taught to say no to violence and yes to opportunity. Before InnerCity Bonesaw worked with individuals from Athletes Performance, Poliquin Performance Centers, Cressey Performance, and Hayes Sports Performance. Brendan is also the owner of MFD Training, “Manus Fortis Ducerit,” Lead with a Strong Hand.
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