Your Upper Body Is Only As Strong As Your Grip Strength
One of the most overlooked and underdeveloped quality in many lifters arsenals is grip strength.
Grip is extremely important for developing a stronger body. Whether you are a martial artist, rock climber, weightlifter, strongman, powerlifter, etc., grip strength matters.
The strength of a person’s hand may also be an indicator to their overall health and chance for disability later in life. But if you are not already an athlete or you are just starting your athletic journey, how do you know what type of grip work you need?
The purpose of this post is to address how to approach grip strength and how to differentiate what areas of your grip need work.
How Should I Approach Grip Work?
Well, this is probably the toughest topic of this post, because it all depends on what an individual’s goals are, and whether their goals are more dependent on endurance or strength.
This is tougher than you think because most sports rely on a combination of both endurance and strength. Therefore, I have come to rely on certain exercises to root out these issues.
These exercises are:
1. Snatch Grip Deadlifts
2. Romanian Deadlifts
3. Pull up Dead Hang
Snatch Grip Deadlifts
In order to deadlift heavy weights you need to have great grip strength. If you want to snatch grip deadlift heavy you need to have really good grip strength.
This exercise is performed the same way as a regular deadlift, except the bar is grasped with hands wider than shoulder with apart. This puts the wrists at a disadvantaged position and forces the lifter to squeeze the bar harder. *Be sure to warm up before performing*
I usually do something like this:
1. Calculate 75% of your regular deadlift 5RM and then load the bar.
2. Grab the bar with a snatch grip (NO STRAPS or HOOK GRIP).
3. Perform 5 reps with maximum acceleration.
By performing the reps at maximum acceleration, the inertia from the rested barbell pulls on your hands much more than at your regular deadlift speed.
The romanian deadlift is an excellent way to test grip endurance. Un-rack the bar from a squat rack and stand tall with the bar touching your hips.
From here, bend your knees and lower the bar down your legs to about the middle of your shins. Do not touch the ground with the bar. Keep the bar as close to your body as possible.
One reason I prefer this exercise over other exercises is because it is safer and easier to spot when form is breaking down. When a lifter burns his/her grip out with this exercise, then they can just drop the bar.
Also, anybody can perform this exercise, regardless of training experience. The lifter can also tell which hand is weaker, as this is the hand that will start to slip first. Again, BE SURE TO WARM UP BEFORE PERFORMING!
1. Load the bar with 3/4 bodyweight.
2. Perform each rep with a 313 tempo (3 sec lower, 1sec pause, 3 sec raise)
3. Repeat until failure
The beauty of this is that you can take a max time based on the number of reps as each rep should take 7 sec to complete.
The goal should be to aim for 8-10 reps. If you can’t get within this range, then you need to work more on grip endurance. The next exercise will help with that as well.
Pull-up Dead Hang
Another way to test grip endurance is with the Pull up Dead Hang.
The other major advantage to this exercise is that it doesn’t cause any spinal loading. If you are lifting heavy weights on a regular basis, then spinal decompression can be a welcomed relief.
The one major drawback of this exercise is that it might be too difficult for some beginner lifters, women or kids. For more information on Pull-ups, including grip, variations and technique, CLICK HERE to read my article How to do Pull-ups.
The procedure is simple:
1. WARM UP WITH 10 SCAPULAR PULL-UPS.
2. Grasp the bar tightly with a closed/hook grip (thumb around bar).
3. Hold on for max time.
Just like the romanian deadlift, 60-90 seconds is a good total time to go for.
I hope that this post was interesting for all of you and I hope that you learned some new ways to test your grip strength/endurance. I use these exercises for myself and for my clientele as well. Spotting weaknesses today is just another way to strengthen them up for tomorrow.