You never really understand how important incorporating grip strength exercises into your routine are until it gives out just as you’re trying to lock out a heavy rep.
Grip strength is something you are born with and is part of your DNA. Way back in the 19th century, Louis Robinson, an English surgeon tested 60 babies by having them hang from a suspended walking stick. With only two exceptions, the infants were able to hang on for at least ten seconds and some did it for 60 seconds or more. Yes, you are born with grip strength but it’s a use it or loses it proposition.
Regular bilateral carries are great and are something everyone needs to be doing. But when you’re looking at taking your grip strength to a new level or seeking variety with your grip training, look no further than these three unconventional grip strength exercises.
Here we’ll go into the health and performance benefits of training grip along with instructions on how to perform a trio of grip strength exercises and programming suggestions to crush your training.
Benefits Of Grip Strength Training
If you want Popeye forearms without having to eat all the spinach, you have to hit forearm and grip strength training hard. Having bigger forearms is one benefit, and here are a few more.
- Improves Your Fitness And Quality Of Life: Having a strong grip for deadlift and row variations is great but it is also needed for many of your activities of daily living. Grip strength is needed to open doors and carry all the groceries from the car in one trip. A decrease in grip strength has been associated with an eightfold risk of developing muscular disability among older adults, and poor grip strength is associated with adverse weight gain among women and mortality among men.
- Helps You Live Longer: In 2015, the Lancet published a study that covered the health outcomes of 140,000 people across 17 countries. These people were tracked over four years, via a variety of measures, one of which was grip strength. Grip strength was “inversely associated with all-cause mortality” and every 5 kg decrease in grip strength was associated with a 17 percent risk increase of death.
- Better Pulling Performance: When training with heavier loads, grip strength can be a limiting factor. You can either grip it and rip it or watch the weight crash to the floor. Improving your grip strength prevents this from happening and allows you to do more reps with the same weight or with more weight.
- Predictor of Heart Disease: Heart disease is one of the biggest killers and improving your grip strength can reduce your risk of succumbing to this. The Lancet study in 2015 found a reduction in grip strength was associated with an increase in heart attacks and strokes. Grip strength is a stronger predictor of all-cause cardiovascular mortality, more than systolic blood pressure.
Progressing Your Grip Strength Training
Here are two ways to progress these three grip strength exercises to keep improving your grip.
- Add More Reps, Weight, Distance, or Time: Besides the chaos carry it’s difficult to add weight to the other two exercises. Instead, increase the time you do it (sand spins), the number of reps you do (towel pull-ups), or the distance you carry (chaos carry).
- Tempo training: Using tempo lifting with the towel pullup encourages you to slow things down and focus on form. You may do fewer reps, but you will put your working muscle under incredible time under tension.
Top 3 Grip Strength Exercises
Carrying or lifting heavy things with your hands is your first port of call in building grip strength. When you’re looking to add variety and take it up a notch, take these 3 exercises out for a spin.