Not a lot of people nowadays spend time working on their grip strength. A weak grip is something that we usually don’t notice until it rears its ugly head in the form of a missed lift.

Due to the fact that fewer people earn their living doing manual labor, our collective societal grip strength has been getting weaker by the generation. Your grandpa could probably bring you to your knees with his handshake.

The Importance of Grip Strength

Cleans, snatches, deadlifts…heck, all free weight exercises require some grip strength. If you want to be your best in the weight room you have to be able to hold on to the barbell or dumbbell.

Outside the weight room, grip strength is also important. Whether you have to open a jar of tomato sauce or defend yourself in a combat situation where you need to grapple, a strong grip is going to help you.

Sure, you could use straps, but why not work on your weaknesses rather than mask them with gripping aids?

plate pinch hold

Lifts and Tips for Improving Grip Strength

1. Save the straps for HEAVY loads. Try to do all your lifts without the aid of straps. Save them for when you really need them like when you are doing a heavy set of 10 stiff-leg deadlifts or a set of 20 heavy barbell shrugs. It’s always easier to “strap up” but try to resist the temptation.

2. Fat Bar Training. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a fat bar, use it. Using a fat bar for deadlifts, benches, bent-over rows (really, any lift where you grip a bar) will help you build hand-crushing grip strength.

3. Overhand Deadlift Holds. As a finisher to your deadlift day load up the bar with 55-65% of your 1RM and grab the bar with a double overhand grip (but not a hook grip). Deadlift the weight and hold it for 15-20 seconds. Do three sets.

4. Plate Pinches. Grab two plates and put them together so that the smooth sides are facing out. “Pinch” the plates together and hold for 10-15 seconds. Do 3-4 sets. These are really tough and you may need to start with the 10 pound plates. But, just as in all your lifting, constantly progress.

5. Towel Pullups. Throw a towel over the pullup bar and grab each end of the towel. Do as many pullups as you can. Repeat for 3-4 sets.