How to Improve Grip Strength

by Evelyn Valdez

You need a strong grip for a lot of reasons, one of them is carrying as many grocery bags at once so you only need to make one trip! Another and more important reason has to do with strength training. Your ability to grip a weight without your palm or wrist fatiguing before will ensure that you're effectively targeting and fatiguing the intended muscle group so that they grow.

However, grip strength has more to do with than just the strength of your hand... it involves every muscle near the elbow all the way down to your fingertips. So, your grip is essentially your hands and forearms! There are so many reasons why you want to ensure your grip is strong, one of them being it'll help you effectively build muscle.

To maximize your workout sessions, strengthen your grip! Keep on reading to learn more about why grip strength is important, signs of a weak grip, and tips on how you can strengthen yours.

Why is grip strength important?

Grip strength measures how much power you can create with your hand and forearm muscles. Strengthening those muscles will ensure that you have enough power and force to grip onto the weight for an extended period of time. To understand it a little better you have to look at what happens when your grip is weak...

Having a weak grip when you're doing an exercise with a challenging weight, like deadlifts, will lead to your grip giving out before other muscle groups do. This is not good because neglecting to fully fatigue your muscles can hold you back from getting effective muscle-building results! Not only that, but it can also hold you back from adding more weight to certain exercises thus holding you back from hitting PRs and making even more progress.

Besides helping you lift heavier, here are other benefits of strengthening your grip...

  • Better endurance: Having strong hands and forearms will allow you to perform more repetitions per set. This in turn helps maximize muscle growth.
  • Improves injury resiliency: When your muscles and connective tissues are strong they become more injury resistant. However, if an injury does occur, stronger tissue can recover a lot faster.
  • It'll help you improve your fine motor skills: This will help make simple everyday things easier, like throwing or catching a ball, hooking your bra, etc.

Signs you need to strengthen your grip

Before we get into how to improve grip strength, we're going to list a few common signs that you actually need to improve it.

You may have a weak grip if you experience any of the following...

  1. You experience pain in your grip when lifting challenging weights.
  2. You often drop the weight after your sets.
  3. You have trouble carrying grocery bags without needing a break.
  4. Your hands often cramp.
  5. Your hands get tired from typing on your keyboard too long.

Tips to help improve your grip strength

If you experience any of the signs mentioned above then it's time to work on strengthening your grip! Fortunately, it doesn't require a lot of time and these techniques can easily be implemented in your workout routine and even at home!

Do grip strength exercises

The best way to start increasing your grip strength is by actually doing exercises! There are various exercises for grip strength that you can easily do at home or even use as part of your usual workout routine, here are some of our favorites...

  • Farmers carry: Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in each hand with arms down by your sides. Walk forward in a straight line, slowly and carefully, without letting the weight hit the side of your leg. Continue for 30-60 seconds, then rest for 30-60 seconds, and repeat.
  • Reverse curl: Grab a pair of dumbbells at a lighter weight than you normally would use for biceps curls. Keep your elbows close to your sides and with palms facing downwards begin to curl the weights up towards your shoulders. Hold and then lower the weights back to the starting position.
  • Bottoms up kettlebell press: Hold a kettlebell with one hand bottoms up so that the horn is sitting on your palm. Raise your arm so it's nearly at shoulder level with your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle, and begin to slowly press the weight overhead. Hold, and then slowly lower the weight back down.
  • Dead hangs: Grab onto a pull-up bar with an overhand grip with your hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Instead of pulling yourself up, simply hang from the bar making sure that your shoulders are pulled down and lats are engaged. Keep your core tight and engaged as you hold this position for as long as possible.
  • Plate pinch: Grab a weight plate in your hand and place your fingers somewhat straight on one side and your thumb compressed on the other. Press your fingers against the plate so that you have a pinch grip, almost as if you were trying to touch the tip of your fingers together.

Try towel training

A unique grip training technique is using towels! A strong towel (that won't rip) can be used for certain exercises like pull-ups. You can even attach a towel to the cable machine to perform pulldowns or rows. Using a towel will provide a unique challenge for your grip, but be aware, that it is hard on your grip to do towel pull-ups or other exercises – so work your way up to this technique!

Switch up your handles

A simple tweak to your equipment can give your grip a different challenge to help strengthen it. For example, if you usually do rows with a dumbbell, swap it out for a kettlebell instead! If you normally use thinner diameter barbells, move up to a 45lb barbell.

These small changes in your exercise routine will help challenge your grip differently and strengthen it.

Only use lifting straps for your heaviest lifts

We love a good lifting strap! They come in handy for really heavy exercises, like deadlifts and barbell rows, and can help you hit PRs. However, as great as this piece of lifting gear is, it shouldn't be heavily relied on!

Lifting straps are specifically designed to help reduce grip fatigue so that you're able to lift heavier weights longer, but relying on them too much can get in the way of you building a stronger grip. So, avoid using lifting straps on your lighter sets, and only use them on your really heavy sets when you're trying to hit a new PR on a particular pulling exercise.

Build a stronger grip so you can lift heavier for longer

Having a strong grip is a crucial component of heavy weightlifting that many tend to neglect, but it's an important one. Following the tips above will get you on the right track to improving your grip strength and pushing through more reps so you can fully fatigue the muscles you actually want to grow.

Who are we?

We're UPPPER Fitness Gear – your new favorite fitness gear company! Founded by Iulia Danilova (Fit With Iulia), we strive to make lifting gear that is high-quality, durable, comfortable, stylish, and most importantly, designed to help elevate your workouts to the next level. 

Find what your gym bag is missing at UPPPER.

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