How to Improve Your Grip - Crushing, Pinching & Holding Strength

Improve your Grip

Never neglect weak muscle groups for too long

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Poor grip strength is a very common problem among many lifters. Actually most lifters don't know how weak their grip truly is. The reason for their weak grip is the constant use of wrist straps during workouts. The type of training most bodybuilders lack is grip training. For most people, a few wrist curls in the gym followed by a late night of surfing the Internet and playing the Xbox is all the grip training they need. This method of training might be fun, but don't expect any improvements in your grip strength.

What you have to realize is forearm training alone will not increase your grip strength. Your forearms are made up of many muscles, but none of these muscles help you acquire good grip strength. The main action of your forearm muscles is to extend your wrist; therefore, the different variations of the wrist curl you are doing are merely working the same muscles in your forearm. None of these muscles extend down to your hand. The grip strength you hope to gain from wrist-curl exercises will actually be very minimal.

To train your grip strength properly you have to look at the different components of grip strength and train each one separately. The main components are crushing strength, pinching strength, and holding strength. Let's look at these in more detail.

Crushing Strength

This type of strength requires you to use your fingers and the palm of your hand. Crushing strength is measured by your ability to squeeze an object. By training this component of grip strength, you can increase how hard you can squeeze items. A good example of this type of strength is crushing a can with your hand. I have seen strongmen crush unopened beer cans. Seeing such sheer gripping power is quite impressive.

The best way to train this strength would be to use spring grippers. Many different types of grippers are available. Most of these can be found at your neighborhood sporting goods store. When purchasing grippers make sure you get ones that can provide you the resistance you need and that can also handle the wear and tear you are going to put them through. Make sure you get ones that provide enough resistance to make your grip training intense. When using grippers try to keep your reps low and your resistance high, as you would when training bodyparts for strength. One of the best grippers I have found on the market is the Captains of Crush grippers from IronMind. These grippers are very well made compared to other grippers and come with different spring tensions ranging from 100 to 365 pounds.

Pinching Strength

Pinching strength requires the use of your thumbs and fingers and generally involves gripping large objects. Training this strength is best done by trying to grip wide objects. A simple method to train it is to stack two 10-pound Olympic plates with the smooth sides out. Then lift the plates with one hand by pinching them together, with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other. Try to pinch this weight for as long as you can. As your pinching strength gets stronger you will be able to progress to pinching and holding heavier plates. You can even train your pinching strength by setting up a system in which you are pinching objects such as blocks of wood, softballs or concrete blocks - all of which are attached to some weight.

Holding Strength

This type of strength involves simply using the thumb and fingers to hold weight in your hand(s). The best exercise for holding strength is the farmers walk. You pick up some heavy dumbells and go for a walk with them for a certain distance or for a period of time. This exercise will burn your forearms as no other will. Be prepared. Another way to train holding strength is to use your hands to hang from a pullup bar. You can actually have fun with this hang by having competitions with your training partners to see who can hold on to the bar the longest.

Now that you know what kind of training is required to increase your grip strength, try adding some of the above methods and exercises to your routine and doing them two to three times a week. Be careful not to overexert yourself right away as these exercises are known for causing serious muscle soreness. Stick with your grip training, and in no time your hands will grip as powerfully as a vise-grip!




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