When it comes to lifting your body is a chain. You are always only as strong as your weakest link. For most athletes, that weakness is grip strength.
In this article we will explore why this often ignored, but highly important, aspect of general fitness should be improved, how to do it, and what equipment you should use to help.
We will dive into the right exercises to use and the vital importance of lifting straps.
- The Benefits of Strong and Powerful Grip Strength
- What are the Best Exercises to Build Better Grip Strength?
- What are the Benefits of Using Lifting Straps?
- JerkFit Lifting Straps
- Why Weak Grip Strength Negatively Impacts Exercises Such as the Deadlift and Pull Up
- Why Should You Train Your Grip Strength Separately?
- Pavel Tsatsouline on Grip Strength
- Why are Dead Hangs Such a Great Way to Train Grip Strength?
- What are the Muscles and Tendons of the Hands, Wrists and Forearms?
- Improve your Grip Strength, Enhance Your Fitness and Performance
The Benefits of Strong and Powerful Grip Strength
Having strong grip strength offers several benefits that extend beyond just being able to hold onto objects tightly. Here are some of the key advantages of having a strong grip:
Improved Performance in Daily Activities: A strong grip allows you to perform everyday tasks more efficiently, such as carrying groceries, opening jars, turning doorknobs, or holding objects securely.
Enhanced Sports Performance: Many sports require a strong grip, including weightlifting, rock climbing, weightlifting, functional fitness, and martial arts. Having a powerful grip can improve your performance and help prevent injuries in these activities.
Reduced Risk of Injuries: A strong grip can stabilize your wrists and prevent strain or injury during weightlifting exercises, lifting heavy objects, or performing physically demanding tasks.
Better Hand and Finger Strength: Strong grip strength also translates into stronger hand and finger muscles, which can be beneficial for activities that require fine motor skills, like playing musical instruments or typing on a keyboard.
Increased Bone Density: Regularly engaging in grip-strengthening exercises can help improve bone density in the hands, wrists, and forearms, reducing the risk of conditions like osteoporosis.
Enhanced Hand Endurance: A strong grip can help delay hand fatigue during activities that involve repetitive hand movements, such as using tools or playing certain sports.
Positive Impact on Overall Strength: Grip strength is correlated with overall body strength. By improving your grip strength, you may see improvements in other areas of your physical fitness.
Better Joint Health: Strengthening the muscles around your wrists and fingers can provide better support to the joints, potentially reducing the risk of joint-related issues and conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Functional Independence: Maintaining strong grip strength as you age can support your ability to perform daily tasks independently, which can contribute to a higher quality of life and a reduced risk of age-related functional limitations.
Improved Mental Health: Some research suggests that grip strength is associated with better cognitive function and mental well-being. Stronger grip has been linked to lower stress levels and improved mood.
What are the Best Exercises to Build Better Grip Strength?
Building better grip strength requires a combination of exercises that target the muscles in your hands, wrists, and forearms. Here are some of the best exercises to help improve your grip strength:
Squeezing hand grippers is a simple and effective way to target the muscles in your hands and improve grip strength. Start with a gripper that provides moderate resistance and gradually work your way up to stronger grippers as you get stronger.
This exercise involves holding heavy dumbbells or kettlebells in each hand and walking for a designated distance or time. It engages the entire grip and is excellent for building functional grip strength.
Deadlifts are a compound exercise that works the muscles in your hands, wrists, and forearms, as well as your back, glutes, and legs. Focus on using a double overhand grip or a mixed grip (one hand pronated, one hand supinated) to challenge your grip.
Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups
These upper body exercises require significant grip strength to support your body weight. Performing them regularly will help strengthen your grip.
Pinch two weight plates together using your fingertips and thumbs. Hold them for as long as you can. This exercise targets the pinch grip strength.
Hang a towel over a pull-up bar and grasp the ends instead of the bar itself. Perform pull-ups using the towel grip, which adds an extra challenge to your grip strength.
Wrist Curls and Reverse Wrist Curls
Use a barbell or dumbbells to perform wrist curls and reverse wrist curls to strengthen the muscles in your forearms.
Use rubber bands or specialized finger extension devices to work on the muscles responsible for opening your fingers against resistance.
Climbing challenges your grip in various positions and angles, making it an excellent sport for building grip strength and forearm endurance.
When incorporating these exercises into your routine, it’s essential to maintain proper form and start with appropriate resistance for your current strength level. Gradually increase the intensity as you progress. Additionally, ensure adequate rest and recovery between grip-strengthening sessions to avoid overuse injuries.
Remember that grip strength development takes time and consistency. Stay patient, and over time, you should see improvements in your grip strength, which will positively impact various aspects of your physical performance and daily activities.
What are the Benefits of Using Lifting Straps?
Lifting straps are useful tools that can provide several benefits when used properly and in the right context. Here are some of the advantages of using lifting straps:
Lifting straps can significantly improve your grip on barbells, dumbbells, or other lifting implements. By wrapping the straps around the bar and your wrist, you create a secure connection that allows you to focus more on the target muscle groups rather than worrying about your grip slipping.
Increased Lifting Capacity
With a more secure grip, you can lift heavier weights during exercises like deadlifts, rows, and pull-ups. This can be particularly beneficial when targeting specific muscle groups that may be limited by grip strength.
Reduced Forearm Fatigue
Lifting straps can help reduce forearm fatigue during exercises that heavily tax the grip. This allows you to concentrate on the primary muscle groups without being limited by your grip strength.
Targeting Specific Muscles
By taking grip strength out of the equation, lifting straps allow you to isolate specific muscles more effectively. This can be beneficial when you want to target particular muscle groups without the grip strength becoming the limiting factor.
For exercises like heavy deadlifts or rack pulls, where a secure grip is crucial for safety, lifting straps can provide an added level of support to avoid potential accidents or dropping weights.
Lifting straps can be useful in a progressive training program. You can use them to lift heavier weights during certain phases of your training and then gradually phase them out as your grip strength improves.
JerkFit Lifting Straps
JerkFit has created the most premium, most comfortable, durable and grippy lifting straps on the market with Death Grips.
They take 80% of the strain away from your forearms and are incredibly grippy. You can virtually lift your fingers off the bar and the grips whilst still hanging on.
If you want to make consistent, measurable gains at the gym or in the Box, you NEED a pair of lifting straps like DEATH GRIPS from JerkFit.
Simultaneously, you need to work on your grip strength, separately, to ensure you build that muscle for long term health, strength and vitality. You CAN and SHOULD do both.
Do that, and just watch how quickly you’ll be smashing through your PR’s on a regular basis. This will keep you motivated and coming back for more, and hopefully for years to come!
Make the commitment to your body, invest in a pair of Death Grips right now and save 20% at JerkFit.com.
Why Weak Grip Strength Negatively Impacts Exercises Such as the Deadlift and Pull Up
Weak grip strength can significantly impact your performance in deadlifts and pull-ups in several ways:
Reduced Lifting Capacity: In deadlifts, a weak grip may limit the weight you can lift since your hands may give out before your larger muscle groups do. It can hinder your ability to lift heavy loads and may prevent you from fully engaging your back, glutes, and hamstrings during the lift.
Shortened Sets and Reps: Weak grip strength can lead to early fatigue during pull-ups. If your grip gives out before your back and arm muscles are fully exhausted, you won’t be able to complete the desired number of repetitions, limiting the effectiveness of the exercise.
Increased Risk of Injury: With weak grip strength, you may struggle to maintain a secure grip on the bar during deadlifts or pull-ups. This can lead to slipping, causing accidents and potential injuries like muscle strains, sprains, or even falls.
Poor Form: As your grip weakens during the exercises, you might resort to using improper form to compensate. For example, you might excessively use your shoulders or back muscles instead of relying on a strong grip to support the movement. This can lead to imbalances and injuries over time.
Slower Progression: If your grip strength lags behind your overall strength development, it will be challenging to progress in deadlifts and pull-ups. As a result, your strength gains may plateau or advance at a slower rate.
Missed Training Opportunities: Weak grip strength can limit your ability to perform compound exercises like deadlifts and pull-ups, which are essential for overall strength and muscle development. If you avoid these exercises due to grip limitations, you might miss out on their numerous benefits.
To address weak grip strength and improve your performance in deadlifts and pull-ups, you can incorporate specific grip-strengthening exercises into your routine and use lifting straps.
Why Should You Train Your Grip Strength Separately?
Training your grip strength separately from your regular workouts can offer several benefits and advantages, even if you are already engaging in compound exercises that involve gripping. Here are some reasons why it’s beneficial to dedicate specific time to train your grip strength:
Targeted Focus: By dedicating a separate training session to grip strength, you can specifically target the muscles and tendons in your hands, wrists, and forearms without the distraction of other exercises. This targeted focus allows you to fully concentrate on improving grip strength.
Avoiding Overload: Compound exercises like deadlifts, pull-ups, and rows are excellent for developing overall strength, but they can also put a lot of stress on the body, including the grip. Training grip strength separately allows you to avoid overloading the grip during compound movements, reducing the risk of overuse injuries.
Progressive Overload: When training grip strength separately, you can design a progressive program that gradually increases the resistance and difficulty of grip exercises over time. This progressive overload helps to continually challenge and strengthen your grip muscles.
Balanced Development: Some individuals may find that their grip strength lags behind their overall strength in compound exercises. Training grip strength separately helps ensure balanced development and prevents weak grip strength from limiting progress in other lifts.
Customization: Separating grip training allows you to customize the exercises and intensity according to your specific needs and goals. You can incorporate various grip-strengthening techniques, such as thick-bar training, plate pinches, finger curls, and timed holds.
Flexibility in Workout Structure: If you train grip strength separately, you have more flexibility in structuring your regular workouts. You won’t have to worry about grip fatigue affecting your performance in other lifts, allowing you to optimize your training.
Injury Prevention: A well-rounded grip training program can help prevent injuries related to the hands, wrists, and forearms. By strengthening the muscles and tendons involved in gripping, you create a more resilient and injury-resistant grip.
Transfer to Other Activities: Developing strong grip strength through dedicated training can positively impact various daily activities and sports that require a powerful grip, such as carrying heavy objects, participating in rock climbing, or engaging in martial arts.
Remember that grip strength is an essential component of overall strength and functional fitness. Integrating specific grip training into your routine ensures that you maintain balanced strength development and enjoy the numerous benefits of a powerful grip in various aspects of your life.
Pavel Tsatsouline on Grip Strength
Pavel Tsatsouline is a well-known strength and conditioning coach, author, and former Soviet Special Forces physical training instructor.
He is widely recognized for popularizing Russian training techniques and bringing kettlebell training to the United States in the late 1990s. Pavel has authored several books on strength training and is considered one of the leading experts in the field.
Pavel Tsatsouline emphasizes the importance of grip strength for several reasons:
Transference to Overall Strength: According to Pavel, grip strength has a significant impact on overall strength. He believes that a stronger grip allows you to lift heavier weights in exercises like deadlifts, pull-ups, and rows, thus promoting greater muscle and strength gains in the entire body.
Functional Strength: Pavel is an advocate of functional strength training, which focuses on improving strength for real-life activities and sports. Grip strength is a fundamental aspect of functional strength as it is required in many daily activities, from carrying heavy objects to opening jars.
Injury Prevention: A strong grip can help stabilize your wrists and forearms during various exercises, reducing the risk of injuries. It provides additional support and control during movements that involve the hands and upper body.
Improved Performance in Sports: Many sports and activities, such as rock climbing, martial arts, and wrestling, require a powerful grip. By developing grip strength, athletes can enhance their performance and skill in these disciplines.
Enhanced Mental Toughness: Pavel believes that grip strength training can also have mental benefits. He argues that pushing through challenging grip exercises builds mental resilience and tenacity, which can carry over to other aspects of life.
To develop grip strength, Pavel Tsatsouline recommends various techniques, including using thick-handled implements, training with kettlebells, performing exercises with timed holds, and incorporating grip-specific exercises like towel pull-ups and plate pinches.
Overall, Pavel Tsatsouline’s teachings have had a significant impact on the fitness world, particularly in the realm of grip strength training. His approach to strength training, backed by his experiences and expertise, has influenced many athletes, coaches, and fitness enthusiasts worldwide.
Why are Dead Hangs Such a Great Way to Train Grip Strength?
Dead hangs are an excellent way to train grip strength for several reasons:
Dead hangs are a form of isometric exercise, which means the muscles are engaged without any significant change in length. When you perform a dead hang, you are holding onto a bar or other hanging implement without actively moving, which places a constant load on your grip muscles.
This prolonged contraction helps build both strength and endurance in the muscles of your hands, wrists, and forearms.
Full Grip Activation
Dead hangs engage all the muscles in your hands and forearms, including the flexors, extensors, and stabilizing muscles. This comprehensive activation ensures a well-rounded grip workout that targets all aspects of grip strength.
Dead hangs require minimal equipment – usually just a pull-up bar or any sturdy overhead structure. This makes them easily accessible for most people, whether at home, in the gym, or even outdoors.
Dead hangs promote joint stability in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. As you hang, your body learns to stabilize and support your weight, leading to stronger and more resilient joints.
By training grip strength through dead hangs, you can help prevent injuries in the hands, wrists, and forearms. Developing a strong grip can enhance the integrity of the connective tissues and support the muscles, reducing the risk of strains and overuse injuries during other exercises or daily activities.
Improved Pull-Up Performance
Dead hangs are a natural progression toward performing pull-ups and chin-ups. As your grip strength improves, you’ll find it easier to hold onto the bar during these exercises, leading to better pull-up performance.
Grip strength is a fundamental aspect of functional strength that translates into various daily activities and sports. Improving your grip strength through dead hangs can enhance your ability to carry heavy objects, climb, and perform various manual tasks.
Dead hangs can be mentally challenging, especially as you push your grip endurance limits. Staying focused and maintaining the hold helps build mental resilience and discipline.
When performing dead hangs, focus on keeping your shoulders engaged and down, and avoid excessive swinging or kipping. Start with shorter durations and gradually increase the time as your grip strength improves. Additionally, you can experiment with different grip positions, such as an overhand grip, underhand grip, or mixed grip (one hand overhand, one hand underhand), to vary the stress on different grip muscles.
What are the Muscles and Tendons of the Hands, Wrists and Forearms?
The hands, wrists, and forearms are comprised of a complex network of muscles and tendons that work together to facilitate various movements and actions. Here are some of the key muscles and tendons in these areas:
Muscles of the Hand
Thenar Muscles: Located at the base of the thumb, these muscles control thumb movements and contribute to grip strength.
The thenar muscles include:
- Abductor pollicis brevis
- Flexor pollicis brevis
- Opponens pollicis
Hypothenar Muscles: Situated at the base of the little finger, these muscles assist in controlling the little finger and contribute to grip strength.
The hypothenar muscles include:
- Abductor digiti minimi
- Flexor digiti minimi brevis
- Opponens digiti minimi
Interosseous Muscles: Found between the metacarpal bones of the hand, these muscles are responsible for finger adduction and abduction. There are four dorsal interossei and three palmar interossei muscles.
Lumbrical Muscles: These muscles originate from the tendons of the flexor digitorum profundus and assist in finger flexion at the metacarpophalangeal joints while extending the interphalangeal joints.
Muscles of the Wrist and Forearm
a. Flexor Muscles: These muscles are responsible for wrist and finger flexion. They are located on the anterior (palm side) of the forearm and include:
- Flexor carpi radialis
- Palmaris longus
- Flexor carpi ulnaris
- Flexor digitorum superficialis
- Flexor digitorum profundus
- Flexor pollicis longus
Extensor Muscles: These muscles control wrist and finger extension. They are located on the posterior (back side) of the forearm and include:
- Extensor carpi radialis longus
- Extensor carpi radialis brevis
- Extensor carpi ulnaris
- Extensor digitorum
- Extensor digiti minimi
- Extensor indicis
- Extensor pollicis longus
- Extensor pollicis brevis
- Abductor pollicis longus
- Extensor pollicis longus
Tendons are tough, fibrous connective tissues that connect muscles to bones and transmit muscle forces to allow movement. In the hands, wrists, and forearms, there are numerous tendons that pass through the wrist and attach to the fingers, facilitating finger and wrist movements.
These muscles and tendons work together in a coordinated manner to allow precise movements and provide strength and stability to the hands, wrists, and forearms. Proper care and strengthening of these muscles and tendons are essential for maintaining hand and wrist health and optimizing performance in various activities.
Improve your Grip Strength, Enhance Your Fitness and Performance
As we have discussed in this article, weak grip strength is a huge hindrance to progress in the gym and on the competition floor.
You must make time to specifically train this aspect of your fitness and use JerkFit DEATH GRIPS lifting straps to optimise the way that you train and improve.
Remember that you are always only as strong as your weakest point. Don’t let grip strength be yours.
Study Title: “Association of Grip Strength With Cardiovascular Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.”
Summary: This meta-analysis examined the association between grip strength and cardiovascular outcomes. The study found that lower grip strength was significantly associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes, suggesting that grip strength can serve as a potential predictor of cardiovascular health.
Study Title: “Grip Strength and Physical Disability: Findings from the Singapore Longitudinal Ageing Studies.”
Summary: This longitudinal study investigated the relationship between grip strength and physical disability in older adults. The results showed that individuals with weaker grip strength were more likely to experience physical limitations and disabilities, highlighting the importance of grip strength in maintaining functional independence in older age.
Study Title: “The Association Between Grip Strength and Mortality: What Does It Tell Us About Frailty?”
Summary: This study explored the relationship between grip strength and mortality risk in older adults. It demonstrated that lower grip strength was associated with a higher risk of mortality, indicating that grip strength can be an essential marker of frailty and overall health in older populations.
Study Title: “Grip Strength Predicts Cardiac Events and Mortality in Patients With Cardiac Disease.”
Summary: This prospective study investigated the predictive value of grip strength in patients with cardiac disease. The results indicated that weaker grip strength was associated with a higher risk of cardiac events and mortality, suggesting that grip strength assessment could aid in risk stratification and prognosis in cardiac patients.
Study Title: “Grip Strength and Incident Cognitive Impairment in an Elderly Population: The Three-City Study.”
Summary: This longitudinal study examined the relationship between grip strength and cognitive impairment in older adults. The findings revealed that lower grip strength was associated with a higher risk of developing cognitive impairment over time, supporting the idea that grip strength might be linked to brain health and cognitive function in aging individuals.