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How to improve grip strength

April 5, 2022


Grip strength is frequently overlooked, however, it is one of the fundamental physical skills that we must develop to obtain greater performance in our training and efficiency when carrying out daily activities. Grip strength is necessary to perform daily tasks such as carrying grocery bags, a suitcase, or removing lids from jars. 


Contrary to what is commonly stated, it does not only have to do with the motor skills of the hands, since the grip is more complex than it looks like. It involves from the elbow to the tips of the fingers, all the muscles are important, especially the forearms.


Types of grip strength


Depending on the exercise or activity we do, we activate some muscles or others. There are four types of grip strength:


  • Crush: it is the most common type. It is used when giving a handshake or to grab an object.

  • Pinch: This type of grip involves only the fingers; the thumb goes on one side and the rest of the fingers on the other. The object that we grab with the pincer grip does not touch the palm of the hand.

  • Support: the one used when holding an object with an open hand, such as a basketball or a barbell.

  • Extension: the opening movement of the fingers.


Muscles involved in grip strength


To use grip strength, the muscles in your forearms and hands must work together. The muscle groups of the forearm consist of 19 different muscle filaments, including extensors and flexors. They originate mainly in the elbow joint, from where they reach the wrist and the tips of the fingers. If you move a finger, most of the force comes from the forearm.


More than thirty muscle groups located in the palm and thumb are responsible for the movement of the hands. The fingers have no muscles, therefore, if you want to train your grip strength, you should focus on your forearms.


By exercising these muscles we can prevent the most common injuries of both the hands and forearms


Benefits of working on your grip strength


Training to have a strong grip provides us with important advantages that make it worth every minute invested in it. These are the benefits of training grip strength:


  • Increases resistance. And as a result, you can do more repetitions. Grip strength is the factor that limits you in many exercises. For example, when you're doing deadlift reps and you have to stop because you can't hold the bar, even though the muscles you're toning have the strength to go on.

  • Avoid injuries. If you do not train your grip strength and it falls far behind the other muscle groups, the body is overloaded and you are more likely to injure yourself. In addition, strengthening the muscles involved in the grip can prevent the occurrence of injuries such as tennis elbow.

  • Increases your basal metabolic rate. The more grip strength you have, the stronger your whole body will be when it comes to training. You have more power and move faster in your muscle building process, which in turn increases your basal metabolic rate.

  • Improves performance in many sports. Grip strength is not only important in strength disciplines. Having strong forearms is also beneficial for sports like rock climbing, gymnastics, and ball sports like basketball.

  • Improves life quality. Developing grip strength can make it easier for you to complete tasks, such as carrying groceries or moving. In addition, studies have shown that in elderly people it can be a predictive factor of disability.


How to improve grip strength


First of all, you should know which areas are a priority to strengthen:


  • Starting with the wrists, an important area that can give us a plus in training.

  • Then we have the strength in the fingers, which is easy to work and incorporate the palm of the hand.

  • Finally we have to build robust forearms, which allow us to increase effective grip executions.


Grip strength exercises


  • Farmers walk. While standing, carry weight items in each hand. The ideal would be dumbbells or kettlebells. Keeping your back straight, you should walk from one end of the room to the other, without turning your wrists or changing the position of your hands.

  • Hanging. Another of the super simple exercises that we can do and that will come in handy, especially if we are beginners, is the one that simply consists of hanging from the pull-up bar and holding it as long as possible. At the beginning we can do it simply with our body weight and, when necessary, we can add more weight by adding ballast.

  • Plate pinches. Take two weight plates, preferably smooth. Stack them together so that the smooth side of each one meets the other. Try to pick them up pinching or, better yet, try to walk with them once you've managed to pick them up.

  • Rope climbing. If you have a rope to climb in the gym, this is a great exercise to work on the grip of our hands. Also working with battle ropes will help us improve the strength of the hands and forearms.

  • Lift weight by blocking. Catch and hold a heavy object between the palms of your hands, without closing the grip with your fingers. The rounder and more slippery the surface, the more complicated the exercise.

  • Deadlifts. To do this exercise you need a lot of grip strength. You can grab the bar on the ground (palms facing down) or on an elevated surface (palms facing up). Bring your pelvis forward and bring the bar up to your shins toward your hips. You should have your knees slightly bent and your back straight.


In addition, here are some ideas of equipment that you can include in your routine to train your forearm, wrists and hands:


  • Grippers. Perfect to use on the way to work if you go by public transport or while watching television. If you prefer, you can also use tennis balls or antistress balls.

  • Finger exerciser. Resistance band with finger holes.

  • Wrist roller. Barbell with grips that rotate.

  • Fat Gripz. Fat grips that can be added to regular bars to make them harder to press on.

For more information, talk to one of our Fitness Experts and get customized advice by submitting a request in our Mavyn app or Mavyn Fitness page