Does Your Grip Matter More Than You Think? Here's How To Improve Your Grip Strength

Does Your Grip Matter More Than You Think? Here's How To Improve Your Grip Strength

clock-circular-outlinePosted 23 Jan 2024

Our ability to open jars and lids, or carry our shopping home is something we tend to give little thought to. However, we use our grip strength every single day without even thinking about it, whether that’s carrying something upstairs, opening a jar of our favorite condiments, or giving someone a strong handshake.

Improving your grip strength is crucial for keeping your joints healthy and flexible. Strong forearms (the culprit of strong grip strength) can help with posture, coordination, and even your core strength. The better our grip is, the less prone we'll be to fatigue and injury, and the easier it is for us to complete many daily activities.

But beyond completing everyday tasks, grip strength is crucial to athletic performance. The stronger the grip, the heavier you can lift. You use your grip constantly in the gym, for picking up plates to stack on the barbell, testing your hold time hanging from the bar, or attempting that one rep max on your deadlifts. It doesn't matter how strong you are, if your grip strength is weak, you'll struggle to see those gains.

In this article, we’ll give the lowdown on how to improve grip strength, the different types of grip strength, and the benefits of strengthening your grip.

What Is Grip Strength?

Our grip strength is the strength we hold in our hand muscles, wrists, and forearms. It's used to grip, grab, and hold things, and even crush (if ever the need arises).

Contrary to belief, our fingers don't contain muscles. Our hands, however, do. The muscles in our hands are responsible for developing the range of movement in our fingers, which is why it's important to strengthen both our hand and forearm muscles for gripping and wrist actions.

Researchers have found that grip strength is associated with longevity because people with developed grip strength will likely have lived a more physically active life [1]. Grip strength tends to decline around the age of 50, but if we can maintain our grip strength through our adult lives through exercise and mobility, we have the potential to age slower.

Different Types Of Grip Strength

The hands, fingers, biceps, and forearms all play a part in developing a stronger grip. They work together to create three different grip movements:

  • Crush Grip

  • Pinch Grip

  • Support Grip


How To Improve Grip Strength

We can improve our flexibility and protect our joints as we age through mobility and resistance training. So now you know what grip types action which movements, let's find out how you can improve your grip strength, starting with grip exercises you can perform at home or in the gym.

Isolation Grip Exercises:

Isolation exercises that target the muscle groups in the hands and forearms will enhance your grip strength to help develop a firmer grip so you can hold things longer without getting fatigued or sore hands. Isolation exercises can be added to your workouts 2-3 times a week or performed alone as part of a mobility routine.

Ball Squeezes

Not just a tool for relieving tension and stress, a hand exercise ball is a great tool for strengthening the hand muscles and improving your grip strength. Take the squidgy ball that fits in your palm, squeeze for up to five seconds before releasing it, and repeat 10-12 times. This helps target the flexor muscles in the forearms which are beneficial for opening jars and holding on to things easier.

Towel Wrings

If you're working with minimal equipment, the towel wring is a great exercise to perform to improve your grip strength at home. Soak a small towel, take hold of it at each end, and twist in opposite directions to wring the water out. Reverse the directions and repeat several times. This simple exercise uses the hand flexors and extensors to improve grip power and forearm strength.

Plate Pinches

Plate pinches employ the muscles in the hand and forearm that form the pinch grip. To perform this exercise, grab a plate with your thumb on one side of the weight, and your fingers on the other in a pinching position. Keeping an upright posture and arms extended to the side, hold the plates for as long as you can, then put them down with control. Harder than it sounds, this exercise will help improve your grip strength which is especially useful for climbing sports.

Wrist Curls

The wrist curl is a highly effective weight-training exercise that targets the forearm flexor muscles, making it an isolation exercise. Perform a wrist curl by sitting at the end of a bench with a pair of dumbells resting on your legs with your palms facing up. With your wrists hanging off the edge of your legs, bend the wrist down so that the fingers are nearly facing the floor, then use your forearm muscles to curl your wrist back to the starting point. Reverse your arms to face downward and perform the curl the opposite way for reverse wrist curls.

Functional Grip Exercises:

Functional exercises that engage multiple muscle groups are one of the best ways to improve your grip strength, as they mimic movements in everyday life.

Dead Hang

The dead hang is a functional exercise that targets multiple muscle groups in your body ( to improve shoulder mobility and stability, grip strength, posture, and the core. All you have to do is take a passive position, holding on to the pull-up bar and letting your body weight hang down. Dead hangs are great as they stretch your muscles out and allow your spine to decompress which can feel really satisfying for sore muscles or if you've been sat down all day. They're great for building grip strength, try to aim for 20 - 30 seconds to start with, see how long you can hold for then try and beat your results the next time.

Farmers Carry

Farmer's carry is a functional movement that mimics something most of us do every day - carrying bags or groceries, and it targets your entire body. Start standing and grab a pair of kettlebells or dumbells from a squat position, keep your core engaged and an upright posture as you stand and begin walking with the weights. Try to walk for 30 - 60 seconds, the weights should be around 70 - 75% of the heaviest weight you can carry. This is a brilliant exercise to build strength in the arms and hands but it can be quite physically challenging, so try to limit this exercise to 1-2 times a week.

Grip Specific Sports:

Sports that require a lot of handling and grip control can help to develop your grip strength as they challenge your grip endurance. Athletes of these sports were found to have greater grip strength overall than non-players [5]. Time to get a new weekend hobby?

  • Bouldering

  • Tennis

  • Baseball

Tools To Improve Grip Strength:

Hand Gripper

This is a great tool to use to improve wrist strength, finger grip, recovery and to develop a better mind-muscle connection. Take the hand gripper and squeeze between your thumb and fingers, hold for around 15 seconds, and release. This exercise uses your forearm flexors and extensors are the muscles that control the opening and closing of your fingers, which help develop your crush grip. You can use a hand gripper regularly but ensure it's not your only method of improving grip strength.

TIP: Overtraining or overuse of any of the above exercises and tools can cause pain, discomfort, and strain on your hand, so as with everything, moderation is key!

You may be working on improving your grip strength now, but in the meantime, why not consider using lifting straps to help with your big lifts? Find out about the differences between lifting straps, wrist wraps and lifting gloves and which will work best for you.

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons you may want to improve your grip strength, whether you've noticed your ability to open household items weakening, you've just taken on a new hobby in climbing, or you're trying to increase the weight on your deadlifts, your reasoning is valid.

Start incorporating more grip-specific exercises into your workouts and make a conscious effort to focus on your grip in your training regimes. Using hand grippers regularly will improve your hand strength, as will performing any of the exercises or grip-specific sports listed above.

Keep track of your progress as you would with any other muscle you train, and you'll see your strength improve on your big lifts, carries, and holds.








GymsharkBy Gymshark

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