If You Can't Grip It, You Can't Rip It

17 Jul 2009 00:12

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By Joe Weir

I came across the title of this post while I was looking around YouTube (I feel compelled to watch weightlifting vids or strongman events sometimes) and not only is it a classic line but it also reminded me of something I've never really sat down and talked about: Grip Strength! Just like the title says if you can't hang onto the bar or the handles then you can't perform that exercise. You COULD use wrist straps, but where's the fun in that?

Grip strength is possibly one of the most overlooked and under appreciated aspect of any sort of training. This past Christmas I bought myself some Captain's of Crush Grippers, and I love them. Sure a one legged squat or an absurdly heavy pull-up is impressive, but I'd say being able to close a #3 gripper or squeeze and crush a full, unopened, can of coke/beer is just as impressive if not more (the coke can is a very long term goal of mine as well ;).

I'm more obsessed with the crushing aspect but there is more than one type of grip strength. There is pinching, supporting (holding things for extended periods i.e, farmer's walk), and crushing (grippers, handshakes, etc.). And as with any sort of training we want to have a balance between protagonist and antagonist, so we can do exercises that work on opening strength (ie extensions).

Most think grip training is wrist curls or simply doing some deadlifts but it is so much more and truth be told grip training can be a hell of a lot of fun. Just the other day I decided to do some farmer's walks with some dumbbells. This has always been a favorite strongman event of mine but I have never done them consistently because there is never a clear piece of real estate at the gym. I would almost guarantee that I would smash into someone, while carrying a payload of a couple hundred pounds. Now that I workout in the early morning, its not so much of a problem but there is always the occasional person doing some sort of curl or fly right where I have put my 'course. The other reason, now, is that when I did them I was using 125lb dumbbells and the heaviest dumbbell is 135lbs. I have a couple friends around the 160lb mark and I was thinking of asking them if I could use them as 'dbs' once I had progressed that far. I doubt they will agree but nonetheless, fingers crossed, otherwise I'll have to find a longer laneway.

I also enjoy grip training because the results you get are very satisfying. You pull a very heavy deadlift with an over-over grip and all of a sudden the deadlift isn't nearly as impressive as the fact you did it with that grip. Same with pullups. Strapping on a few odd pounds and being able to do a pullup is a very good feeling, but so is doing it without feeling any strain in your forearms and hands.

I mentioned the CoC grippers, they're top of the line but they are a bit pricey. Well, there are plenty of cheap ways to get some good grip training gear. You can train pinching grip by using a hub made out of a hockey puck, some chain and a couple of eyebolts. A favorite of mine is a pinch deadlift. I like taking a pair of dumbbells for this. Simply pinch the bells together and deadlift it, the beauty is that the heavier it gets the thicker the bell is, instant double progression! Supporting grip is easy, just grab something heavy and hold it, irregular objects like a sand bag or a larger rock work wonders. Crushing grip is a bit trickier but it can be done, support your palm on a racked barbell, tie a soft roped to some plates or a db and make a loop on the other end. Put the loop around your fingers and squeeze. It may be barbaric but it costs a lot less than grippers. For opening strength you can plunge your hand (with finger tips touching tip of the thumb) into a bucket of rice and simply open and close your hand. Or for an even cheaper alternative, take one of those big elastic bands that comes with broccoli and again, with finger tips touching thumb, put the elastic at the end of your fingers and thumb and open and close your fingers. When one elastic isn't enough, use two or three.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. You can turn just about anything into a grip training implement.

You never want to let your grip hold you back so its always a good idea to throw in some grip training even if you think you don't need it. You can even make it fun, it doesn't have to be spring loaded handles and static dumbbell holds!

This page created 17 Jul 2009 00:12
Last updated 20 Jul 2016 23:54

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