You never really understand the importance of incorporating grip strength exercises into your routine until it stops, just as you're trying to block a heavy rep.
Grip strength is something you are born with and is part of your DNA. As early as the 19th century, Louis Robinson, an English surgeon, tested 60 babies by hanging them from a suspended walking stick. With only two exceptions, the infants could last at least 10 seconds, some even 60 seconds or more. Yes, you're born with grip strength, but it's a matter of whether you use it or lose it.
Regular bilateral carry is great and something everyone should do. But if you're taking your grip strength to a new level or looking for a change in grip training, these three unconventional grip strength exercises are for you.
Here we dive into the health and performance benefits of grip training, along with instructions on how to perform a trio of grip strength exercises and programming suggestions to enhance your workout.
Benefits of grip strength training
If you want popeye forearms without having to eat all the spinach, you need to hit forearm and grip strength training hard. Having bigger forearms is an advantage, and here are a few more.
- Improves your fitness and quality of life: A strong grip is great for deadlifts and rowing variations, but it's also needed for many of your daily living activities. Grip strength is required to open doors and carry all your groceries out of the car in one trip. Decreased grip strength has been linked to an eightfold risk of developing muscle disabilities in older adults, and poor grip strength is associated with unfavorable weight gain in women and mortality in men.
- Helps you live longer: In 2015, The Lancet published a study covering the health outcomes of 140,000 people in 17 countries. These individuals were tracked over four years using a variety of measures, one of which was grip strength. Grip strength was "inversely associated with all-cause mortality," and each 5 kg decrease in grip strength was associated with a 17 percent increase in the risk of death.
- Better pulling power: When training with heavier loads, grip strength can be a limiting factor. You can either grab it and rip it or watch the weight crash to the ground. Improving your grip strength prevents this and allows you to do more reps with the same weight or with more weight.
- PHeart Disease Editor: Heart disease is one of the biggest killers, and improving your grip strength can reduce your risk of developing it. The 2015 Lancet study found that decreasing grip strength was associated with an increase in heart attacks and strokes. Grip strength is a stronger predictor of all-cause cardiovascular mortality than systolic blood pressure.
Increase your grip strength training
Here are two ways you can improve these three grip strength exercises to further improve your grip.
- Add more reps, weight, distance, or time: Aside from the messy carry, it's difficult to add weight to the other two exercises. Instead, increase the time you do it (sand spins), the number of reps you do (towel pull-ups), or the distance you carry (chaos carry).
- Tempo training: Using Tempo Lifting with the Towel Pullup encourages you to slow things down and focus on form. You can do fewer reps, but you'll be tensing your working muscle for an incredibly long time.
Top 3 grip strength exercises
Carrying or lifting heavy things with your hands is your first stop for building grip strength. If you want to add variety and take it up a notch, try these 3 exercises.