Zach Kotecki – @ZachKoteckiFitness
What Is Grip Strength?
- Grip strength is determined by the strength of your fingers, forearm, thumb and wrist.
How does it work?
- When we are performing a gripping type of exercise the flexor muscles in the hand/forearm create the “grip strength” while the extensors of the forearm are used to stabilize the wrist and keep it from deviating (mobility).
Did you know that there are 35 muscles that are working when we move our forearms and hand! Mind-blowing! So why are we not training these 35 muscles the same way we train others in our body?
Now, how often have you thought about grip strength when designing a workout program? Or even doing some extra exercises to work on your grip strength when working out? Chances are that we focus and exert almost all of our efforts on making sure we hit every main muscle group; back, legs, chest, etc., that we neglect and fail to work what’s just as important; our grip strength!
Grip training must be present to boost your overall performance and keep making gains!
Your muscles may be strong enough to lift a 700 pound deadlift, but what if your grip can only hold 500lbs. This seems like a lot of wasted effort building up those hamstrings and posterior chain when you should’ve been also working on your grip strength. Better yet what if you were in a life or death situation. Imagine your hanging off a cliff and you have to hold on while help is coming. I think it’s safe to say you would be glad that you trained your grip strength and were able to hold on long enough to be rescued. Your grip must be worked for both strength (deadlift) and also in muscle endurance (cliff hanging). Start thinking of things in the weight room and applying them to real life situations.
Grip strength can also help prevent injury. Without training your grip strength, things like training, playing sports or even doing daily chores around the house can cause injuries resulting in tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome. Its really quite simple, stronger muscles and connective tissues aid in injury prevention. Just as we lifts weights to get bigger and stronger we must condition our grip strength so it too can get stronger.
How lack of grip strength can cause injury in sports.
This is only the case if the athletes grip strength is not well conditioned or trained in his or her sport. For example, if a tennis player has poor grip strength they can develop what’s called “tennis elbow” (lateral epicondylitis) which is an irritation of the tissue that connects the forearm muscles to the elbow. Not a very pleasant feeling I could imagine.
There is another term that accumulates through poorly trained grip and forearms, “golfers elbow.” This isn’t just diagnosed to golfers, but also to people who climb, run obstacle course races or even construction workers. The proper term is medial epicondylitis, pain on the inside of the elbow/forearm. Chances are pretty high that you know someone who suffers from this or maybe even you yourself.
… “these ailments are often caused by improper strength ratios between the elbow muscles and the forearm muscles. If the elbow flexors, like the biceps and brachialis, are too strong for the forearm flexors, uneven tension accumulates in the soft tissue and results in elbow pain”… – Charles Poliquin.
An easy way to prevent all these problems is to make sure we are training our grip regularly and effectively!
The strength of an individuals grip plays a vital role in staying healthy and their overall strength development.
It is important to remember to make sure you train your grip for strength, mobility and endurance. You never know what life may throw at you at any given day. The one who is well rounded and ready at any moment is the one who will survive the longest.
Here are 3 exercises that will help you gain grip strength in all 3 components – Strength, Mobility and Endurance
- This is done by taking a towel and wrapping it up overhead to a pull up bar. Grab each end of the towel in both hands making sure you have a strong and sturdy grip. Now hold on tight and hang from the towel as long as you can without touching the floor. Focus on the mind to muscle connection and keep your core tight. This type of grip is called the “crush” grip. This will help build phenomenal grip strength and make for one deadly handshake!
- This is done by taking 2 weight plates and standing them up on their edges. With as few fingers as possible pinch each weight on the sides as tight as you possibly can. This is called the “pinch” grip. The weight plates should not touch any part of your palms. Try standing up and holding them for time or, if you want to get fancy with it, try doing some walks while holding them. Remember to keep your head neutral, core tight and avoid rounding the back forward or into extension when walking/holding the weight.
- This is done by holding 2 dumbbells by your sides or anything that you can grip, walk and control with (5 gallon buckets work perfect too). For dumbbells hold one in each hand by your sides. Keep arms straight, core tight and head neutral. Begin by walking under control for either distance or time. If you are working your grip strength go heavier in weight. For grip endurance go a little lighter in the weight and walk for a further amount of time than normal. This is called the “support” grip.