4 exercises for grip strength

Improve your grip with these four movements.

How’s your grip strength?

Having grip strength is such a functional asset to have. It carries over into so many different movements and it’s involved in almost every upper body exercise (and some lower body ones too). So there’s every reason to want to make yours better.

With that in mind, here are four exercises to add into your regular program. A few sets of these every week and you should noticeably improve your grip.

Farmer’s walks

Grab some dumbbells that are just heavier than you could comfortably curl. Hold them straight down at your sides and, simply, walk around the gym. Try to find a straight line to walk up and back to your starting position. As you walk, keep your lats flared so the dumbbells hang further out to the sides. Brace your core and make sure not to oscillate from side to side as you walk. Use common sense and pick a time that’s not super busy so you have a free area to walk. A strongman staple, the farmer’s walk can also be taxing enough that you can use it as a cardio or conditioning finisher.

Tip: Just like knowing how many reps you’re aiming for, it’s helpful with these to decide how many steps you’re going to do.

Bar hangs

Position yourself at a power rack, athletic rig, cable system or dedicated chins/pull-up machine. Grab the bar or chin-up bars and simply hang there. See how long you can hang there with just your body weight to pull you down. Can you last 30 seconds? A minute? Once you feel like it’s getting easy and you’re used to it, you can add some weight. Try holding a dumbbell with your feet or use a weighted belt for some extra load. A great addition to back day, especially if you already have chin-ups or pull-ups in your workout.

Tip: Squeeze just tightly enough that you’re gripping the bar solidly, but not so tightly that you fatigue prematurely.

Deadlift holds

Add these in before, during or after your deadlifts. Or do it separately. It’s a great grip trainer however you do it, so just do them. Get into the top position of a deadlift, with a weighted barbell hanging at your quads. Hold for 30 seconds or so. Make sure you’re squeezing the bar as tightly as you can. Using chalk or straps is fine (and can help you push past the point of fatigue), as long as you make sure you’re focusing on the grip and feeling that squeeze through your wrists and forearms.

Tip: You can also do this in a rack, in between rack pulls,  with the pins or arms set just between knee and waist height.

Hand gripper

If you have to be at a desk all day, having a small hand gripper handy can be useful. A few sets of these throughout the day can keep your grip strong and ward off desk job syndrome such as RSI. Keep one at your desk or at home to use while you’re otherwise relaxing. (In addition, if your gym happens to have a dedicated grip machine such as the Gripper, why not have a go?)

Tip: Try sets of 20 a few times a day, alternating between left and right hands.

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