Improving hand strength is essential, since grip strength is one of the human abilities that is most often lost with age. We all want to slow down deterioration and aging as much as possible. We want to continue gripping everyday objects tightly, even when we are older. Improving hand grip translates into quality of life. We can do some exercises and use recommended utensils to gain strength in our hands and fingers. It is best to start training grip when we are young, although it is really advisable to do this at any age. Here is the complete guide to achieve it.
The importance of grip strength
Many people want to improve their hand grip for various reasons. First and foremost, there is functionality, although some also need a good grip to practice a sport or activity. Let's look at some areas where it is important to have strong fingers:
- Deadlift, a very demanding strength and muscle-building exercise. Perhaps it is the exercise that most requires a good grip.
- Other bodybuilding exercises such as rows and pull-ups.
- Racquet sports such as tennis, paddle tennis or badminton (we need to increase hand strength to better grip the racket).
- Firefighter exams (for example, for the rope climbing test).
- For general daily activities.
Grip strength is important for many other benefits that you didn't even know about. A strong grip speaks volumes about your overall health. It can even reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. When you regularly practice hand strength exercises , you improve your athletic performance. Additionally, if you train in the gym and are committed to lifting more and more weight in the main exercises, a good grip will add kilograms to each lift.
Having strength in your hands and fingers prevents injuries, improves quality of life and reduces the risk of muscle tears. In addition, working on grip strength promotes cognitive function and even increases bone density. If you want to be able to move heavy weights (both in and out of a gym), start training your hand strength. You will reduce your risk of mortality and increase your muscular endurance.
Pay attention to the following exercises and methods that we are going to advise you. First, we'll look at some ways to improve your hand grip in the gym. Then, we will teach you tricks to strengthen your grip at home comfortably. We will also have a special section for those looking to improve their deadlift grip.
4 exercises to improve grip strength in the gym
If you go to the gym regularly, here we explain how to increase your grip strength with exercises . Having a good grip is important to correctly train your muscles. If you have weakness in your hands, you will be focused on this problem while doing your training sets, so you will not be able to properly isolate the muscles to be worked.
Practice exercises to improve your grip and gain strength in your hands. You'll have more strength on deadlifts, barbell rows, pull-ups, lat pulldowns, and even bicep curls and bench presses.
1. Pinch and hold the plates with your hand
- Stand up and, using your fingers, hold a 10 or 20 kg plate in each hand while keeping your hands at your sides. Hold the puck for as long as you can until your hands give out.
- Alternatively, you can hold two or more 10kg discs with the smooth side facing out. You have to hold the discs with your fingers for a while.
Try to keep your chest up and shoulders down to maintain correct posture. This exercise can be even more difficult if you walk while holding the weights.
- Do three to four sets until you are close to muscle failure and your grip can no longer resist.
With this grip strength exercise , you will increase the strength of your fingers and thumbs. You will improve the strength and endurance of the muscles in your forearms . Thanks to this exercise, you will directly transfer your grip strength to various activities, making it highly advisable for rugby players, climbers and wrestlers. Also for weightlifters and Crossfit practitioners.
2. Farmer's walk to improve hand grip
This is perhaps the most classic and well-known exercise to increase grip strength in a gym. In addition, it allows you to obtain various objects. Any heavy object you can grab will come in handy for farmer's walks.
You can do this exercise with dumbbells or Strongman bags (also with kettlebells).
- Grab two dumbbells or heavy suitcases (one in each hand).
- Stand with your hands on either side of your body and holding objects.
- Pull your shoulders back and down and tighten your abdomen.
- Now, walk at a constant pace for a set time or distance. Rest and repeat the walk.
You have to keep your gaze fixed and look directly at the ground a few feet away from you.
- Do three to four sets of movements of 30-40 seconds. Ideally, you should finish the sets when your hands give way and you can't take it anymore (when you reach muscle failure).
The farmer's walk exercise also puts a large load on the forearms. Your forearms will spend a lot of time under tension, so you will develop muscles. Since this movement can be performed with a good variety of objects, it is a very accessible grip exercise for athletes of various levels.
How to make this exercise more difficult?
Here we are going to show you two great ways to add difficulty to the exercise:
- An object with a thinner handle will be more difficult for you to grasp with your hand. Then your grip will work much harder. There are special suitcases for Strongman with a thin perimeter on the handle. If you don't have the Strongman bags, you can carry two slim gym bars.
- We can also do the opposite, which is to use a much thicker handle to make it difficult for us to grip the object. For this, we have "fat-grips" , which are quite affordable accessories that can be purchased at any bodybuilding or sports store. Place the fat-grip on the handle of the dumbbell to increase thickness.
Plus, you can attach the fat-grips to the bar or dumbbell for any exercise. These training partners will make it difficult for your hands to grip practically anything you do: deadlifts, farmer's walk, barbell rows, bicep curls, cable pulldowns...
3. Finger curl
This is another exercise that is not so well known, but that you will love to gain strength in your fingers due to its simplicity and the sensations it will leave you with. The movement is called finger curl or finger curl. . Learn how it's done. You only need one dumbbell.
- Don't use a dumbbell that is too heavy.
- First, stand with your arm extended alongside your body and holding a dumbbell in your hand.
- Little by little, open your hand and slide the dumbbell to the tips of your fingers.
- When you have the dumbbell on your fingertips, you should close your hand completely.
- Do repetitions of opening and closing your hand until your fingers are completely exhausted and your grip strength gives way.
4. Deadlift with pause on the top
Do you know the deadlift exercise? If not, don't worry, we have a complete guide for you to learn it. This bodybuilding movement basically consists of bending down to lift a bar loaded with plates off the ground. There is a little trick we can do to increase grip strength of our hands when performing the deadlift.
- Start as you would do a normal deadlift. Stand in front of the bar.
- Bend over to grab the bar at shoulder height and take a deep breath. Keep your legs close to the bar.
- While keeping your arms straight like hooks, stand upright with the bar in your hands and exhale when you are fully standing.
- When you are standing, hold the position with the bar in your hands for about 5 seconds . Do this for every rep of the set. This is the little variation that will put our forearms to the test for an extra 5 seconds in each repetition.
Are you interested?:
- You can do your effective sets of deadlifts in the conventional way (no pause above). After the work sets, you can add 1 or 2 more sets, maintaining the 5-second pause in each repetition to strengthen your hand grip.
Put all these exercises into practice. You don't have to do all four in the same training session at the gym. Your hands may not be able to handle so much work. You can choose a couple of these hand strength exercises for one session.
Ideally, you should do the sets until muscle failure (until your hands can no longer support the weight and it falls).
How to improve grip strength at home
Now we will see some things to strengthen our hand and increase our grip capacity. I have tried these items and, honestly, they are worth it. With them, you can start doing finger strength exercises , which will come in handy to improve your grip strength in climbing, deadlifts and all bodybuilding exercises in the gym. The best thing is that you can use these objects at home comfortably.
Gripper or grip exerciser
You can buy this accessory in sports stores such as Decathlon. The item is shaped like a clamp and you basically have to place it in your hand to squeeze the "legs" together. This device to strengthen the grip is adjustable, so it has several positions to offer different kilos of resistance. For example, some models can be adjusted from 10 kg to 60 kg. In the last level, you will have to apply the maximum force of your hand and it will be challenging for you.
Rubber ring to strengthen grip
The second object to strengthen the hand has been a revelation and I loved it since I tried it. The design is simple: it is simply a rubber donut that you have to squeeze with your hand until the opposite ends of the ring meet (if you can).
How to use? Since the object is made of rubber, the circle will deform slightly each time you squeeze it, so it is recommended to rotate the donut clockwise with each repetition. With each squeeze, the ring will have flattened a little, so you will give it a quarter turn to tighten it again from the widest area (which will make repetition more difficult).
Each donut has a color that represents a different level of resistance. In the product that we will see as an example, the colors and resistances are as follows:
- Yellow: 13.5 kg / 30 lbs
- Pink: 18 kg / 40 lbs
- Blue: 22.5 kg / 50 lbs
- Green: 27 kg / 60 lbs
- Orange: 32 kg / 70 lbs
- Black: 36 kg / 80 lbs
For those more experienced with grip exercises, there is this gray donut with up to 100 lbs or 45 kg of resistance! This will really be complicated!
Is the rubber donut or the gripper better? Personally, the donut has left me with a better feeling of training. The circular shape really provides an extra challenge to the exercise. Also, after trying a gripper and a donut with the same level of resistance, I always found the donut to be more difficult. Maybe it's just a personal and subjective assessment.
Stay a little longer and I will teach you how to train with these objects.
HOW TO TRAIN HAND STRENGTH WITH OBJECTS?
I propose two exercises to have more strength in your hands and you can do them with the objects that have been recommended before. You can do the progressions the way I explain.
1. Repetitions : This involves doing as many repetitions as you can. One repetition involves bringing the legs of the clamp or the ends of the ring together. When you do a workout, write down the number of repetitions in a row you did for the first set. In the following workouts, try to exceed the number of repetitions for a resistance. For example, if you managed to do 50 repetitions in a row with the 32 kg donut, try doing 56 in the next workout, and 60 in the next... You can also modify the difficulty of your repetitions. For example, holding for 3 seconds on each handshake. Or you can time yourself and do the reps as quickly as possible. Find your ways to progress in exercise.
2. Hold on for a while : This is the second way to train strength with objects. Instead of doing multiple repetitions, it consists of bringing the ends of the object together with your hand and holding in this position until you can't take it anymore. Imagine that you can hold on for 30 seconds squeezing the 40kg clamp until your hand opens. Your goal in the next workout will be to hold on, if you can, for 40 seconds. In the next workout, try keeping your hand closed for 50 seconds; then, 1 minute, and so on... Always write down your endurance record with a given load to improve yourself.
You can also alternate between these two exercise modalities in the same workout to improve your grip strength . As an example, you can first do a set of maximum repetitions and then hold the position with your closed hand for as many seconds as you can (or vice versa!).
Increase your deadlift grip strength
One of the reasons people look for exercises to improve grip strength is deadlifts . Not much needs to be said about this: if you don't have a good finger grip, you're lost for deadlifting. Your muscles may have the potential to lift heavier and heavier weights, but you'll never reach your limits because your hands fail... Unless you can do something, of course!
All the exercises and objects that I have shown you will be very useful for you to improve your deadlift. Now, if you want more tips on how to improve finger strength, I will teach you the secrets that I have used to lift 180 kg (I weigh 82 kg). How to improve your grip on the bar when doing deadlifts ?
Tip 1: Use a pre-exhaustion exercise
My first recommendation is that before deadlifting, do a couple of intense sets of biceps curls. Do Z-bar biceps curls as the first exercise and deadlifts as the second exercise. Exercising biceps will exhaust your arms, so you'll work deadlifts under fatigue.
The idea is that, the day you do deadlifts as your first exercise and with your arms rested, you will notice that the bar weighs much less and you will lift more kilos. You can also use bar pull-ups as a pre-exhaustion exercise. I guarantee that this technique has worked very well for me.
Tip 2: Do not use mixed grip or straps in approach sets
We all tend to use the mixed grip (or wrist strap) because it is stronger and keeps the bar from slipping out of our hands. However, if you want to strengthen your grip, it is best to always do a few sets with the normal grip. Always do your warm-up and approach sets with the conventional grip (both palms facing your body). Reserve the mixed grip for your effective sets , which will be the heaviest and most demanding work of the training.
Also do not use gloves or magnesium during warm-up sets. Leave these accessories for the effective and heavy work.
Tip 3: Train without magnesium for a season
We well know that liquid or chalk magnesium is one of the best options to increase grip strength in your hands. However, my recommendation here is that you train deadlifts without using magnesium for some periods. The idea is to make your grip as difficult as possible in the work sets so that, when you use the magnesium again, the bar feels much lighter and you can do more repetitions or move larger loads.
I assure you that these three techniques have worked wonderfully for me. After applying them, I have got repetition records with some loads and I have been surprised by the results.
Here are some records that I have achieved in the conventional deadlift using these tips:
Curiosity - What is the average grip strength in kg?
We finish with something that you will find curious and interesting. We found the maximum average hand grip strength in people between 20 and 29 years old. Men in this age range can apply an average squeeze of 46 kg (101.4 lbs), while women 29 kg (64 lbs). However, after the age of 30, this grip strength decreases if you do not work. Between the ages of 60 and 69, hand strength will have dropped to 39 kg (86 lbs) in men and 23.5 kg (52 lbs) in women.
Hand strength is lost with age, because aging causes a decrease in muscle mass and function. In fact, starting in middle age, we lose 1% per year in strength and muscle mass. For this reason, it is important that you regularly do exercises to keep your hands strong. Hand strength is an indication of general health.
Finger and hand strength is measured with an electronic device called a dynamometer. It is very easy to use. You can get one of these if you're curious about your strength.
- Another good grip exercise is to do pull-ups while holding onto a towel or rope. Try it too!
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You now have everything you need to know about hand strength . Use our exercises and tips to get the most out of your grip strength. It is essential to improve your grip in pull-ups, deadlifts, climbing, bodybuilding and everyday life in general. Grip is health!