Get Gripped II: Old Equipment, New Tricks
- 03-30-2011, 11:58 AM
Get Gripped II: Old Equipment, New Tricks
It’s been a while since I posted the first part in this series but having been training for this novice comp in May my grip has been once again taxed to new limits. Lets just say after a heavy farmers walks session grip is very much on my mind. That and copious amounts of pain killers and/or alcohol. Honestly it’s like they’ve been designed to remove skin rather than perform as exercise apparatus.
Anyway, I thought the best way to continue with the grip stuff would be to talk about some basic grip exercises that everybody can do. The main problem when you get into the grip/hand strength world is that a lot of competitions require the use of some pretty specialist equipment (and in later articles I’ll talk about whats the best, where to get it, and how to use it) that not everybody has the money or inclination to buy.
Whether we’re talking grippers like the Captains of Crush by Ironmind, Fat Gripz, axle bars, 3″ handle dumbells or replicas of the legendary Thomas Inch Dumbell, theres block weights, europinches, bar bending, nail bending, battling ropes, David Horne’s Grip Topz (amazing stuff), or about a million other things on the market. One of the things I love about grip training is how inventive you can be, and the sheer range of tools out there are a testament to the ingenuity and ambition of enthusiasts.
But never fear! Theres a hell of a lot you can do in even the most mainstream of gyms to improve your hand, wrist, forearm, and finger strength. The exercises I’ll talk about in this article are only a few of a tonne of different things you could put into your programs. Like I said above – be inventive! Theres no right or wrong so long as you get results. Look at what you want to increase your grip strength for, and devise some weird and wonderful way to do it.
Theres a quick video of all these exercises at the end, because my descriptions make about as much sense as benching on a bosu ball.
Plate Pinches – Pinch grip is a big part of overall grip strength and pinching events appear at almost every major competition. One of the most basic ways of doing this is by simply using barbell plates. You can either do these two handed or one handed, it’s up to you. Get two plates of the same weight and size and put them together. If one of the sides of each plate is completely flat (most metal plates are like this) have those sides facing outwards. If they’re rubberized you’ll just have to go with what you have. Put your fingers together and keep them as straight as possible (only bend them at the first knuckle if possible) and do the same with your thumb. Slide your hand over the two plates, squeeze them together, and lift them up like a deadlift.
The main thing to be aware of is to minimize using the rims of the plates to help you – we’re training pinch grip, not fingertip strength! You can either do these as timed holds or for reps. Mix it up a little!
One Arm Deadlifts – Can’t get much simpler than this. Deadlift a bar off the floor as you would normally, but with only one hand. Place it a little off center, squeeze, lift. The balance can be a problem sometimes but stick with it and you’ll find a good spot. I would do these for reps or working up to heavy singles every few workouts. Hook grip is optional, and if you don’t know about hook grip you probably aren’t ready to use it anyway.
Thick Bar Rows – Training with bars that are thicker than normal is one of the best ways to improve overall hand strength. Some bars are so thick you have trouble simply getting your hand around them let alone lifting them. The poor mans way to do thick bar training is to utilize the loading ends of an olympic bar. You can do a variety of different things with these, but I find rows make the most sense because you’ll get some back training out of it aswell. Load one end of an olympic bar with weight as you would for a T-bar row but stand the other side (at the end) of the bar. Grab it, and row it!
Dumbell Hub Lifts – Hub lifting is great for finger strength, and is a bit similar to pinching. If you have metal plates in your gym you can do hub lifts with the central bore of the plate sometimes, and I recommend you try it because its great! If you can hub lift a 20kg (45lb) plate in this way you’re doing damn well, haha! As for dumbell hub lifts, this only works if your dumbells are plate loaded (or fixed with plates) with a small enough plate on the end. Pretty specific, eh? Turn the dumbell on its end, and lift it using this small plate.
Thick Dumbell Cleans/Snatches – This is a great one, and it’s not just useful for cleans and snatches. Grab a hand towel and wrap it around the handle of your favourite dumbell – voila! A poor mans thick handle! Now you’re ready to make pretty much any exercise a grip exercise. I like cleans and snatches because of the explosive element involved. These two exercises are pretty tough on the grip as it is, but with a thick handle they’re even tougher. The towel has a tendency to slide about a bit so make sure you squeeze hard.
Thick Bar Pullups – Much in the same vein, wrapping towels around a pullup bar is a fiendishly good way of frying your grip. Now the towel really will try its best to slide off so good luck! These are absolutely fantastic for building up your regular pullups aswell. Try them with added weight, or just hang from a thick pullup bar for time. Hell, do both, just don’t expect to be writing home for a while.
Towel Pullups – Finally, yet another use for that towel. I’m starting to think Douglas Adams was onto something here. Not only can you make your bar thicker, but you can dispense with it entirely by instead holding the ends of your towel (or towels) and doing pullups that way. Drape the towel over the bar or handles in some fashion, squeeze the two ends of the towel, and have at it.
YouTube - Basic Grip Exercises
So there you have it. A handful of exercises to target a few different areas of grip strength that don’t need any special equipment. You can integrate these into your training any way you like. If you’re fairly new to this type of training i’d put one exercise on the end of your regular workouts for a while rather than having a workout dedicated to them. The hands and wrists are pretty resilient in terms of recovery but if you over-tax them and get an injury it can take a long time to fully recover.
Tendonitis is another thing to watch out for in the elbows so if you start feeling that sort of pain stop right away and get some ice on it. If it happens often you might want to reduce your grip training volume/loads/frequency and build up more gradually. Theres a few supplements that can help, too, but like I said in a recent article on that subject…well, go read it yourself.
Hopefully you’ll enjoy these exercises as much as me, and more importantly I hope you’ll get some strength gains out of them! Like anything else grip strength is a constant building process, and while I consider myself to have an above average grip I’m still a tiny fish in a huge pond relatively speaking.
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- 03-30-2011, 12:22 PM
- 6'0" 198 lbs.
- Join Date
- Apr 2009
- Rep Power
Nice man! Been waiting for this
- 04-21-2011, 07:22 AM
There's one I really like that's a modification of plate pinching. I think I got this from a different youtube somewhere online, or maybe I made it up. I get in position like I'm going to do a seated wrist curl (support your elbow on a knee/thigh). Position weighted plates (I can only do this with 10-25lbs) on the ground standing up, like in your video. Then pinch with only two fingers (thumb plus another), and lift off the ground like you're doing a bicep curl. Try your best to make sure the only contacts are your fingertips as sometimes your whole fingers can wrap around the weight and provide even more contact points, some of which might have a force originating from some other place. Anyways, it's pretty great.
Now this is for more of a static grip thing, but I also like hanging off a pullup bar with 2-3 plates with overhand grip and just see how long I can maintain that. Also, on days I do back, when I stretch using a lat pulldown sometimes I won't use wrist wraps - I'll just put on the whole stack on the lat pulldown, get into position, and hang on it. It's real nice.
I've never tried fat/towel grip training before, though. I will give it a shot sometime.
04-22-2011, 12:43 PM
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