Grip strength is an overlooked strength in the gym, but should never be a limiting factor in picking up some heavy ass weight.
For the average gym goer, grip strength isn’t as important as if you were a powerlifter because using straps at a meet is not allowed. If you need to use straps for heavy deadlifts or rows, don’t feel ashamed, use them.
If you would like to improve your grip strength, there are a few solid exercises that you can add into your current routine to give you a death grip.
A little known fact about grip strength is the stronger your back is, the stronger your grip strength is.
Great Grip Strength Exercises
Farmer’s walks is a great exercise that increases your grip strength as strengthens other muscles.
Muscles worked in a farmer’s walk include:
- Lower Back
Farmer’s walks are a great full body exercise that will train multiple muscles. They are great for grip strength, overall body strength, and a great source of cardio.
They are a cornerstone event in strongman, and you don’t have to have special equipment to do them at your gym. Start out with a moderately heavy dumbbell in each hand and walk. Keep your abs and back tight and make smaller steps than usual and walk.
If you don’t have room to walk, sitting or standing while holding the dumbbells will still increase grip strength and put stress on your upper back, traps, and abs.
Pull Up Hangs
Pull up hangs are where you grab the pull up bar and hang there. The point of this is to hang on the bar as long as you can before your grip slips. If you are able to do pull ups, doing a pause in between each pull up will give you more time under tension and will really build some great grip strength.
Pull Up Hang Variation
Use a false grip with this exercise to further increase intensity.
Deadlifts are the king of grip and back strength building. Deadlifts should be in everyone’s routine regardless of your goals.
When performing heavy deadlifts if you need to use straps, use them. Letting your grip strength limit how much muscle and strength you build is foolish; use straps if you need them.
Using Deadlift Variations to Build Grip Strength
False Grip Deadlifts – A false grip deadlift is a deadlift where your thumb wraps the same direction around the bar as your other fingers. Your thumb is what usually keeps the bar from slipping and rolling out of your hands. When you remove the thumb from the equation, you must really squeeze and flex your forearms to hold onto the bar.
Since you will not be able to hold nearly as much as you normally can, adding these in during your warmup sets keeps you from having to do deadlifts twice a week.
*Bonus* At the top of your deadlift, hold the weight in your hands for an extended count; not only will it work your grip strength, but will help you get a good flex on your glutes and hamstrings, as well as hit your upper back and traps.
I prefer to use these techniques on my warmup sets of deadlifts so that when I get to the heavy working sets I can use straps and have no trouble holding onto the weight.
Plate pinches are a great way to really burn up your forearms and hand muscles. Hold a plate, squeezing it like you would hold a piece of paper for as long as you can. I would recommend using this as the final thing you do in your routine for the day because your grip will be gone by the time you do a few sets of these.
Pinching two plates together is a great way to add intensity. Be careful when doing plate pinches, it’s easy to lose grip and take out a shin or a foot. I’ve taken out a toe and a shin just carrying a plate to put on the bar, so be careful with plate pinches.
Grip Strength Tools
There are many different tools to help build grip strength. Google “grip strength” and it will give you a lot of results for different items built to increase grip strength. I’ve never used any of these tools as a way to increase strength, so read the reviews and make a smart purchase if you go that route. I’ve always had great luck with increasing grip strength at the gym using these exercises above.
Extra Tips for Building Grip Strength
Any exercise that is a rowing motion generally is an exercise where your grip can fail you. These exercises are great to use to build a thick back as well as build up your grip strength.
On any rowing exercise, utilizing a false grip on the bar will give you a different feel on your pulls and will help build grip strength. When you do these exercises and variations during your warmup sets, you can use straps on your working sets since you will not have much grip left.
Any time you put your hands on a barbell or dumbbell, squeeze them as hard as you can. Squeezing the barbell or dumbbell as hard as you can is great for building your grip and also activates more muscles in your body, helping you stay tight and help keep good form on your exercises.
Don’t let the bros intimidate you into thinking you are a wuss if you use straps. Pick up some heavy ass weight and get stronger.
Be sure to comment below if you try any of these exercises or variations and let me know how you like them!