You can knock out chest presses and perform bicep curls like a pro. Yet, your fingers feel like breaking off each time you attempt a deadlift or a pull-up. What gives? That, my friend, is a sign of poor grip strength.
What, then, should you do to improve your grip strength? Should you buy a grip strengthener? But do they even work, or are they just a gimmick to convince you to spend your hard-earned money? Let’s find out.
Keep reading until the end as I also share with you the types of grip, how to hold a grip properly, the benefits of having a strong grip, practices to improve grip strength, and more! Let’s get started.
So, Do Grip Strengtheners Work?
Yes, grip strengtheners work and should be essential to your strength program. These affordable grip training tools provide endless benefits without breaking the bank.
Regular training with grip strengtheners will help you have a firm handshake, lift heavier weights, throw stronger punches, improve your forearm strength and endurance, and prevent injuries as you move heavy objects.
Related: Best Grip Strengthener
The Three Types of Grip
Grip strength training goes beyond squeezing a stress relief ball or a gripper. After all, there are different grip types, and you can train each type using various methods.
- Crush Grip
A crush grip is a grip between your palm and fingers. An excellent example of this type of grip is when you close your hand as tightly as your hand, like a crushing method. The most effective ways to train your crush grip are thick bars, rolling handles, axles, and hand grippers.
- Support Grip
This type of grip is significant as it is your endurance – how long you can hold onto an object. Performing “hold time” or lifts is a great way to improve your support grip. Regular gym exercises, such as pull-ups, deadlifts, and rows, are also excellent for developing a support grip.
Related: Close Grip Lat Pulldown vs. Wide Grip
- Pinch Grip
This is the grip between your thumb and your fingers. It can be subcategorized further into thumb grip + individual fingers. The pinch grip is the least commonly used daily, but it enables you to perform great-looking grip feats.
How To Hold A Grip Strengthener Properly
Sample Grip Strengthener Routine
Knowing how to hold a grip strengthener properly is essential. But now, you’ll need a routine to combine all grip exercises.
Perform three sets of 15 to 20 reps using a light resistance gripper. You can do isometric, eccentric, low, or high reps.
Perform four sets of five to six reps using a heavy resistance gripper. Do a drop set on your last set wherein you grab a light resistance hand gripper, then do as many reps as possible until your hand is tired.
Use a light or moderate resistance hand gripper for day three. Perform four sets of eight to 10 reps with a slow eccentric. Your goal is to maintain the tension during hand opening or eccentric range of motion and not get the reps done as fast as possible.
Use a light resistance gripper for day four. Close the handles and isometrically hold them for about 20 to 30 seconds — complete three sets.
Use two hands to close the handles of a heavy resistance gripper. Remove one hand and slowly open your hand after 4-5 seconds — complete three sets of three to five reps.
Exercises to Strengthen Your Grip
- Reverse curl
- Fingertip push-up
- Standing cable row with a towel
- Rope pull
- Bottom-up kettlebell shoulder press
- Farmer’s walk with weight plates
- Squeezing a racket or tennis ball
- Pulls and chin-ups
- Bar hangs
- Sledgehammer work
Remarkable Benefits of Having a Strong Grip
- Firm Handshake – A firm handshake radiates strength, confidence, self-motivation, masculinity, assertiveness, and personal connection. It’s a non-verbal form of communication that creates a strong impact. Paying more emphasis on grip exercises also helps you have a strong grip, enabling you to give a firm handshake.
- Prevent Injuries – Weightlifting, sports, and mundane daily tasks can result in minor discomfort or severe conditions (carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow) without grip strength.
However, you have stronger connective tissues and muscles with a firm grip. All these work together to prevent injury.
- Lower Mortality Risk – A firm grip helps increase your lifespan. A 2015 study measured the link between potential health benefits and grip strength. They found that there is indeed a correlation between grip strength and cardiovascular, bone, and overall health.
- Predictor of Cardiovascular Disease – Studies reported that handgrip strength is a predictor of cardiovascular disease. If you want strong muscles, especially those that affect your grip force, you must do resistance training twice or thrice a week.
- Improved Quality of Life – Research has shown that a strong grip equates to health strength. For the elderly, grip strength is correlated to increased mobility, cognitive decline, decreased death rate, and appropriate functional status.
- Bigger Forearms – If you incorporate grip strengtheners in your workouts, the grip strengthener can help you build huge forearms, especially true if you do wrist exercises, forearm curls, and plate holds.
- Lift Heavier Weights – Strong grip improves your lifting capabilities and allows you to break a plateau.
- Improved Sports Performance – Grip training is essential for those who train in MMA, submission grappling, judo, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ). Having a strong grip puts the player at an advantage when doing grappling art. Meanwhile, rock climbers can ascend a challenging route with impressive grip strength.
- More Endurance – Having a stronger grip has a direct benefit to your endurance. Hanging from a pull-up bar, for instance, activates multiple muscles (shoulders, wrist, lats, hand, and traps) and requires more strength.
Related: Benefits of Strength Training: 10 Ways it Makes Your Live Longer and Better
5 Best Practices to Improve Grip Strength
1. Squeezing of object
2. Baoding balls
3. Use of grip strengthener
4. Sticky fingers exercise
5. Power squeeze
Guide to Buying the Best Grip Strengtheners
Hand/Grip Strengthener Size
To use the handheld device properly, ensure you get the right size. I recommend you start with three sizes of the Captains of Crush Hand Gripper and learn how to correctly position the tool in your hand.
The tissue structures in your hands and wrists are small in proportion and delicate. Excessive resistance to these structures can lead to injury once the body is unprepared. Therefore, choosing the correct resistance level is essential in grip strengthening.
The resistance level you’ll choose may require some personal judgment. If you think your grip is relatively weak, choose a hand gripper with light resistance. If you believe your grip is strong but want to improve it, opt for heavier resistance levels.
Adjustability/Range of Usability
Some grips are locked to a certain resistance level. Thus, they’re called the “fixed grips.” They are durable, yet you may have to purchase several ones to train at different resistance levels.
Contrastingly, some grips are adjustable to the ideal level of resistance the user wants. Some adjustable hand grippers or hand grip strengtheners come in a kit, including a finger exerciser, grip ring, and stress relief ball.
Grip strengthens made of a stainless steel frame is the best choice because it is less likely to break when you use it. You may also choose one with knurled or rubberized handles to prevent the tool from slipping out of your hand.
People Also Ask: FAQs About Grip Training and Grip Strengtheners
What is normal hand strength?
A standard hand or grip strength is a squeeze of 72.6 pounds for men and 44 pounds for women. You can determine your grip strength by your wrist, fingers, forearm, and thumb.
How many hand grips should I do a day?
It depends on your preference and workout goal. You can do 15 to 20 reps of hand grips daily if your finger and hand can handle it. But for beginners, try around 5 to 8 reps for each hand.
Is it okay to use hand grippers every day?
Yes, it is safe to use hand grippers daily, as long as it is used with the correct resistance level and for the right duration.
But as much as possible, avoid using hand grippers every day. Using it too often can lead to overtraining or chronic overuse injuries related to resistance exercises. Allow one to two days of rest in your training session. This way, your forearm muscles can recover before being taxed again, just like how you train your other muscle group.
The most advisable frequency to use hand grippers for good results is two to three times per week. You can use it less or more than the suggested days if allowed by your workout routine.
How do you adjust an adjustable hand gripper?
To change the resistance of your adjustable hand gripper (ranges from 10 to 60kg resistance), turn the knob on the side. The further away the spring from the gripper, the higher the resistance level or tension.
How long should I hold a gripper?
Hold a gripper for 20 to 30 seconds using a light resistance gripper. Once you’re comfortable with that, add 10 seconds to 2 minutes.
The Verdict: Do Grip Strengtheners Work?
In conclusion, grip strengtheners do work, and they’re effective too! As long as the user adheres to the correct training methodology and incorporates it with a proper workout routine, there’s no doubt that hand grippers will add to a person’s physical fitness.
I am not suggesting that you run out and purchase a grip strengthener now. But if you have one at home, there’s no harm in starting to use it.
For access to more exercise and fitness articles, lifestyle tips, celebrity workouts, nutrition and health info, visit ExpertFitness.org.
Nathan Lloyd, MSc
LICENSED PERSONAL TRAINER
I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.
If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.