That’s a short amount of time to make some big gains, I’ll admit. But for much of the population adding a grip strength specialization routine to their regular training program can result in significant gains on all of their lifts. Why is improving grip strength so effective? Basically, grip strength tends to be the “weak link” for recreational lifters and athletes alike and, thus, a lot of extra neural activity is wasted in the direction of controlling the grip musculature that can be more effectively directed towards the large muscle groups (think about the deadlift… what fatigues first? Your legs, your back, or your grip? The last thing you should notice fatiguing is your grip). So, spend a handful of weeks crushing your grip and you should quickly notice the following benefits:
1. For most men, another 3-5 reps squeezed out on pulling movements like body weight pull-ups and for most women, another 1-2 reps. 2. The perception of easier deadlifting and – gasp – even squatting! You heard it hear first, folks, a stronger grip will give you a bigger squat, too! 3. A slight bench press PR… it might show up in the form of a repetition PR or a max PR, I’m not sure. But you’ll get a PR, I promise. Want to test this one out? Set up a bench press with just the bar, for the first 5 repetitions lightly grasp the bar and notice how it feels. Then reset and this time squeeze the bar as if your life depends on it. What do you notice now? Something you already though was easy is now way easier and those nagging issues with shoulders and wrists often clear up like magic.
You’ll even get injury prevention benefits for the elbow and shoulder directly from increased and focused grip training. Plus, if you want to include the numerous injury prevention benefits that will come from increasing load and proficiency on the lifts I noted above, you only have to ask yourself… “How fast can I get some heavy fat bar holds going on?!?” At SAPT, grip training is a regular portion of our programs and can be found in forms both direct and indirect. Here are a few examples of some of our favorite direct grip exercises:
• Farmer’s Walk variations with a towel hold. • Kettlebell or plate pinch (squeeze as if you’re trying to ring water from the iron). • Sledge Leveraging. • Sledge Finger Walks (not for the faint of heart). • Barbell Holds – one of my personal favorites for the rowing team at Mason – just load up a barbell and hold with perfect posture for time.
Consider spicing up your routine and your fast tracking your strength gains by adding in some direct grip work – and for goodness sake, if you know what “straps” are, throw them away!