When performing feats of strength, you are only as strong as your weakest link. For many people, that weak link is their grip. It doesn’t matter how big your biceps or how sculpted your triceps are – if your grip is weak, you are nothing but an empty threat. Pull-ups, deadlifts, climbing ropes, rock climbing, grabbing, holding and subduing an opponent all require a vice-like grip.
A lot of gym bros use wrist straps to make up for their puny grip. Don’t be one of them. All wrist straps do is treat the symptom and not the cause. If you have a weak grip, ditch the straps and spend the next few months turning your hands into power clamps.
#1 DEADLIFT HOLDS
Grip exercises don’t get much simpler than this. Load up a barbell with plenty of weight, deadlift it with a double overhand grip, and then hold it until your hands give out. Pound your grip into submission by trying to crush the bar with all your might.
For progression, increase the weight rather than the duration of your holds. We’re building grip strength not endurance here! No barbell? No problem? Do weighted hangs from a pull-up bar instead.
This is a highly functional exercise that strengthens your entire body – from your calves to your hands to your upper back. Hold a heavy dumbbell in each hand and then go for a walk around your training area. Put the weights down just before your hands give out.
Add an extra dimension to this exercise by using just one weight at a time. This asymmetrical load turns a fantastic grip exercise into an equally effective grip AND core exercise.
#3 PLATE PINCH
There are lots of different muscles in your hands and forearms. Plate pinches emphasize the muscles in your fingers. Place two weight plates back-to-back and stand them on their edges. Hold the plates with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other. Squeeze the plates together as hard as you can and then pick them up. Hold them off the deck for as long as you can. Don’t hold the weights over your toes for obvious reasons!
#4 HEX DUMBBELL HOLDS
Hex dumbbells are made for grip training. Stand a hex dumbbell on its end. Spread your fingers and grip the edges of the uppermost weight. Pick it up and hold it until your grip is about to fail. Set the weight back down, swap hands, and repeat. Hex dumbbells usually get bigger as they get heavier, providing a double grip challenge.
#5 SANDBAG TRAINING
Sandbags are one of the best ways to train for increased grip strength. You can’t use lifting straps, even if you want to, and you have no choice but to grip the fabric of the bag for whatever exercise you are doing.
You can buy sandbags, but that's like buying rocks! Just grab a duffle, some sand, a roll of duct tape, and a whole lot of sturdy Ziploc bags. Portion out the sand into the Ziploc bags to make individual weights. Seal them shut with the duct tape. Next, load the required number of sand weights into your duffle and then tie it closed.
Use your sandbag for exercises like curls, presses, rows, deadlifts, and squats. Don’t use the handle on the duffle. Cut it off if you can’t resist using it. Instead, grab handfuls of the material and work your grip as you train the rest of your body. As an added benefit, the shifting sand in the bag will also hammer your stabilizer muscles for even greater strength improvements.
Try implementing some of these exercises into your training and you'll get that vice-like grip in no time! For training plan options make sure you check out the link below.