Get a grip! Training for grip strength

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Grip strength is a combination of grip strength (hands) and strong forearms. How do you train your hands and forearms? Is buying a hand squeezer and doing wrist curls and reverse wrist curls enough? Or is there more to it?

By doing pull exercises such as the deadlift and heavy rows, you are already working on your grip strength. But just like you do isolation exercises for your biceps and triceps, you should also train your forearms and hands in a targeted manner. Your grip strength is the limiting factor in exercises such as the deadlift and loaded carries, such as yoke walks and farmer’s walks. So there is a direct link between your grip strength and performance in these exercises! Besides, what could be more masculine than a strong handshake?


When thinking about forearm training, most people immediately think of doing wrist curls (wrist bending) and reverse wrist curls (reverse wrist bending).

But doing so only works your wrist flexors and extenders, ignoring much of the muscles in your forearm. Starting with your brachioradialis muscle, which helps your biceps bend your elbow and allows you to target with reverse curls (reverse arm bends).

A good way to train both the flexors and extenders in your forearms is to make your own wrist roller. Take a PVC pipe with a diameter of 40 or 50 mm. Drill a hole in it and attach a rope to it. At the other end of the rope you attach a weight, for example a weight plate. Now roll the rope around the tube. Remember to train in both directions by rolling towards and away from you.


One of the easiest ways to start forearm training is to hold the weight for a while after your last set of heavy deadlifts. Or load a barbell with a respectable weight and simply hold it for as long as possible. Even better is to walk with a heavy weight, such as with the farmer’s walk. No farmer’s walk handles in your gym? Then grab the heaviest set of dumbbells or kettlebells you can find. Kettlebells have a thicker handle and are in principle better suited for this.


The thicker the bar, the more challenging it is for your grip. If you do not have the opportunity to train with a so-called fat bar, Fat Gripz are a godsend. Training aids like these make you really have to squeeze to keep a grip, which also trains the muscles of your hands. Try deadlifts with Fat Gripz or use them with your pull or chin-ups.

A strong grip and squeezing the bar as hard as possible is not only important for pull exercises. Also with push exercises such as the bench press and shoulder press (shoulder press) it is important to try to crush the bar, as it were. Think of yourself as one with the barbell; without strong grip, no maximum power transfer.

A popular way to train your grip strength is with hand squeezers, or grippers. Well-known grippers are the Captains of Crush, Heavy Grips and RB Handgrippers. Another good squeeze exercise is clamping two weight plates between your thumb and fingers. Or by lifting and holding a hex dumbbell (hexagonal dumbbell) by the thick end of the floor.


One of the most forgotten wrist movements is radial and ulnar abduction, or deviation, like when you hit with a hammer. A sledgehammer or sledgehammer is an excellent training aid in this regard. You can also load an adjustable dumbbell on one side with weight plates. Again, don’t forget to train in both directions, so as you would ‘normally’ hold a hammer and vice versa.


Finally, you can also rotate the forearm outwards and inwards, i.e. supinate and pronate. The neutral forearm position is when your palms are facing each other. Supination is when you turn your palm up from this position and pronation down. A sledgehammer is also the standard tool for this movement. These days you can buy these in addition to the hardware store, but also at the fitness store.


You see: there may be more to grip training than you might have thought! Grip training should therefore be a standard part of your training routine. Don’t forget to focus on targeted forearm training and hand/squeeze training. As for the number of repetitions: choose a combination of low and high reps and train your pure strength and your strength endurance. After all, both are important in your ‘normal’ training. Only doing high numbers of reps for your grip isn’t going to help you in that 1RM attempt on the deadlift.

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