5 Exercises to Help Increase Grip Strength

  1. Farmer’s Carry- Farmer’s carries require a tremendous amount of grip strength and grip endurance. You can use dumbbells, kettle bells, or even a barbell, with or without weights. The equipment should be gripped firmly at the center or by the handles at your side with your arms fully extended. Think about carrying a briefcase in each hand. The shoulders should be elevated and retracted with the upper back engaged. Set distances to carry the loads to and from. As you improve your grip strength, increase the distance and the number of carries.
  2. Pull-ups- Pull-ups work a number of upper body muscles but it is ultimately a gripping exercise, especially when done in high volume. When you are doing pull-ups, make sure to wrap your thumbs under the bar and the rest of your fingers over the top of the bar. Make sure to squeeze the bar for a good grip. If your grip is going out and you are slipping from the bar, be sure to stop. Do not take yourself to complete failure, where you can slip off of the bar and inure yourself.
  3. Sumo Deadlift High Pulls- Sumo Deadlift high pulls consist of two pulls. There is the sumo deadlift portion, where the athlete’s feet are outside the shoulders and the hands are narrow towards the center of the bar. The bar is then pulled, with straight arms, to a standing position with the hips and knees extended. This portion of the lift is the first pull. The second pull, also known as the high pull, is where the bar is pulled past the collarbone with the elbows positioned high and outside the shoulders. This second pull occurs after the knees and hips are extended in the first pull. An aggressive shoulder shrug leads in to the high pull with the elbows high and outside. Throughout this entire movement, the hands are firmly gripping the bar, and when performing a high number of reps, the grip will be challenged.
  4. American Kettle Bell Swings- American kettle bell swings require the weight to be lifted from in between the legs, in the groin area, directly over head. The handles should be gripped firmly so that the kettle bell does not rotate in your hands, or slip out of your hands. This requires a great amount of grip strength. It will also fatigue the forearms and grip. The athlete should be in control of the kettle bell and maintain a firm group on the swing upward and the pull downward, which returns the kettle bell to the starting position.
  5. Hang cleans and Hang snatches- Both the hang snatch and hang clean require grip strength because the barbell needs to gripped firmly and controlled in the pull and in the holding onto the bar in the hang position. In the hang position, the bar remains above the knees. When doing high volume reps, holding the bar in the hang position can become very taxing on the grip and fatigue the hands and forearms. Training the hang clean and hang snatch will help to improve grip strength.

Read More Barbell Grip Variations


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