Grip strength is something that is very overlooked in the sport of powerlifting, and even in strongman at times. Too many times I’ve seen a lifter at a meet drop a bar on the deadlift due to grip. It’s extremely painful to watch. This has happened to me once when going for a big PR, and it’s something I will make sure doesn’t happen again. Luckily, increasing your grip strength is very simple, and you can add it into your training without taking up much time.
In powerlifting, we immediately think of the deadlift when it comes to grip, but a stronger grip can help the other lifts as well. Your grip starts a chain reaction, so when you start your setup for the squat, the first thing you do is grip the bar. The harder you can squeeze the bar, the tighter your entire setup is going to be. The bench is no different here; as soon as you unrack the bar, death grip it and you will feel tightness from your hands to your lats.
Grip is even more important when it comes to strongman, but not just for the obvious events like farmer’s walks or the frame carry. Flipping a tire is one of the most grip-taxing events I’ve done, and not being prepared can cause failure on other events. Although you can use straps on deadlifts for the most part in strongman, there have many times my grip has been tired from deadlifting with an axle (fat bar). Even with straps, you have to squeeze the bar to keep everything else tight. With that being said, here are five exercises you can add to your training that will increase your grip strength.
Adding Fat Gripz to Rowing Exercises
Your training should always consist of a lot of rowing exercises to maintain healthy shoulders, especially with the amount of pressing we do in these sports. The easiest way to build your grip is to work it into your normal training. Simply add a pair of Fat Gripz to any rowing exercise and a normal bar will feel like a twig in your hands. My favorite to use them on recently has been the seated iso row, as you can see in the video.
You will have to bring your weight down initially, but as your grip will improve you can go back up.
The gripper is perfect right at the end of a deadlift workout or really whenever you have time to fit it in. I like to keep the reps high of at least 10, holding the top for a second. Three sets is a good number here.
Hex Grip Holds
The only thing you need here is a pair of hex grip dumbbells. Just make sure you don’t cheat and grab where the numbers are. I like to do these with a pair of 35s, but the size of your hands can restrict here, at least at first. Start with a weight you can hold for at least 30 seconds, and again do three sets for as long as you can.
I recently purchased a rickshaw and can’t recommend it more. It has three grips to use: one normal you can use to train a frame carry with, a two-inch thick grip, and a two-and-a-half-inch thick grip. I have recently had some grip issues coming from biceps repair surgery, and doing carries with the rickshaw has helped tremendously. For this one keep the weight lower and train for longer distances. I’ve been using the two-and-a-half inch grips and doing 100 feet with a turn at 50 feet for three sets.
I use the grenades for a lot of exercises in my accessory work, as I demonstrated in my previous arm article. Using the grenades for pull-ups is by far the most difficult use for them, but I like to rotate different implements for pull-ups to keep my elbows healthy. An example of this would be that doing chin-ups constantly, while easier than pull-ups, can cause some elbow problem from being forced into supination. The bulk of my pull-ups are done neutral grip on a monkey bar, but adding in a set at the end on the grenades, or even the dual pull-up ropes, is another easy way to increase your grip without taking up any more time.