180716 Developing your grip

180716 Developing your grip

The deadlift can add or subtract to your total in the sport of powerlifting. Pulling a ton with straps on means your lower torso is solid and strong. The problem arises when you get into a contest and can’t use your straps.  It doesn’t matter what you did in your gym with the straps because they aren’t allowed in any sanctioned event.

Now is the time to get a grip that will bring Hercules to his knees. And one of the easiest most opportune ways to do so is by using Olympic weight plates. Set two of them up side to side, facing one another, so the smooth part is on the outside, i.e. the part of the weight you are going to hold onto.

Without using chalk or other grip enhancing substance, grab the plates and start walking in your gym. Measure the distance you are able to go before the weights slip out of your hands.

Do the exercise one to three times and then let it set for a day or so and then do it again. In time your distance will increase as will your ability to handle heavier weights for longer distances.

Just be careful you don’t let them fall on your feet or worse yet someone else’s.

Isometric contractions for 5-6 seconds in various flexion angles building up the intensity over the session, i.e. one at 70% for 5 seconds the next series at 80% for 5 seconds. Work up to 100% for the full 6 seconds for three to four sets at a time. Then build up in the length of time holding at 100%-avoid the Valsalva maneuver during

Many can be done at home, as the required equipment is nil.

 Grip strengthening exercises.

The accompanying photographs show a great device for developing your grip. Each piece fits into the next larger one. The diameter of the handle can be made greater or smaller depending upon the level of difficulty desired. Naturally, the smaller the handle the easier will be the task of holding onto the resistance. Once the handle becomes over three inches, the ability to grip and lift becomes problematic. Slowly adapt your strength with each successively larger diameter handle.

The grip is progressively challenged as the diameter of the PVC becomes larger.

Not only are these handles useful for simple lifting exercises but they can also be adapted to the pulley, band or elastic modes of resistance training as depicted in figures three through seven. In addition, the larger sized handles make chin up and pull up exercises much more difficult to accomplish. The latter are not shown.


Here are few more ideas to try if you do not want to use the larger handles:

  • Start with one full newspaper and crunch it up into a ball with one hand.
  • Progress to more and more sheets of newspaper and make each of the increased layers into the smallest ball possible.

Rubber ball squeezes

  • Begin with a small dog or cat toy ball
  • Squeeze the ball for twenty five repetitions three times
  • Use a tennis ball for the same progression as above

Rubber band stretches and squeezes

  • Place rubber bands on each of your fingers, spread the fingers apart.
  • Place the bands on one opposite hand.
  • Attach one end to a finger of the opposite hand and move the fingers in the opposite direction as above

Other useful ideas for grip training

  • Bar hangs for time
  • Weight added bar hangs
  • Bar holds with ‘heavy weight’ be careful of low back injuries
  • Paper book rips
  • Towel twists
  • Medicine ball squeezes
  • Pellet bag holds for time or distance
  • Pellet bag holds while vertical jumping and maintaining the grip
  • Cement block hold and carry for distance
  • Garbage bags with weight-hold for time and distance
  • Plate hold for time
  • Plate hold with heavier weight for time
  • Plate hold with heavy weight
  • Band resisted device holds
  • Grip developer springs from Ironmind
  • Plate loaded grip device

Radial and Ulnar deviations

Equipment: Thors hammer

The Thors hammer is an adjustable dumb bell with plates added to one end only. Sledge hammers can be used in place of the dumb bell but minor adjustments of weight are easier if the dumb bell is used.

Begin holding the bar near the weight until you build up the strength to use the lever of the full handle.

Hold the non-plated loaded end as you would a hammer or in a handshake or neutral grip position at the sides of your legs.

Thors hammer front off load

The dumb bell plates will be facing forward with the bar horizontal to the ground. The motion is up and down using only wrist action.

The next movement is with the plates to the rear, again the motion is up and down.

Thors hammer start rear load

Begin the development of your grip by working on your endurance first then go to a strength-based program that employs heavy weights coupled with low reps.

Practice Isometric contractions for 5-6 seconds in various flexion angles. Gradually build up the intensity over the session, i.e. one set at 70% for 5 seconds the next series at 80% for 5 seconds. Work up to 100% intensity a full 6 seconds for three to four sets at a time. Build up in the length of time you are holding at 100% but avoid the Valsalva maneuver during these contractions.

Augment direct grip development by strengthening each motion or movement pattern of the wrist. Additionally work the fingers/thumb individually and as a group. Practice balance, coordination and agility as you work these smaller muscles of the arm and hand. Theraband soft weights work great for many of these exercises.