Specific Grip Strength Training Hints

Your grip on pullups and toes to bar limits your reps. You have done classic grip strengthening with your Captains of Crush Gripper. You have tried everything they say but your improvement in your grip strength isn’t translating to the same kind of results on the bar…why?

Or maybe your grip on the bar fades despite lots of farmers carries…why is that?

Or maybe your wrist gets tighter if you keep your grip training up, and that affects your front rack position.

Here are some hints:

1. Did you practice closing that gripper with your arm straight above your head? I bet you did what so many people do…bent arm, looking at the gripper or straight arm down by your side. But your muscles that affect your grip also get tension from the shoulder and upper arm muscles. So unless you develop your closing grip with your arm straight overhead, your practice won’t be as effective.

2. Your wrist is strong when it has a curve in the palm…and that is good. But that is like saying your squat is strongest if you don’t go below parallel – we train through the whole range-of-motion to make ALL of it strong. So you actually have to train your palms to flatten out and open up. For some, this might need help in the form of a physio that understands hands to help mobilise the joints. Focus on training your palm to open up.

3. Most self-defence techniques teach that if someone is holding an object in their hand, you can usually get it out of their hand by flexing their wrist (making the palm go towards the forearm). That is because, in most people, they haven’t trained their finger and wrist extensors to be long enough – try it – hold something in your palm and then flex your wrist as far as it will go – your hand will probably open up. Good grip strength requires strength through greater ranges of motion.

4. The converse is also true. Most CrossFitters I know can’t hold a front rack with a full grip on the bar. That is because their wrist flexors are too short leading to the muscles needing to powerdown so the extra length is there. Train your grip to stay on the bar by practicing in a rack with a loaded barbell. Then, keeping a full grip, or even a hook grip, try to get as best a front rack as possible remembering to keep your ribs down and your spine straight…a little bit of practice over time will help!

5. How is your finger and wrist extensor strength? I bet you don’t work them nearly as much as you do your wrist flexors. That is kinda of like saying “let’s just do bicep curls and forget the triceps”…and then we wonder why people get “tennis elbow”/lateral elbow pain. There are lots of cheap grip opening/strengthening tools out there…and even cheap ones like holding a jar with only your fingers inside.

6. Remember that your grip relies on tension that is developed from your elbow, shoulder, neck and ribs. If you are having trouble with your grip, maybe you need to take care of business in those areas.

That’s all for now. I hope to do more grip strengthening videos in the future.

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About Antony Lo
Antony Lo is an APA Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist based in Sydney. His website is www.MyPhysios.com.au. He specializes in the management, treatment and prevention of pain and dysfunction, particularly of the pelvis and ribcage. His sub-specialties include Crossfit and Exercise Performance Optimization, Ante-Natal and Post-Natal Care and difficult cases that have failed treatment elsewhere.

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