There’s a reason grip strength is so important: you require it for almost every activity.
Weak grip strength has been proven to be a predictor of shoulder health. A study published in the sports science journal Shoulder & Elbow concluded a strong correlation between grip strength and lateral rotator strength.
Research has also shown a positive correlation between grip strength and overall health.
What is grip strength, exactly?
Simply put, Improving grip strength is a measure of how much force or power you can create with your forearm and hand muscles.
Having a strong grip is a good indicator of upper body and overall strength because you need to hold onto weights to increase muscle strength.
Did you know:? Thirty-five of the muscles involved in moving the fingers lie in your forearm and hand. During grip work, most muscles used originate between the elbow and the upper portions of the forearm bones (ulna and radius) – scientifically known as the flexor digitorum superficialis, flexor digitorum profound, and the flexor polices longus – and down into the thumb or fingers (phalanges).
Types Of Grip Strength
There are three unique types of strength when it comes to your grip. Here, Simone breaks them down.
Benefits of having a strong grip
Toning those micro muscles is beneficial outside the gym too. Here are five benefits of having a strong grip, according to Ellis.
- It can help prevent tendinitis.
- You’ll curb your chances of getting carpal tunnel syndrome.
- There’s less of a risk you’ll get arthritis.
- You’ll improve your fine motor skills. This will make everyday things—hooking your bra, throwing, or catching a ball—easier.
- You’ll get stronger at the gym because you’ll be able to lift heavier weights.
Below, we have broken down the best exercises to improve your grip strength, from moves you can do in the gym to basic movements you can do using just your body weight with grip strength measurement. We’ve also included a couple of top tips and easy wins to help speed up the process.
How To Improve Grip Strength At Home
You don’t need dumbbells to work your grip strength. Just grab onto these household items to build a stronger handshake in no time as grip strength exercises at home.
Squish a stress ball (a tennis ball works too) with your entire hand for 5 to 10 pulses. Repeat using just thumb and pointer finger. Progress through each finger. Switch hands and repeat sequence.
Grasp an unopened wine bottle or the handle of a cast-iron pan, keeping upper arm by side and elbow bent 90 degrees. Rotate the bottle or pan toward your midline, bring it back to the center, then rotate in the opposite direction. Do two or three sets of 20 to 30 reps. Switch hands and repeat.
I am using two books of the same size (preferably coffee-table books or textbooks), grip one in each hand, arms at sides. Squeeze with fingers for 30 seconds, then relax for 30 seconds. Do three to five sets.
The Best Exercises To Improve Grip Strength At The Gym
Holding a heavy kettlebell in one hand, arms down by sides, walk forward in a straight line without letting the weight bang against the side of your leg. Continue for 30 to 60 seconds. Rest for 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat. Do three to five sets.
Hold a weight with the left hand, feet shoulder-width apart, and right hand clenched in a fist. Keeping abs engaged and knees soft, sit hips back to slowly lower weight until it reaches the middle of the left shin. The back should be parallel to the floor to improve grip strength. Pressing through heels and engaging abs, quickly return to start. Squeeze glutes once completely upright. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps.
Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells at sides. Palms should be facing inward, with the back straight and chest upright. Without moving upper arms, bend elbows and curl weights toward shoulders. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to starting position with control. That’s one rep. Do three to four sets of 12 reps.
Pulling your body up to a parallel bar requires serious strength and solid grip. Next time you’ve completed a set of pull-ups, take a look at your forearms – they’ll be pumped.
Once you’ve mastered this bodyweight staple, make it harder and significantly more grip effective by using either pull-up grips or simply throwing a couple of towels over the bar.
Dead hangs are a great way to build grip strength. As the name suggests, all you have to do is hang from an overhead bar with your arms outstretched and your body in a hollow position. New to the hand? Begin by gripping the bar for 20 to 30 seconds to improve grip strength.
Quick Training Tips to grip strength exercises
A wider bar means you’ll have to grip harder, increasing the tension in your forearms – you can get them here!
- Fingers back, palms on the desk: Stretch by leaning back and forth on your bodyweight and gently side to side. Go for 15 seconds.
- Fingers back, palms of the desk: Lifting your palms emphasizes your fingers more. Go for 15 seconds.
- While seated, place your hands on your things with palms up. Close your fists and, with your forearms touching your legs, raise your fists off your body, bending at the wrist. Hold for 10 seconds.
- Grab a tennis ball or a smaller squash ball and squeeze tightly for 15seconds at a time.
How Do I Test for Grip Strength?
You’ll need a handgrip dynamometer, which will measure the maximum isometric strength of the hand and forearm muscles. To get an accurate reading, you should perform three squeezes on both hands.
These are the average scores of each hand. Remember, this is not a measure of general strength:
Excellent: >141lbs (>64kg)
Very good: 123-141lbs (56-64kg)
Above-average: 114-122lbs (52-55kg)
Average: 105-113lbs (48-51kg)
Below average: 96-104lbs
Below average: 96-104lbs (44-47kg)
Poor: 88-95lbs (40-43kg)
Very poor: <88lbs (<40kg)
Thankfully, improving grip strength is something you can work on almost instantly and see improvements quickly.