We all want to improve our overall fitness and do things that will make us better at our individual sport. At least that’s the plan, right? And for many of us, weight training should be an essential part of that plan. Lifting heavy things forces our bodies to change by increasing strength and allowing us to perform various tasks with ease. But as I have found in my experience of training and as many of you have probably observed or even experienced, one problem that may occur is grip strength or more specifically the lack thereof.
Basically if you can’t hold a heavy bar in your hands, how are you going to lift it? This can become a problem if you are training to increase overall strength. So, what can you do?
One option is to use wrist straps. Wrist straps conveniently attach your hands to the bar, taking the burden off of your grip strength to do all the work. This allows you to manage more weight. But while this is a great tool and it can most certainly help you achieve your goals, I have seen many who use wrist straps as a sort of a “short cut” in their training and not in a good way.
For example, I have seen individuals use wrist straps during every set of their workout. If your max deadlift is over 500 hundred pounds and you are warming up with 135, you don’t need to be wearing your wrist straps. In fact, I would argue that you shouldn’t be using wrist straps at all during deadlifts if your goal is to increase your deadlift max.
Instead of cutting yourself short, I would recommend taking the more rewarding, yet more challenging route. Actually strengthening your grip strength. Yes, it will take time and dedication but if you want to hang on to the bar, it is worth it. So, here are some methods you can try and some tools that are awesome for developing solid grip strength.
Rope climbing is an excellent exercise for developing grip strength. Just take a trip or two up a long rope and you will know what I’m talking about. For many individuals, just one time up a rope will give their forearms that nice burning sensation. Try throwing in some sets of rope climbing in after your workouts for an intense forearm building experience.
If you do not have access to a rope, you can modify this exercise by using a towel and a pull up bar. Simply twist the towel up nice and tight so that it resembles a rope and hang it over the bar. Doing pull-ups while holding each end of the towel in your hands replicates the feeling of climbing a rope.
For this exercise, grab two plates at the gym and pinch them together. Try holding the plates together for as long as you can. The weight you use will depend on your grip strength, so if ten-pound plates is challenging for you then that is what you will use. If you need forty-five pound plates to give you a challenge, not only are you a beast but also that is the weight you should use.
For plate flips, you are going to grab just one plate at your gym. A plate flip is done by holding the plate at one end with the weight hanging down and then using your wrist to flip the weight. When the other end of the weight comes around, you grab it and repeat. It can be kind of tricky and like the plate holds, you should use a weight that challenges you.
Fat Bars or Grips
This is one that I should be incorporating more often into my own training.Fat Gripz are wide grips that simply attach to your standard barbell, forcing you to use more grip strength during lifts. While you probably wont be able to lift as much because of the awkwardness gripping a bigger bar, they are a great way to develop grip strength. Another option is to use a fat bar, such as the
Rogue Axle Bar, which is basically a barbell that is fatter than usual.
Of course, one way to develop grip strength is by simply lifting heavy weights. Actually, the lift that has helped me develop my grip strength then most is where most people struggle the most with grip strength, the deadlift. Just set the lifting straps aside, latch onto that bar with all you’ve got, and pull hard. Basically, you should be developing grip strength every time you pick up a weight.
So if you struggle with grip strength or you just want to improve your already strong grip, give these tips a try. Besides when it comes to training, do you think you can ever have too much grip strength? Just think of all the benefits it offers you. Think of all the extra pounds you could put on the bar. Sounds pretty good, right? Now, get out there and strengthen that grip!