Grip training basically refers to lifts that train the fingers, wrist and hand to grow larger and stronger. It’s a little unusual and people seem to like asking me why I would bother training my grip. Here are my thoughts on why grip training is valuable.
Grip strength is very effective at increasing the strength of the tissues involved in grip both connective and muscular. Muscles and tendons build up their connective tissue as the muscle increases in strength and really important tissues like ligaments respond by getting denser and stronger. The skin on the fingers and palm also get thicker and tougher and if you do crazy shit like tear decks of cards in half and bend steel spikes you get monstrous calluses all over your hands. Because grip training strengthens your hand tissues so much it’s also great for rehabilitating wrist injuries. Which is exactly why I started including grip exercises when I lift. Many people have relatively weak hands and wrists compared to the rest of their body in part because the grip is just not challenged using small diameter barbells and dumbbells and grip strength simply gets left behind. I fit the bill pretty closely and as a result got bad sprains in both of my wrists when I started kickboxing. I used grip exercises like the plate pinch dead lift, plate curls, sledgehammer levers and thick bar lifts and within a few weeks I could see a difference in how often and severe pain occurred. By the way I am not a doctor and I’m not qualified to guarantee shit, but this is what I did, you decide if it’s bullshit. Right, moving on from my story of triumph, grip training is also obviously beneficial in sports where you use your hands in any way, which is a lot of them. It’s also entertaining and surprisingly addictive, it will turn your hands will turn into a pair of vice-grips and studies have shown that grip strength is a strong indicator of a persons well-being, huh, whooda thought it? And fuck, if all else fails at least you’ll have a pair of gorilla looking forearms.
But wait, wait, wait put down the god damn hand gripper there’s more to grip training than that! Yes I’m talking about integrative grip training. It’s like this, if you’re gonna spend a bunch of time getting stronger hands and wrists you might as well train the rest of your body at the same time. This is easier than you might think and I will explain, but first: There are literally dozens of different ways to train the grip but the lifts I mostly concern myself with are fat-bar lifts, plate pinch lifts, plate curls, sledgehammer levering and hand gripper work.
Fat-bar lifts: This is bread and butter grip training along with plate pinch lifts. Standard barbell handles are simply too thin to stress the grip unless your lifting some seriously heavy shit. Common fat-bar handle diameters are anywhere from 2″ to 3″. If you can hook your hands on anything larger than a 3″ then you have some big fucken hands. Fat-bar handles stress the finger and wrist flexors and to a lesser degree the thumb flexors. Fat-bar handles are also easy to incorporate into your training if you don’t mind the looks of people wondering “what the…” http://www.fatgripz.com sells a 2.25″ handle that fits on almost anything and its 35 dollars. I ,however, use 2″ and 2.5″ ABS pipes that fit over my dumbbells and barbells and this works for me. I like to do dead lifts, rows, chin-ups and cleans with a fat bar and like to alternate using dumbbells and barbells, one arm or both.
Plate Pinch Lifts: I consider a plate pinch to be any grip movement that uses the thumb and fingers to grip an implement with parallel sides with vary thickness. Plate pinches can be as narrow as sheet steel or as wide as your hand will handle. Plate pinches work the thumb flexors, finger flexors and wrist extensors due to how it is lifted and held in the air. I like to do dead lifts and rows with one arm or both when I do plate pinches. My apparatus looks a lot like the one below.
Plate Curls: Plate curls are done by gripping the end of a smooth plate and curling it to your chin. 25, 35 and 45 pound plates are milestones but differ enormously in difficulty and a clamp is necessary to to attach smaller weights and bridge the gap. Plate curls stress the thumb, finger and wrist flexors and put significant stress on the connective tissues of the wrist, resulting in tough wrists, or injuries if you don’t train smart. I believe that a 25 pound plate is about average or maybe a bit above. 45 pound plate curls are very rare.
Sledgehammer Levering: Heavy sledgehammer levers are quite impressive. The most common lift is probably the overhead lever but there are many others which train all forms of wrist movement in different ways. This is a really good site that covers different hammer levers in detail. http://www.sherdog.net/forums/f13/lever-shot-smashys-illustrated-guide-levering-813568/
Hand Grippers: This is the form of grip training that most people will be familiar with. Hand grippers come in differing sizes, strength and handle knurling. Ironmind is a popular brand that is well known for its grippers. Grippers are pretty cool and training with them will likely result in a gnarly handshake but it is my opinion that they don’t transfer strength to other grip exercises particularly well. Most people do not make good progress with grippers because they do not know how to set them. Most grippers need to be set to a smaller handle spread to accommodate a persons hand size. A common set is the parallel set and I know that ironmind requires a credit card set to be certified. This site covers this topic very well so I will direct you there for detailed information that I am not qualified give. http://www.gripfaq.com/Hand_Grippers/
While I am on the topic, I own this hand gripper and I think that it is pretty fucking awesome. It’s also adjustable which could save money. The Vulcan Hand Gripper
Well that’s all I got for now so if somehow people actually come across this page I hope that I have created an interest in this sick sport.