Grip Strength...What is it?
We’ve all been there...you get home from the grocery store with all of your food to meal prep for the week... your apartment is on the 4th level of your complex and the elevator is broken. “I’m only doing one trip” your ambitious mind tells you. That one trip has turned into setting your bags down every floor, inevitably cracking an egg or bruising a banana, as your forearms feel like there's a fire burning inside and you shake your hands out to give it another go. Your ability to make it in one trip and PR your grocery visit could use some help! Let’s talk about grip strength!
Grip Strength...Why it’s Important.
On a functional level...
We aren’t getting any younger, but we can sure as heck try. There are plenty of bio-markers that note an individual’s ability to remain mobile and independent, two things we should all hope and prepare for to excel at later in life, one of these bio-markers is grip strength.
A 2019 medical article written by Richard Bohannon, a physical therapist, researcher, and professor states that,” [grip strength] does distinguish between older adults on the basis of their mobility. [He] noted significantly lower grip strengths among older Americans who reported physical limitations- including standing from a chair, walking, climbing steps, and going out.”(Bohannon, 2019).
Among these groups that were tested, it was found that those individuals with higher grip strength remained more mobile and more independent, longer. Time and time again, we see the benefits on our long term health and wellness when we train functional fitness in a safe and well administered way.
On a functional fitness level…
The benefits of increased grip strength in functional fitness and training are endless! There is a direct correlation between grip strength and overall strength...those who can hold the heavier loads longer...get stronger. In the words of a very strong man, Mark “Smelly” Bell, “Strength is never a weakness”.
Improving grip strength will do wonders for increasing your fitness markers such as your; Deadlift, Pull-Up capacity, Olympic Lifts, etc. The list goes on and on and can be applied in 100 different ways from 1-Rep Maxes to cycling a barbell to gymnastics.
Grip Strength… How to Build It.
Now that we have seen all of the benefits of grip strength, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty of improving it. As with any strength training, it’s not exactly rocket science, to lift heavy weights you must start lifting heavier weights to begin your body’s natural adaptations. All of these examples can be applied to workouts or applied as a Finisher after your training session without affecting your performance the following day.
Repeated, extended times holding on to objects such as heavy DBs, KBs, or barbells. 3 Sets of 1:00 Hold as heavy as you can keep in your hands the entire minute. Add this 1x a week as a finisher for your workouts!
Picking up and even holding odd objects like Sandbags, D-Balls, heavy Slam Balls. Heck, you can even do this at home with bags of fertilizer or buckets loaded up with rocks.
The longer you can hold on during a workout to anything, the stronger your grip will get. Hold on for a few extra Pull-Ups in that next AMRAP, hang on to the Deadlift bar for a bit longer when you’re trying to PR Diane. This extended time under tension will get those Popeye forearms in no time
Matt is a NCFIT Trainer who specializing in weightlifting and strength training. You can find him in the gym or helping film our Coach and Athlete videos.