Enhancing your grip and wrist strength is something that often gets overlooked when exercising. Many people think that working on triceps and biceps will in turn automatically strengthen forearms, hands and wrists, but grip is important and deserves a little more direct attention than that.
Who Benefits from a Stronger Grip?
- Anyone who does Strength Training: Strengthening forearms, hands, and wrists will make lifting easier, allow you to have more control and therefore prevent injury, do more reps, and train longer/have more endurance.
Strength Training Exercises that benefit from stronger grip are: Bench Presses, Jerks, Kettlebell Swings, Deadlifts, Muscle-ups, Cleans, Curls, Rows, and Pull-ups.
- Sports players: Sports that require one to throw, or swing a bat or club such as Basketball, Baseball, Football, Tennis, Rugby, and Golf can also benefit from grip training.
Other sports that need a strong grip and wrists are: Martial Arts, Volley Ball, Wrestling, Boxing, Rock Climbing, Yoga, Gymnastics, and Water Skiing.
- Musicians: Grip strength, hand strength, and strong wrists are essential when playing instruments such as guitar, piano, violin, and drums.
- Everyone Really: Wrist and hand strength help with everyday activities like opening doors, jars, typing, and carrying groceries.
We all really do benefit from having a strong grip and wrists!
Other Benefits of Grip & Wrist Training Are:
A More Complete Look – Bodybuilders will benefit from working on their grip strength because many have trouble achieving a balanced arm-look (i.e. having huge upper arms and small forearms). Hand muscles actually continue up into the arm, so working on your hands will help build the forearm.
Hyper Irradiation – Hyper Irradiation or Radiant Tension is when tensing one group of muscles increases the intensity of other contractions in the body. For example, when doing a squat with your Human Trainer Suspension Gym you should apply tension to the handles by squeezing them before descending, and continue squeezing throughout each rep. By doing so, your whole body will engage and stay strong, allowing you to do potentially do more reps.
Hence, having a stronger grip = allows you to squeeze more = resulting in more upper body stability = more endurance.
Reduced Risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome- One of the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome is wrist weakness. Carpal Tunnel is when the tendonsget inflamed in areas of the wrist and forearm and press into a nerve causing numbness and pain throughout the arm. Most of us spend more time doing activities that require the wrists to be flexed (bent back) then bent forward. This will cause the extensor muscles to overstretch over time, and the flexor muscles to become tight and weak from lack of use. Exercising these muscles will prevent this and will therefore reduce the risk of carpal tunnel.
How to Strengthen Your...
Wrists – One must understand that there is virtually no muscle in the wrist, so to strengthen the wrists one must stabilize the joint by strengthening the surrounding muscles of the hand and forearm.
Hands – Hand muscles actually begin above the elbow. Therefore, in order to improve grip and hand strength one must include forearm and upper arm exercises.
There are 2 Different Grip Strength Types:
Crushing Strength: This one is pretty obvious. It’s how strong you can squeeze something with your entire hand. A good example of this would be crushing a beer can.
Pinching Strength: Pinching Strength is when you squeeze something with just your finger tips and thumb. Working your pinching strength will build up and strengthen your forearm muscles, fingers and thumbs.
Grip and Wrist Training should be part of your regular workout routine and should be done once or twice a week. Remember that just like with any other muscle you can overtrain your grip — Start Slow. Start with 8-10 reps of 1 set per exercise, and work your way up to 3 sets. Stop if you feel pain.
Here are some exercises for you to try:
Tennis Ball Squeeze – Hold a tennis ball in one hand and squeeze as hard as you can for about 5 seconds. Then relax the hand for a couple of seconds, and repeat. Do 3 sets with each hand.
Finger Extensions – This exercise is great for building grip endurance and wrist strength. Place a rubber band around all your fingers and thumb on one hand. Open your fingers up as wide as you can, pushing against the band. Relax, then repeat. NOTE: The closer the rubber band is to your finger tips, the harder the exercise will be.
Wrist Curls – Perform wrist curls to build forearm strength.This can be done with either a bar or dumbbells (3-5 LBS). Sit on a bench or chair and bend forward so that you can rest your forearms on your upper thighs. Holding the bar or dumbbells, hang your hands off the front of your knees, palms facing up. Relax your wrists so they drop back as far as possible, fingertips towards the floor. Then raise the bar back up towards you while keeping your forearms down on your thighs. Hold for a second and return the bar back down towards the floor to complete one repetition.
Wrist Rotations – Perform this with dumbbells. Get in the same position as with the Wrist Curls, holding the dumbbells with your palms face up. Make sure your knees are hip distance apart, feet planted firmly on the floor. Keeping your forearms on your thighs, rotate the dumbbells inward until your palms are facing down. Then, rotate the dumbbells outward until your palms are facing up again. You can do this one hand at a time if it feels more comfortable. Repeat.
Wrist Roll Ups – Perform this exercise using a stick (like a broomstick) and a rope. Tie one end of the rope at the center of the stick and the other end to a dumbbell (3-5 LBS). Hold the stick with both hands as close to the ends as possible, palms facing down. Roll the rope up until the dumbbell reaches the stick, then roll it back down. Repeat 3 times.
Basketball Dribble – To build wrist strength sit in a chair and bounce a basketball on the floor beside you, flexing your wrist up and down to quickly dribble the ball. Switch hands when tired.
Hammer Hits – For this exercise, hold a dumbbell (3 LBS) vertically in your hand, with your arm straight out in front of you (elbow slightly bent), like you would a hammer. Rock your hand up and down like you would if you were hammering something. This exercise is great for building forearm and grip strength.
Towel Hangs – For this exercise, simply wrap a towel over a bar, hold onto the towel ends and hang from a bar a for count of 10-15 seconds.
Plate Pinching – Grab two wide-rimmed weight plates and hold them together by using all four fingers to grip the outside part of the plate and your thumb on the other side.
Squeeze the plates together and attempt to lift them off the floor, using your legs to lift and keeping the back straight. Switch arms and repeat. *Warning: To avoid dropping the plates do not do this exercise to exhaustion. If you feel like the weight may slip out of your hand slowly bend your knees while keeping your back straight and put the plates down gently.
Hand Gripper – Hand grippers are great tools to build your crushing strength. Make sure to get a good quality one from a fitness equipement supplier.
Don’t forget about this key area of the body. We use our hands EVERY DAY for practically everything. Dedicating time to building strength in the hands, wrists, and forearms can save you from injuries and pain, and can help take your workout to the next level.
Resources: health.ninemsn.com.au, Bodybuilding.com, livestrong.com, wrustexercises.blogspot.com, yogatuneup.com, megliofitness.com, LA Times, selfgrowth.com