Some of the most frequent phrases I hear in the gym revolve around grip strength:
- “I could do more weight, but my forearms gave out first.”/li>
- “My fingers let go before I could do another rep.”
- “I feel this more in my forearms than my bicep.”
The truth is, your grip is an important indicator of your overall health, and according to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, it directly correlates with your upper body strength. Studies have also found that the stronger the grip is, the lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. There is a definite link between heart health and muscle strength.
Whether you’re an elite athlete, American Ninja Warrior, or an elderly person opening a jar, grip strength is a pivotal piece of the health puzzle that needs your attention! Neglecting this muscle group over time can lead to chronic repetitive-motion injuries. The good news is that simple mobility, stretching, and strengthening exercises can help prevent these injuries as well as greatly propel your overall strength.
Many major league pitchers will open and close a fist in a bucket of rice. This is a great exercise as it requires the hand and forearm to extend and flex the fingers to condition grip strength. You can also rotate your open hand back and forth in the rice bucket to strengthen a whole different set of forearm muscles. “Farmer Carries” are another move I love to implement with my clients to improve grip strength. Pick up two dumbbells and walk for an extended period of time or distance until you feel the palm and forearm burn. A couple sets of this exercise before a workout are great to not only fire up the grip muscles, but almost every other muscle group in the body, as well. And finally, when all else fails, hang out! Literally. Hanging from a pullup bar as long as possible has similar effects as the rice bucket and farmer’s carry, but is more challenging than you might think!
Do not underestimate the importance of grip strength, and start working it now. You will not regret it!