Grip Strength Exercises – Introduction
What are the best grip strength exercises you can do at home or in the gym?
Fitness experts love sayings and expressions.
Often-heard examples include “you can’t out-train a bad diet,” “no pain, no gain,” and “six-pack abs are made in the kitchen.”
These little idioms are usually pretty close to the truth and often reveal training and nutrition secrets that are sometimes forgotten.
Abs really are made in the kitchen!
Another popular saying is, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”
This term can be used for sports teams, companies, and the human body.
In exercise, the “weak link” is often the core, which is the collective name for the muscles of your midsection.
For example, even if you have strong arms and legs, your squat and deadlift performance can be limited by a weak core.
The same is true for push-ups and bent-over rows.
But this article isn’t about your core.
Instead, we’re talking about the muscles in your hands and forearms that control your grip.
For a lot of people, the grip is their anatomical weak link.
We reveal the benefits of a stronger grip, the best exercises for increasing it, and provide you with a short but effective grip workout to try.
The Benefits of Training Your Grip
Not convinced that your grip is worth training?
Consider these benefits and then decide!
Most exercises in your workouts involve holding onto a bar or handle.
That includes upper body pushing and pulling movements, as well as most free-weight leg exercises.
If your grip is weak, your hands may fail before you’ve fatigued the muscles you are training.
Yes, you COULD wear wrist straps and wraps to bolster your grip and wrists, but this will probably make your hands weaker rather than stronger, as you’ll become reliant on using them.
More muscular forearms
While most people train their biceps and triceps, far fewer exercisers spend as much time on their forearms.
That’s a shame because the forearms are often more likely to be seen, probably more often than the upper arms.
After all, they are calves of the upper body!
Believe it or not, grip strength is a reliable indicator of longevity, health, and functional fitness.¹
The assumption is that if your grip is strong, so too is the rest of your body.
Studies suggest that people with a strong grip live longer than those with weaker hands and forearms.
While isolated grip training probably won’t do much for your long-term health, building your forearms along with the rest of your body, such as by deadlifting, will have a significant impact on length and quality of life.
Beyond being a fantastic exercise for building a stronger grip, see the 37 Remarkable Benefits of Deadlifts to Unleash Your Fitness Fast.
Make many everyday activities easier
Strong hands make many everyday activities easier, from opening jars to carrying grocery bags to hammering in nails and loosening screws and bolts.
Having a powerful grip means never having to ask for help when you want to open a jar of peanut butter!
The 7 Best Grip Strength Exercises
Looking to build your grip strength?
Here are seven of the best grip and forearm exercises!
- Farmer’s carries
- Deadlift holds
- Dead hangs
- Towel-grip pull-ups
- Barbell reverse curls
- Plate pinches
- Hand grippers
Exercises for Grip Strength – Descriptions
#1. Farmer’s walk
There aren’t many grip exercises that are more effective than the farmer’s walk.
This full-body strength and conditioning exercise will push your forearms and grip to their limit!
How to do it:
- Place two dumbbells or kettlebells on the floor and stand between them.
- Squat down and grip the handles with an inward-facing grip.
- With your arms straight and core braced, stand up straight.
- Squeeze the handles as tight as you can.
- Walk around your training area until you feel your grip starting to weaken.
- Put the weights back on the floor, rest for a moment, and repeat.
- You can also do this exercise one arm at a time to increase lateral core engagement.
For more information on this excellent full-body exercise – see Farmer Carries Muscles Worked, Benefits, How-To + Workout Guide.
Do this exercise every day to build muscle, strength, and grip!
#2. Deadlift hold
A big deadlift requires a strong grip.
This deadlift-specific exercise will ensure your hands will never limit your deadlift performance.
How to do it:
- Place a heavily loaded barbell in a squat or power rack at about mid-thigh height.
- Stand just behind the bar and hold it using an overhand shoulder-width grip.
- Keeping your arms straight, lift the bar off the rack and then hold it for as long as possible.
- Keep your lower back slightly arched, core braced, and shoulders down and back throughout.
- No rack? No problem!
- You can also do this exercise from the floor.
How to do the deadlift hold
#3. Dead hang
Grip exercises don’t come much simpler than the dead hang.
However, while this is a straightforward forearm and grip builder, it’s also very effective.
How to do it:
- Grip an overhead bar such as a pullup bar or Power Tower with an overhand, shoulder-width grip.
- Pull your shoulders down and back, and brace your core.
- Hang from the bar with your feet off the floor.
- Hold on for as long as you can.
- See – we told you it was simple!
The Amazing Benefits of Dead Hang
#4. Towel-grip pull-up
How to do it:
- Fold two towels over your pull-up bar.
- Make sure the ends are even.
- Hold the ends together and squeeze them tight.
- Hang from the towels and do your pull-ups as normal, although you will probably find that you cannot do as many reps as usual.
- Can’t do pull-ups?
- No worries; just do towel grip dead hangs instead.
Rapidly build Ninja grip strength with only a towel
#5. Barbell reverse curl
The barbell reverse curl is an excellent forearm, biceps, and grip exercise.
It may also improve your pull-up performance as it hits all the muscles that tend to fail and bring your pull-up set to an early end.
How to do it:
- Hold a barbell with an overhand shoulder-width grip.
- Place your thumbs on top of the bar so you are holding it with your fingers only.
- Bend your arms and curl the bar up to your shoulders, pausing for 1-2 seconds.
- Lower the weight, extend your arms, and repeat.
- Make this exercise even more effective by using a thick bar or clip-on fat bar handles.
#6. Plate pinch
The plate pinch is a challenging exercise for your fingers, hands, and forearms.
Unlike most other grip exercises, this one is performed with straight fingers.
How to do it:
- Place two weight plates back to back and stand them upright on a bench or table.
- Squeeze them together with your thumb on one side and your four fingers on the other.
- Gripping as hard as you can, lift and hold the weights for as long as possible.
- Put the weights down, swap hands, and repeat.
- You can also do this exercise on the move, i.e., a plate pinch farmer’s walk.
#7. Hand grippers
The great thing about hand grippers is you can use them anywhere and anytime, even when you are chilling at home in front of the TV.
Buy yourself a set of heavyweight hand grippers and work on your grip strength whenever you’ve got a few minutes to spare.
Note that hand grippers tend to lose their strength over time, so you’ll need to upgrade your purchase from time to time, especially as your hands get stronger.
How to do it:
- Grip the handles so your thumb is on one side and your fingers are on the other.
- Squeeze the handles together.
- Perform for reps, e.g., 12-15, or hold for time, e.g., 20-30 seconds.
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Grip Strength Workout
While you could build a stronger grip just by doing a few of these exercises from time to time, you’ll probably get better results by following a dedicated grip and forearm workout.
Do this program twice a week after your back or arm workout, and never before!
Grip Strength Exercises Workout – Copyright Fit Apprentice®
Barbell reverse curls
As long as possible
Best Grip Strength Exercises – Wrapping Up
Your forearms and grip might seem unimportant, but they could be the weak link preventing you from building the body of your dreams.
If your hands fail before your lats in pull-ups or bring your deadlift set to a premature end, your workouts will never be as productive as they could be.
A weak grip can also undermine your bench and shoulder press performance.
If you have no such grip issues, you may not need to spend a lot of time training your hands and forearms.
However, if you have to rely on wrist straps and can’t train without them, you definitely need to work on your grip strength.
Use these exercises and our workout to build an unbreakable grip and forearms that are muscular and strong.
- 10 Best Pull-Up Bar Exercises for Abs + Core Muscles Workout
- The Barbell Clean and Press Exercise: How To, Benefits, Variations
- Chin Up Muscles Worked: How to Build Your Arm & Back Strength
- The Top 10 Squat Accessory Exercises for a Bigger, Better Squat
- 5 Simple Steps to Stop Elbow Pain From Lifting Weights
- The Top 15 Proper Deadlift Form Tips For Beginners
- Chin-Ups vs Pull-Ups – Which Is Better To Build Muscle?