We use our hands for EVERYTHING.
Whether its everyday tasks like carrying groceries, opening jars, and lifting suitcases, or gym-related activities like chin-ups, rows, and deadlifts. Of course, you probably also type at your computer for hours with resulting aches and pains at the end of the work day.
Stretching out the hands and building up a strong grip can help in all of those areas. A strong grip has even been correlated to lower mortality rates and you can also imagine the usefulness of a stronger grip for aging individuals if they happen to slip.
Let’s look through the types of grips
This is what you probably think of when you think of a strong grip. This is the whole hand closing in around something. A strong handshake. None of that dead-fish handshake stuff!
Think of making an alligator mouth with your hands, and chomping down. In this grip, there tends to be a lot more work/stress on the thumb. This is important to work, as the thumb is a vital part of a strong grip!
This is similar to crush, but rather than the ability to close, this type of grip tests the ability to hold.
This type of grip work is all about strengthening the opposing muscles. We were built to grab and hold onto things, so these muscles will not be as strong.
Wrist movement and wrist stability is the focus here. In order to be able to transfer energy from the body through the hands, we need to make sure every link in the chain is strong.
When putting together a grip routine of your own, its a good idea to cycle through these different types of grips over the course of the week, in order to work different muscles and different angles.
How To Improve Grip Strength
STRETCHES AT YOUR DESK
You might be reading this while sitting at your computer right now. We put a LOT of stress on our hands and wrists over the course of a day, so take the time to take care of these hard workers!
Below is a quick stretch routine, just three moves. This is good for a warm-up or just for overall hand health. We spend a lot of the day at our computer with our elbows bent and our hands in a pronated position (palms turned down), therefore stretches with our elbows extended and hands supinated (palms turned up) is a good idea.
- Fingers back, palms on desk: You can stretch straight backwards, or rock gently left to right. 10-15 repetitions.
- Finger back, palms lifted off desk: You can lift the palms and get a bit more stretch through the fingers and first knuckle. Again, stretch straight backwards, or rock gently left to right. 10-15 repetitions.
- Fists together, back of hands on desk: Make two fists, with the thumbs on the outside of your fingers. Bend your elbows and put the knuckles together like two cogs in a machine. Bend your elbows and put the back of your hands fully on the desk. Keep your fists together (this will be tough) and fists tightly closed (this will also be tough) as you bend and flex your elbows. 10-15 repetitions.
You can also stretch out the thumbs at your desk by stretching your wrists in the direction of your thumb. If you think about how your hands are often oriented on your keyboard, youll see that they are often bend toward your pinky. You may be surprised how good this feels if youve never done it before. Do for 10-15 repetitions.
EXERCISES AT YOUR DESK
Do you know theres already an excellent piece of grip strengthening equipment present in many offices? What is that?
The rubber band!
Snag one off that rubber band ball in your desk and do these simple rubber band extensions:
If one band gets too easy, put two or more on! This is a super easy exercise to do that gets the blood moving through the hands and helps balance out your vice-grip like hands.
Another grip exercise that can easily be done at your desk is closing grippers. Now, this does require an investment, but youll find that these grippers last FOREVER.
You can also use one of the most common things lying around on your desk to practice your grip.
BOOK! The bigger, the heavier, the better!
Grab it in that pinch grip position (fingers on one side, thumb on the other). This may be easy, if so, then walk the book in your hand by moving your fingers up and down the spine while you hold it in mid-air. Do this for several trips!
Other exercises you can practice:
- Dumbbell head grab: Put a dumbbell on its end and pick it up by the head. Could anything replicate a pickle jar more? Be careful with this exercise if the dumbbell is too big, as the thumb can easily be strained if its stretched too far. Hold for time (~30 seconds) or go for heavier weight.
- (Grocery bags) Farmers walks: Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells (heavy for you) and walk around! Dont have space to walk? Just stand there! 30 seconds minimum! Alternatively you can also load up those tough, reusable bags with anything. Stand in place or walk around the neighborhood.
- Barbell finger rolls: How to work the crushing grip without grippers. You can use an empty bar or load up some weight. Get the bar to your fingertips, then squeeze and crush! ~10 repetitions.
- Towel chin-ups: Regular chin-ups too easy? Throw a pair of towels over the bar and challenge that grip. A great exercise to prepare for rope climbing!
- Bar hang: Simply hanging from the bar or gymnastic rings will build up your grip strength! If you cant hang freely, put your feet on the ground for an assist. Couldnt be simpler! Work up to one minute or more!
- Wrist curls/Reverse wrist curls: What many may think of when they think of grip strength exercises. Not bad for some wrist strength. ~10 repetitions. Pictured Left: Wrist curls, Right: Reverse wrist curls
- Sledgehammer / Barbell levering: An unbelievable wrist exercise that is not for the beginner. This is a tough exercise and should be approached slowly. Grab the bar with one hand, off-center, and lift it to parallel. You can lift to the front and the back. Grab closer to the sledgehammer head to make it easy, farther to make it tough. This can also be done at a faster pace with with PVC pipe.