Lifting weights... Get a grip

Lifting weights... Get a grip

Grip strength isn't just something you need for climbing. To lift heavier in almost all exercises, from a barbell, kettle bell, dumbbell or even your own bodyweight, you need a strong grip. It may only be a small part, but getting a better grip can help increase your heavy session day. 

Let's get straight to it, and work through the four main exercises your grip can help with. How to improve your grip, and in turn, increase your lifting potential. 

 

Bench Press
Suicide grip is exactly as it sounds, dangerous. Keeping your fingers and thumb on the same side of the bar may make you feel like a bad ass, but trust me, you don't want to drop the weight. Notice as you begin to lift heavier, suicide grip gets much harder? There's a reason for that. Make sure your thumb goes around the other side of the bar, and keep your forearms perpendicular to the floor throughout the lift. 

To improve grip strength, opt for a thicker bar, or grips that fit around a bar to make the bar 'fatter' to work those digits.

Deadlift
When you're going through your warm up, a double overhand grip is absolutely fine. As you get heavier, change over to a mixed grip, with one palm facing towards you, with the bar between you and your palm, and the other hand facing away, with your hand between you and the bar. Make sure you switch which hand faces which way each time to avoid constant strain and maximise muscle strength in the wrists. 

Before lifting, squeeze the bar as tight as you can, this will help boost your grip strength over time, you'll be crushing those handshakes in no time.

Front Squat
These can be difficult to hold if you've had any form of wrist injury in the past. If you can, get your fingers under the bar once rested on your collar bone, and keep your elbows facing forward, if you struggle allow your pinky finger to come off the bar. This still may be too difficult, and if you find yourself struggling still, move to tying wrist straps around the bar, and holding the end of the straps instead. 

Don't get down about this one, it is hard if you've had literally any form of niggling wrist injury, ever. Just focus on being the best you that you can be.

Pull Ups
The hardest of them all, you're now relying on your grip to not only support your whole body weight, but to raise it, and then lower it back down under control. To help with this, add an extra exercise at the end of your pull ups. Start with a single pull up, but this time, once you lower to the bottom, hold for 30 seconds. Do this for as many reps as you can until you can't hit the 30 seconds. 

Other options to improve the gripping power include -
Towel pull ups, where you hang a towel over one grip and hold the opposite grip normally. Do your pull ups, then switch sides for the next set.
Kettle bell crush rows, hold the kettle bell like you're trying to crush a watermelon, then perform rows, using your sheer grip to not allow the kettle bell to fall.

If you have any other advice on grip strength, from climbing, experience or understanding, drop them in the comments below, we'd love to hear! 


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