Unique Hand Grip Exercises

October 1, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Over the weeks I have talked about unique ways to build muscle, from

Forearms
Ankles
Neck muscles

All of these muscles are neglected by most, and that is why I am enthusiastic to help you build them.

But today it is time to talk about grip strength. Grip strength training involves building strong hands, fingers and wrists.

Strong hands = Strong body

Whenever I stop working out for long periods of time, this is the first area of my body where I notice a decrease in strength.

The classic situation where I’ve noticed this is when I shake someone’s hand. Now… If you are the one whose hand is getting crushed, then that can definitely leave a dent on your ego.

From my experience, grip strength is the ultimate thing you want, especially if you are a naturally slim person. It is also a good idea to obtain this strength prior to lifting those super heavy weights and in true stayfitbug.com fashion, I’ll show you some unique ways on how you can do this.

Brick and Broom Lift

This is can actually be quite fun, and it might sound it too. But don’t be fooled, this is for sure a grip strength builder.

What to do?

  • Get a wooden handled broom, the kind with a straw brush.
  • Place the broom on the floor so that it is lying flat on the ground.
  • Place a brick on the brush part of the broom.
  • Now try and lift the broom off the ground with one of your hands grasping the end of the broom keeping the broom parallel with the floor.

You will no doubt feel the burn in your wrists. This is a good exercise as the weight can be adjusted just as in using standard weights. You can try it with your friends too.

Once you have mastered the brick and broom exercise you can move on to lifting sledgehammers using this same technique. Just be sure to stick to building your grip strength. I don’t want to be the cause of any injuries from male play fighting!

Pinch Gripping

Even if you have a very strong crushing grip, you may find that pinch gripping objects is difficult because it requires a great deal of thumb strength. It’s difficult to directly strengthen the thumb while doing other grip work because the fingers alone generally exert the squeezing forces.

What to do?

  • Take two standard weightlifting plates of the same size and place them next to each other with the smooth sides out.
  • Now try and lift them off of the floor pinching them with the fingers and thumb of one of your hands.
  • Start with 25 lb weightlifting plates, then work your way up to 35, then 45, etc.

If you want to add weight in a progressive manner, simply put a dumbbell handle through the plates and add whatever amount to the dumbbell that is necessary to continue making the lift a challenge, until you’re ready to tackle another pair of larger plates. You can also try lifting a plate by the center hub (shown below), grasping it with just your fingertips and thumb.

pinch-grip

Vertical Bar Lifting

vertical-bar-lift
Instead of lifting a horizontal barbell or dumbbell handle, you have a single bar weighted at the bottom that sits vertically. This works a combination of your crushing and supporting grip strength. The simplest way to construct a vertical bar is to purchase a loading pin. They are generally sized for Olympic or standard weightlifting plates.

As this is grip strength that we are talking about, I’m obviously going to recommend the Olympic pins since they have a diameter, which naturally forces you to grip much harder.

If the recession is still minding your pockets, you may also be able to find a section of water pipe that is threaded on one end. Simply screw on the appropriate size cap to retain the plates, and you’ll find that you have a frugal mans setup to serve as your loading pin.

This type of lift can be done either for heavy singles or timed holds, using a fixed weight. You might try rowing or doing a pulling movement with the pin in order to add some extra resistance.

Ideally, you’ll want to increase the weight, reps, sets or length of time that the weight is held.

Brick Lifting

Brick lifting (In the way I’ll describe) is very good at working your wrists as well as the pinch grip.

What to do?

  • Buy some standard size bricks.
  • Lay one flat and hold it with your four fingers underneath and your thumb on top.
  • You’ll be holding the brick length-wise meaning that your four fingers will be near to the edges (width) and the length of the brick will run from the base of your hand beyond your fingertips. Now lift!

Now that will probably be easy for most of you and this is when you ante up.

Start stacking bricks on the end opposite your thumb. You’ll see just how much stress this puts on the wrist and pinch grip (where the thumb is usually the weak link). Try stacking five or six bricks across the end of another, and then lift the whole stack just as I’ve described.  The real burn here is trying to keep them level, and this is where your wrists will begin to work.

It is for sure very important to build grip strength, and as I have mentioned, it is that what gives me my confidence of the ability of my own strength. But stay tuned for part 2 for more unique ways on how you can build your grip strength.

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