A Grip Like a Vice: Grip Strength Training Tips

by A Manly Guest Contributor on November 10, 2011 · 82 comments

in Fitness, Health & Sports

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Jedd Johnson.

In this day and age, we all know (or should know) how important it is to maintain a healthy level of physical fitness in order to live a good quality life, maintain our cardiovascular system, and keep our bodies strong in order to thrive into our later years. For many of us, this means getting into the gym in order to do resistance training — one of the best forms of exercise that is available to us. For those looking to get back into the gym in order to maximize your health, strength, and vigor, one thing to take into consideration that is often forgotten or completely ignored is grip strength. “Grip strength? What does that have to do with anything?” you might ask. It may not make sense to you right off the bat to take time to train the hands and lower arms while at the gym. I know when I first learned about it, it seemed like a complete waste of time to spend valuable training time on less than 5% of your body, but the truth of the matter is having a strong grip pays many dividends both in your training and elsewhere.

What is Grip Strength?

Grip strength is often thought of as simply hand strength, and while hand strength is definitely included, there are actually many other things to consider when thinking of grip. First off, grip involves everything from the musculature near the elbow down to the fingertips. It has to be thought of this way because many of the forearm and hand flexor muscles actually originate above the elbow, and anytime a muscle crosses a joint, it will in some way influence it. As we move downward, the gripping muscles pass through the forearms, the wrists, and into the hands, fingers, and thumbs — and not only through the front of the forearms, but also the back of forearms. This is important to remember. When we look at grip in this manner, we start to see that there are MANY movement patterns that are realized by the lower arm musculature. As we train the lower arms, we must then remember to train all of these movement patterns in order to maintain a suitable balance between the antagonistic muscle groups, such as the flexors and extensors. In fact, many cases of inflammation-related forearm pain such as tendonitis, tendonosis and epicondylitis can arise due to improper training of the forearm muscles or simply neglecting certain muscle groups or movement patterns.

Benefits of Having a Strong Grip

There are many reasons men should seek to have a strong grip. They range from social reasons, to training reasons, and beyond. Let’s highlight a few.

Stronger Grip = Stronger Handshake. Whether it is right or not, men are often judged by their level of strength and by how strong they seem. Nothing is a better example of this than the need for a strong, hearty handshake. When you shake hands with a man and he looks you in the eye and gives you a solid squeeze back, it makes him seem more confident, dependable, and trustworthy. However, if they hit you with the proverbial “dead fish” handshake, they lose credibility and may even seem slimy and weak.

Don’t let this be your handshake…
Stronger Grip = Bigger Lifts. When you have a strong grip, you are able to lift heavier weights in the gym. Especially in pulling movements such as deadlifts, rows, pull-ups, and chin-ups, a solid grip that you can call upon will help you increase your training results by increasing strength.

Stronger Grip = Better Endurance. When your hands and lower arms are strong, you can also perform more repetitions than someone whose weak hands are a liability. This means you will be able to perform more repetitions per set of an exercise, thus burning more calories, losing more fat, and building more muscle.

Stronger Grip = Better Later Life Quality. Research has now shown that grip strength has proven to be a reliable indicator for quality of life at an older age. For instance, in 1999 a study concluded the following:

“Among healthy 45- to 68-year-old men, hand grip strength was highly predictive of functional limitations and disability 25 years later. Good muscle strength in midlife may protect people from old age disability by providing a greater safety margin above the threshold of disability.”

Stronger Grip = Better Injury Resiliency. Muscles and connective tissues that are strengthened are more injury-resistant, and if injury does end up taking place, stronger tissue can usually recover faster so that you are back on top of your game. This is particularly important for athletes who play contact sports, especially when the hands play such a major role in success. For instance, while players of football and basketball are highly dependent on the strength of their legs and core, their performance is hindered substantially just by jamming a finger or developing pain in the wrist or forearm. And breaking or spraining the wrist will land an athlete on the bench to watch the game from the sidelines.

Now that we have established that there is a lot more involved in grip training than just using our hands, and now that we know just how beneficial it can be to have a strong grip, let’s take a look at some of the many defined movement patterns that exist with grip training.

Types of Grip Strength

There are many defined forms of gripping. Some involve primarily the hands while others involve action from the wrist and forearm as well. See below.

Hand Specific Movements

Crushing — Crushing is the action of closing the fingers against a resistance. Similar in nature but often forgotten are clamping (wrapping the fingers around something and squeezing it toward the palm) and crimping (directing force with the fingers toward the callous line).

Pinching — Pinching involves grasping something with the thumbs in opposition to the fingers. This can be static (no movement, such as gripping a board) or dynamic (such as squeezing the handles of a clamp).

support grip on kettlebell handle
– Support grip entails lifting something with the fingers taking the brunt of a load — normally in an isometric fashion, like deadlifts, rows, and kettlebell work. It should be noted that true support grip entails the fingers wrapping well around the bar. If the handle is large enough that there is a space between the fingers and thumb, it is referred to as open hand support.

Hand extensions in bucket of sand
— Hand extension is the opening of the fingers and thumb (antagonistic action to flexion of the fingers and thumb).

ulnar deviation fo the wrist
Wrist & Forearm Postures

Ulnar / Radial Deviation — Angling the wrist toward the inside or outside edges of the forearm. Shown above is ulnar deviation. Movement toward the thumb side would be radial deviation.

Flexion / Extension
— Flexion is the bending of the wrist so that the palm moves toward the front of the forearm — shown above. Extension, then, is the antagonistic movement pattern and involves moving the wrist so that the back of the hand moves toward the back of the forearm.

Pronation / Supination – These are the terms given to forearm rotation. Pronation is the turning of the forearm so that the palm faces down (similar to prone, as in lying face-down), while supination is turning the forearm so that the palm faces upward.

circumduction of the wrist
— This is a combination of all of the above movement patterns, where the hand moves in a circular fashion about the wrist. It can also be done holding something, such as with the shot device shown above, as a leverage move.

elbow flexion with pronation
Elbow Movement Patterns

Flexion (with Pronation) – Bending the elbow so that the forearm nears the bicep with the palm facing downward (like a reverse bicep curl motion). Shown above, this is a very important movement for preventing and getting rid of inflammation injuries like tennis elbow.

Flexion (with Supination) – Bending the elbow so that the forearm nears the bicep with the palm facing upward (like a normal bicep curl motion, not shown).

Extension – Straightening the elbow, such as in the bench press. Any weakness or liability in the surrounding musculature can decrease your numbers on the bench and other movements.

Common Grip Training Exercises

Grippers (Crush Grip) Crushing a Gripper
There are many types of grippers on the market. The objective is to squeeze them so that the handles touch together. Some companies have certifications for closing their grippers. Grippers are probably the most popular form of grip training. Everyone should have a set. If you can close the number 3 from IronMind, you are considered to have a great crushing grip, and you can get certified (women can now certify on the number 2).

Plate Pinching (Pinch Grip) pinching 4 tens
This is done by setting up two or more plates smooth-sides-out and then lifting them off the floor in a pinch grip. Common combinations include 4-tens, 2-25’s, and 7-fives. If you can pinch 5-tens, 2-35’s, or 8-fives, then you have an excellent grip. If you can pinch 6-tens, 2-45’s, or 3-25’s, then you are world class.

Block Weights (Pinch Grip)

These are really any block-shaped device, but most often are broken or cut-off heads of a dumbbell that are lifted off the ground in a Pinch Grip. The most popular goal in grip training is to lift the 50-lb Blob, a half 100-lb dumbbell produced by York Barbell.

Thick Bar Lifting (Open Hand Support) inch dumbbell
As the handle of a dumbbell thickens it becomes much harder to lift. The most widely recognized feat of thick bar strength is the Thomas Inch Replica Dumbbell, weighing roughly 172 lbs and having a nearly 2.5-inch thick handle. All one unit with non-rotating globe heads, as soon as the bells leave the ground the entire unit starts to spin, peeling your grip open. This dumbbell is named after a challenge dumbbell used by the strongman performer Thomas Inch in the 19th century.

Ways to Increase Grip Strength

There are many ways to develop your grip strength, beyond just using the equipment shown in the section above. However, it should be noted that while the classic hand and forearm work done and taught in gyms usually includes wrist curls, these really do not have anywhere near as big of an impact as other exercises.

Drop the Straps. In order to start challenging your hand strength and to start building a grip that will enable you to crush other mens’ hands (when so inclined) as well as to produce the lower arm strength that will be a huge asset in other forms of strength and fitness training, sports, and manual labor, the first thing you should do is to drastically reduce the use of lifting straps and other gripping aids in the gym. Sure, when you reach the upper levels of your pulling strength in movements such as deadlifts and rows, by all means strap in so that you can get your repetition goal, but on the lighter sets, there really is no need to use straps.

Open Hand Training
Dumbbell Row with Fat Gripz Handle
As far as grip-specific exercises go, the easiest thing you can do is to choose implements that force you to lift with your hand in a more open position. One simple way to do this is to use Fat Gripz or Grip4orce handles when performing your pulling and curling movements. These go right onto the handles of the implements and require more of your hands during the movement because your fingers cannot wrap completely around the bar or dumbbell.

Two Hands Pinch

World Record in the Two Hands Pinch, December 2009, 256.04-lbs

Place two plates together smooth-sides-out, such as a pair of 35’s or 45’s. Then, run a pipe through the center hole and add more weight to the pipe. Grip the set-up in an overhand grip and try to lift it to lockout. You can go for maximum weight lifted or just perform repetitions or holds for time. The implement shown above is the adjustable device used in grip strength contests. The Two Hands Pinch is one of the staple events.

Towel Training gripping kettlebell handle with towel wrapped on
Towels can be used for instant thick and dynamic gripping surfaces (make sure it is a strong towel that won’t rip). For instance, you can loop a towel over a bar and perform pull-ups (similar to the rope pull-ups below), attach one to a cable machine for pull-downs and rows, or around a kettlebell (shown above) for an even more dynamic and metabolic method of training the grip.

Plate Curls plate curling
Hook your thumb over the edge of a 25-lb plate and support it with your palm and straight fingers. Next, try to perform a curl with the plate, trying to keep your wrist and fingers from buckling under the pressure. This is one of the most basic grip training methods, yet one of the most difficult.

Inverted Dumbbell Lift

Stand a 30- to 40-lb dumbbell up on its head and try to lift it with one hand by the top in a claw grip. Use the number for a grip aid if you need to. Once you get it this way, try it without using the number. All dumbbells are different and vary in level of difficulty based on their shape, finish of paint, and more, but it is a very good training method.

Rope Training narrow pull-ups with a towel T-bar Row with ropes for handles
Rope training is awesome for cardio and conditioning, but many do not realize how hard it hits the grip and forearms as well.

Grip Training Guidelines for Beginners

While everyone can benefit from including regular grip training in their workout routines, not everyone is at the same level of strength and some people may be more susceptible to injuries. Because of this, keep these tidbits in mind as you begin and progress.

Start out light: Begin by modifying some of your regular lifting so that it is more grip-intense and then from there add more work. For instance, you can use a towel as the handle on rows for a couple of weeks to get the hands used to working harder, then you can begin adding other implements and techniques into the training as well.

Move up slowly: For those just starting out with grip training, I like to suggest one or two grip-intensive lifts per session once per week for two weeks. After two weeks, move up to two workouts where you include grip-specific lifts. After a month, shoot for workouts where you train the grip with serious intentions up to 3 times a week. This is usually enough for just about everybody.

Watch the volume: When performing grip lifts separate from the rest of your routine, keep an eye on the volume. Think of training volume as the number of sets and reps in a workout. Most people progress very well with grip strength if they stay in the 3 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 repetitions range when performing lifts like the Two Hands Pinch. That is a total of roughly 9 to 25 total attempts in a workout. It’s not that much.

Train the extensors: To keep progressing, make sure to include training for the muscles on the back of the hand, the extensors. You can do this easily and on the cheap by using the large rubber bands found on heads of broccoli or with #84 rubber bands from Staples. Wrap the rubber band around the fingers and thumb and then open them against the resistance of the band.  This is a surprisingly effective way to work the extensors.  If you can do more than 20 repetitions, then try adding another rubber band in order to increase the resistance or hold the opened position for 2 or 3 seconds before doing the next repetition.

Jedd Johnson is a strength coach and competitive grip sport athlete. He holds the World Record in the Two Hands Pinch, a staple event in many grip strength contests and loves spreading the world about Grip Sport and the importance of strong hands for athletes. For hundreds of free articles on Grip Training, check out his website at DieselCrew.com, and for a free 8 weeks of Grip Training workouts, sign up here: Grip Program.

{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sam November 10, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Thanks! This is really helpful. I’ve been looking for a few good exercises for my forearms.

2 Nathan November 10, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Rock climbing is a fun way to get super strong forearms, hands, and fingers.

3 Stephen November 10, 2011 at 8:49 pm

“Stronger Grip = Stronger Handshake”

Well, yes, but only in moderation.

4 Brian November 10, 2011 at 9:26 pm

As a physical therapist, I’d like to say “hoorah!”

5 Edgar November 10, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Excellent! As a practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu this is extremely helpful!

Thanks a lot!

6 Jordan November 10, 2011 at 11:24 pm

I would rather just go rock climbing

7 core November 11, 2011 at 12:14 am

Don’t forget grip strength is great for manly things like playing guitar, shooting guns, golf, tennis, martial arts, and rock climbing.

8 Vinayak Killekar November 11, 2011 at 12:19 am

Thanks much for the knowledge-base article shared.

9 Santeri November 11, 2011 at 2:24 am

One very good exercise for grip strength is one-armed deadlifts. Grab the middle of the bar with one hand, support yourself with the another one – place it on your leg, little over the kneecap – and do 3×5 sets with each arm twice a week. Start with light weights. Very easy to do and you will progress quite fast.

10 Stephen November 11, 2011 at 5:26 am

Interesting article. However, I don’t think any man needs to train in order to give a firm handshake. Also, it’s a little spurious quoting an article that finds grip strength is an indicator of overall health and conclude from that alone that increasing your grip improves overall health.

11 Steve November 11, 2011 at 5:31 am

@Santeri, one arm deads are great but it’s not a true lift if you use your knee for suppport. I’d recommend doing your lighter sets with your hand free and then add it as support as the weight gets heavier.

12 Steve November 11, 2011 at 5:32 am

Santeri, one arm deads are great but it’s not a true lift if you use your knee for suppport. I’d recommend doing your lighter sets with your hand free and then add it as support as the weight gets heavier.

13 Michael H November 11, 2011 at 5:36 am

This is precisely why I never use straps, or even gloves anymore. I don’t need to be lifting\pulling anything that my weakest link couldn’t handle. That’s the whole point of my workouts: to strengthen my weak links…not build around them.
Plus, there’s something kind of Rollins-ish about feeling that cold steel bar in your hands. Poetic.

Great post, by the way. I’m sure i need to work on my extensors.


14 Slavi November 11, 2011 at 6:38 am

A great post!!

“Stronger Grip = Better Later Life Quality”

I actually don’t think this is true. Having a stronger grip is just the consequence of having done lots of hard labor, which is clearly a predictor of better life quality. But if you achieve strong grip in a different way (working out for strong grip only), there’s no proof that this has any correlation with life quality. In fact, I’d argue that it doesn’t.

15 Radio Matty November 11, 2011 at 7:00 am

For those of you who don’t know Jedd, he’s a seriously dedicated athlete, well-read, and well-practiced. And physiologically speaking, improved grip strength for the eveyman does have an effect in a man’s life that can translate to many other areas. As far as grip strength as an indicator of quality of life in later years, a man concerned about his health now will likely take steps that ensure his years as an older man will be lived in better condition and in greater health. I see what he’s saying.

16 Brian November 11, 2011 at 7:20 am

“Interesting article. However, I don’t think any man needs to train in order to give a firm handshake…”
Have you ever received a dead fish handshake? I have. There are definitely men out there who could benefit from this article in the handshake department.

17 Daren Redekopp November 11, 2011 at 7:49 am

I wonder, are there are any ways I could incorporate grip-training into every day activities?

18 Stephen November 11, 2011 at 8:11 am

(the one from November 10, 2011 at 8:49 pm)

A dead fish handshake generally stems from lacking the confidence to properly grasp and shake someone’s hand. It’s very, very rare that someone actually lacks the upper body strength to shake your hand because shaking hands doesn’t require very much strength at all.

Hand*shakes* are not an exercise in using your bodybuilder’s muscles to crush someone’s hand. You should exert yourself when more opening doors than shaking hands.

19 Stephen November 11, 2011 at 8:15 am

I get a sense that “Stronger Grip = Better Later Life Quality” is drawing a correlation between being healthy throughout your life and doing better in old age. I can see that there would a cross over there.

I would strongly disagree if he’s putting it *entirely* on having a strong grip and no other factors, because that would be insane (what about heart attacks?), but I can see that there would be a connection.

20 Seth November 11, 2011 at 8:27 am

If you like to get outside to workout you can practice bouldering or rock climbing as well. Instead of climbing straight up, try traversing the wall or boulder. Doing so will build both strength and endurance in your entire arm and hands. The natural face of the boulder (or wall in the case of an indoor climbing facility) offers many different grips that cover every type of strength training listed in the article. Make you if you do it, you do it safely. Rock climbing can be dangerous! If you are only doing it for a workout, don’t go more than two or three feet of the ground, and have a friend with you!

21 Lindsay November 11, 2011 at 9:38 am

Thank you for posting this, I really need it. My husband bought a semi-automatic pistol for home defense and it is almost impossible for me to pull back the slide mechanism to load the first round, under the best of circumstances. If I ever really need to use the gun and he isn’t home, I will be SOL. I will try these exercises!

22 Zach November 11, 2011 at 9:39 am

Rock climbing will give you the grip strength described in this article and wonderful lower arm, core, lower back and upper back strength.

Just check out some videos of Chris Sharma, arguably the best sport climber in the world today.

23 Don Nguyen November 11, 2011 at 9:41 am

For those who do not want to spend lots of times at the GYM lifting weights after weights, rock-climbing is an excellent alternative method, not only to build your forearm (which guarantees will explode out of proportion of your body) but also the rest of your body as well. Rock climbing requires core, muscle, tendon strengths, anything you can think of, even the mental endurance of a die-hard athletic. Google your closest rock-climbing gym and give it a try, I assure you will not regret your decision. After trying rock-climbing for 2 years ago, I seem can get on with my life with out spending times at the local gym now. All the best, ladies and gentlemen.

24 John Sifferman November 11, 2011 at 10:11 am

I’m surprised club swinging didn’t make the list – clubbells are an incredible grip strength training tool that are ideal for strengthening some of those basic ranges covered in the “wrist and forearm postures” section.

Good suggestions, nonetheless, though. I would also re-iterate the rock climbing (e.g. indoor wall climbing) recommendation – best way to improve a broad spectrum of grip strength IMO.

25 Taylor Bryan November 11, 2011 at 10:15 am

Several people have mentioned rock climbing as an alternative way to build your grip strength, but I know several climbers who did grip exercises like these when they couldn’t make it to a climbing gym or outdoors. These exercises are easy to do at home and a good way to make sure that your grip won’t be the limiting factor for your climbing. Very informative article for anyone interested in improving their grip.

26 Mike M. November 11, 2011 at 10:26 am

Does anybody have any tips for working on your grips from work? I spend a lot of time reading and on the phone for my job, and I’d love to use some of the downtime to do real simple grip (especially pinch) exercises.

27 Matt Muller November 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Get a grip man! Awesome article as always.
Amen on rock climbing. I really got a boost to my grip and confidence as I got better at it. As an added bonus my guitar playing really took off once my grip got better.

I would suggest that strong hands are part of the whole fitness package and should be accompanied by strong FEET. Do things like walking barefoot, towel scrunches, calf raises off of a step, etc. Don’t forget general strength and flexibility. Squats, Pull ups, Push ups, Planks. Try to keep your body strong and supple for as long as you can.

28 Jay November 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm

What about dexterity? Grip strength is good for tasks requiring endurance (which, IMO, is the most important reason to increase grip strength, never mind a good handshake or lifting bigger weights at the gym) but how would it affect tasks requiring dexterous fingers and wrists? (Ex: working in a cramped engine bay, playing a complex/fast song on the guitar.)

29 Tim Struse November 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I shook hands with the author of this article, Jedd, and it was like grabbing a cinder block. He didn’t have to squeeze hard for me to feel the massive development of his thumb and pinky pads. Very intimidating, and very cool. Business is about power, and even without squeezing hard Jedd’s handshake conveys a message of absolute power.
Grip strength has been one of the truest manifestations of masculinity for thousands of years (e.g., Beowulf, a hero from a literary work over 1,000 years old whose grip strength allowed him to rip off the arm off of the demon Grendel).
I would strongly recommend direct grip training for anyone who enjoys feeling powerful and virile, and Jedd’s article is a great place to start. Rather than searching for petty reasons to quibble with the article, man-up and start training your grip.

30 Tim Struse November 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm

@ Mike M:
Grip is very easy to train at work and great for stress relief. I’d suggest buying one or two high-quality hand grippers, e.g. from http://www.grippersuperstore.com. You can train your thumbs with a simple clamp from the hardware store, though more sophisticated thumb tools are also available. You can train your extensors with thick rubber bands, as suggested by the article. Total cost = +/- $30-$50, and easy hides in your desk drawer. Best wishes for your training.

31 Dave Howell November 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I came here to suggest rock climbing as an additional tool for increasing grip and overall strength. It seems a lot of people had the same idea. I’ll be putting some of the methods suggested in this article to increase my capabilities in climbing for sure though. Thanks for the tips!

32 Sir Cheetah November 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Excellent topic! I have been studying exercise science on my own for 5 years, this is my first year in college for it, but I learned two really good techniques I picked up in Iraq when I was building for the SEALs (I’m a Seabee) they taugh me about progressive calisthenics and for grip it’s all about bar hangs (and eventually working you way to one armed towel hangs) and fingertip pushups. You need to work the muscles which govern your ability to actually open your hand not just crushing ability in order to have a healthy, well-balanced hand. Just my two-cents!

33 Kevin November 11, 2011 at 2:32 pm

There are a lot of great excercies here. As others mentioned, these will come in handy when training for rock climbing.

One note of caution to the readers regarding Stronger Grip = Better Later Life Quality: Strengthing your grip alone will not make your late life better. Men in the study who had less muscle deterioration had fewer disabilities. Strong Grip correlates to (and can predict) better life quality, but did not cause it. Overall strength from continued phsyical activity and healthy diet preserves function and prevents disability.

34 Chad Barnsdale November 11, 2011 at 2:40 pm


Lots of great information, so thanks for that. I started doing farmers walks about 6 months ago, and it made a huge difference in my deadlifts (my hands were fatiguing) and especially when rock climbing. I’m now able to climb for extended periods of time, and though I know rock climbing with more frequency has helped, I think farmers walks have helped a lot too.

35 Geralt November 11, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Guys, griptraining is cool. I train it since 2008 and thought I had a strong grip. The gripper #3 from Ironmind stopped me right in my tracks. It’s cool to have something to work for and to reach that goal. At a certain point you will see that you need to get stronger all around to achieve higher goals in grip. So that’s a win-win situation.
It’s a scene where everybody is VERY supportive and where some serious strong guys walk around. And with a bit of creativity you can make some gripstuff very easy yourself. There are some guys around who are doing a LOT for the sport. Learn and incorporate, how much more could you want. Helped me a lot. Keep it up and train hard!

36 Gregory Smith November 11, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Stronger grip means a kinder heart.

37 Tim Hardy November 11, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Great piece – I spent my formative years as a milkman, out in all weathers with 4 pints of milk in each hand – stood me in good stead with the grip factor!!

38 Grace November 11, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Mean. Thes tips are great. Walk into your local shiney gym (if you are unlucky enough to be a member at one) and crack out some chins/pullups wih towel around the bar. Watch the guys squatting 500lbs look on in amazement. The go squat your butt off.

39 daniel reinard November 11, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Awesome article!

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Hans Florine at my climbing gym and he is for grip training for climbing and other sports. And as a climber who later got into grip training, I can say it immediately helped my climbing along with other sports and weight lifting. Now I take time to teach hand strengthening tips with fellow climbers and I encourage them to include grip training with their training for climbing. Jedd Johnson has been extremely knowledgeable in his advice for incorporating hand strengthening for any sport.

40 daniel reinard November 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm


I’ve also been lucky to meet Jedd and receive training tips from him. His backround in sports and grip is extensive and it shows. The man has never steered me wrong. It was a great article to read. I highly recommend everyone try this stuff and see how it works for you.

I should also share that I have yet to meet a woman who was not turned on by strong hands. If you can tell a woman in honesty that you have 3 times the crush grip of an average man, can bend bolts and horseshoes at will, and can lift more with one finger than some can with two hands, my bet is they will more than intriqued to know more about you.

41 Matthew November 11, 2011 at 8:18 pm

As a fan of rock climbing, I certainly enjoyed seeing the comments recommendation to do more of that. :D

I certainly didn’t read “Stronger Grip = Better Later Life Quality” to mean that all I need to live better/longer is a stronger grip. It is always good to have reminders about how our life today determines our life tomorrow.

42 Mighty Joe November 11, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Great article Jedd!!!

Very extensive and thorough my friend!!!

It’s already been mentioned but Jedd Johnson is not only a Elite Grip Athlete but a
modern day icon when it comes to grip strength related movements, training, feats,
promotion of the sport, etc.

Some of the less than positive comments would probably be reconsidered if one took
some time to get familiar with what Jedd covered in this superb article.

Have a Grip Day!!!

43 John Bates November 11, 2011 at 11:50 pm

With all the rockclimbing posts, I didn’t see any suggesting a fingerboard. This is a small rock climbing trainer mounted above a doorway at home. It improves grip and allows you to train at home. Metolius sells some great ones.

44 Sandy November 12, 2011 at 12:57 am

I had to share this with my readers and clients – so often this aspect of strength is overlooked and so often it is grip strength that prevents folks from doing heavier deadlifts and more pull-ups

45 CJW November 12, 2011 at 4:14 am

Milking goats and cows is a great way to increase hand strength over time. I grew up on a farm and when I was a child i would always surprise grown men with the strength of my handshake

46 Jedd November 12, 2011 at 8:41 am

I want to say thanks for the opportunity to write for the AOM Blog again.

Many people recommended rock climbing as a way to improve the grip. Nothing against climbing, but when I wrote the article, I wanted to offer Grip Training suggestions that people could do in the gym or in their homes using mostly equipment they already have access to or by buying equipment that is fairly reasonable and highly practical (Grip4orce, Fat Gripz). Climbing didn’t jump at me when I was thinking of examples, although definitely it is a great hand builder.

Also, as some have pointed out, the statement about grip strength being an indicator of later life quality, is just that, an indicator. It isn’t by any means a cause and effect relationship, just a strong correlation, although I certainly plan on living until I am 120 and strong as an ox ;)

I encourage everyone to train Grip because of the benefits and I hope that you consider finding out more about Grip Sport as well. It is an awesome sport.

Thanks again for the opportunity for me to write about my passion. If anyone has any questions, feel free to contact me.


47 Henrik Forsberg November 12, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I think that grip strength certainly gives more life quality when you are old, just think about many times a day we are using grip strength , try living a life were you can’t open screwlids, doors, carry stuff, put on your own sock without a massive effort.
It would be quite tearing on the mind.
Speaking of something else, this summer i gained quite a grip strength when i was helping out building a fireplace and chimney out of natural rocks, my job was to clean and carry the rock inside, i lifted every rock about 3-4 times and the amount of rocks we used was about 4-5000kg, after two weeks it was nice with a bit of rest:)

48 Jacob November 13, 2011 at 12:37 am

Interesting article. I will start doing some of these trainings. I only clock in at about 200 right now, but at the tender age of 18, muscle is not hard to develop.

49 Kirk Patrick November 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Great article. The two ways I’ve increased my grip strength (to the point where women comment on it when I massage them) are pull-ups/chin-ups and squeezing fresh lemons to make lemonade.

50 Kiwi November 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm

An objection:

Musicians concentrate on fine muscle control. This fetish about a strong hand equalling masculinity does not apply to them, or for that matter, to every culture.

For example, (pianist) Sviatoslav Richter had fists like a butcher and the stamina of an ox, but he would never impose this strength while shaking hands.

Further, please visit a country outside of the US and meet many extraordinarily gentle and courteous gentlemen that you would be terrified to cross.

It’s a matter of culture. Not always is a firm handshake and a loud voice welcome.

Peace to you.

51 Hal November 13, 2011 at 7:57 pm

For those of you who either don’t have time or don’t have the proper access for rock climbing or climbing gyms, here is your solution. You can buy the same holds they use at climbing gyms. A package of 5 fist-sized ones usually runs about $30-40. They come in a bewildering assortment of sizes, shapes, etc. Take a piece of 3/4″ plywood, bolt the holds to it (the nuts and bolts are included), and put it up high so you can do chin-ups with it. This kills two birds with one stone. Grip strength AND boosting your lats. It may not give you the full climbing experience/workout, but if all you want is the grip strength, it’s a relatively cheap way to get it. You can also add to your collection of holds for some variety.

52 Gripper November 13, 2011 at 10:38 pm

A very good article, but I found swinging a sledge hammer for twenty years gave me all the hand strength I require

53 TheGearMonger November 14, 2011 at 12:25 am

Those Captain of Crush hand grippers are no joke! I would definitely recommend bringing a pair to work and putting them in a drawer you go into often and, every time you do, pump out a few sets (similar to the ‘grease the grove’ technique). Whatever method you use, make sure to stretch your muscles just like any other muscle group.

54 Chris November 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm

One-handed rope curls. Hold the stick in one hand with the rope on the OUTSIDE of your hand (near pinky). Raise and lower the weight up by rotating the stick around in circles so the rope gets wound up around it. Do clockwise and counter-clockwise rotations with each hand. This works out the complete range of motion for your wrist, and gives you great results in a few weeks.

55 David W November 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm

This is exactly why I take every opportunity to work with my hands. Nothing like having meaty hands with fingers that can also dance on a fretboard.

56 John Bohlig November 15, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Bravo. I’m a sheet metal worker. “Grip” is part of my job. I need strong hands. And this is something that can instantly make my life easier. Plus, I can train at home.

57 Johnny November 16, 2011 at 2:47 am

Great article! Congratulations on your world record Mr. Johnson! Getting to that level couldn’t have been easy!

I have a couple of questions: What’s the policy on chalk? I assume it’s good, right? Goes without saying? Is this a dumb question?

Another question: another poster suggested using the captains of crush regularly, Brooks Kubik and some others recommended training grip seriously, like another body part due to the possibility of over-training. What’s the best method? Is this another endurance vs. power issue?


58 wrestler training November 16, 2011 at 11:23 am

As a wrestler, grip is very, very important in what I do. A lot of times training specifically for it is overlooked, and that can be an otherwise amazing wrestler’s downfall. Cheers.

59 Tyler November 17, 2011 at 1:15 pm

When I saw the dead fish, I thought the article was going to tell me how to kill a freshly caught fish by “gripping” him to death. Which I’ve done. On a daily basis. Since I was two.

60 Sam November 18, 2011 at 1:09 am

I have a finger trainer called “wood grips”. It is above the doorway between my kitchen and my living room. Getting one of these things could be the best thing that you do for yourself. It looks cool, it is fun to use, and it will make you strong.

61 Rafael Säkkijärvelainen November 18, 2011 at 10:20 am

This is going to help me improve my skills as a pianist, since playing piano requires alot of finger/grip strenght. Thank you gentlemen

62 Father Mark November 20, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Dear All,
Vice does have a terrible grip on our society, and it is not one bit manly. Real men work to increase the virtues and have no grip of vice in their lives.

I think the word you want is “vise,” with an “S” not a “C.” Vice should be crushed like a walnut in the vise of virtue.

A book that’s semi-related to these topics is “A Man of Steel and Velvet” by Aubrey Andelin. A real man knows when to pour on the power and when to back off. Most ?all? interview books and body language books strongly argue against the bone crusher handshake.

63 Evilcyber November 22, 2011 at 9:30 am

What also works marvelously for grip strength is towel pull-ups, combining grip training with back training.

64 Jonathan Cooper November 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm

I have seen an old strong man competition with lou ferrigno as the star. In a behind the scenes documentry he says the best forearm/grip excercise he does is to tie a rope to a wooden handle the other end to a weight of self determinable size. then to twist the wooden handle. using the twisting as the only means of raising the weight off the floor. During the competition they even had this as a segment. as the men stood on top of a building and twisted the rope up the side raising the weight to the top.

65 Christian November 26, 2011 at 3:56 pm

I love grip training!
Thick handled barbell work (and thick bar chins!) build a powerful grip in short order.
Take the sleeve off of a barbell, insert a PVC pipe, and then reattach the barbell sleeve. While you may have to cut off a little, the fit should be extremely snug; don’t forget to wrap the pipe with athletic tape and use chalk.. Have fun and use a power rack when you do thick bar work (safety always!)…your grip will go before everything else and the exercises provide great stimulation.

66 Jason November 30, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Old time wrestlers taught me an easy way to train grip; grab a few sheets of newspaper and crumple them up with one hand. Add more and continue. Do it with each hand and spend 5 minutes a day. I wrestled though-out my life and do judo. My grip never fails me.

67 Davorin October 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Brooks Kubik is the man and Dinosaur Training is a classic work that will motivate you like nothing else. At the same time, Rippetoe’s Starting Strength is an invaluable reference on form and carrying out your lifts safely.

I would study Starting Strength first, start lifting and practicing your form. It’s such a great book because it is so deep and informative. Something like 60 pages just on the squat.

After a while, you read Dinosaur Training to gain a new appreciation for what you’re doing, Dinosaur training is like a cultural thing. Starting Strength is your technical thing.

68 Stone November 5, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Incredibly good article! Way to many people ignore just how important having grip strength really is so articles like this is always a great thing. Keep up the good work!

69 Solan November 12, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Great article, and in the right place! Grip strength is what separates a real man from a woman or a bodybuilder. Regardless of his other strength levels, it is the grip that ultimately decides whether that strength is functional. And it is functional strength that marks the man, not gym-only strength, or bloated gym muscles.

70 Tony Mauro December 13, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Check out Hand X Band to train your extensors. I tried the rubberbands & decided there has to be a better way!

71 Jon McShea February 1, 2013 at 1:25 am

This awesome, just picked up a dyano-meter and keen to improve my somewhat average score, lol. Cheers, J.

72 Bannef February 5, 2013 at 12:15 am

Another use (and the reason I found this article) is a stronger grip gives you better control while using tools. I have been trying a lot of DIY work recently, and noticed that I’ve been struggling with certain cutting tools. I’m guessing that’s partially a testament to not buying your lineman’s pliers out of the bargain bin, but it made me think back to my college fitness test, where my lowest score was hand strength. Thank you for this great information.

73 Daniel Son of William May 13, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Rock climbing has to be the best possible way.

74 Bike Mann May 16, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Hand strength does help in a lot of situations and many times w/out thinking about it. Have know of many lean, big handed, strong gripping ppl that have dropped w/ heart attacks around the 55 yr mark because their diet included too much cheese(saturated fat). And others with a gen. balanced diet and crushing grip lasting well into their 80s dying from Alzheimer’s. Balance/moderation in whatever you find to do where it continually rings true.
Get A Grip! and enjoy finding your balance…

75 NJ August 6, 2013 at 9:01 am

I’m irish. I would put any farmer against any weightlifter/rockclimber for hand strength and he will kill them.

76 Chris November 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm

I’m looking for that stronger grip so I can catch a dude’s fist and crush with nothing but pure grip strength, like the big guy from “Of Mice and Men”. Thats the art of manliness right there.

77 Campbell S November 11, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Short answer of how to add grip strength/forearm power: Olympic weighlifting. Forearm and grip strength like Popeye are one of the many benefits. Plus they make women want you, or so I’ve heard.

78 Mike M. November 11, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Can this help with carpal tunnel syndrome?

79 Tony Nguyen December 4, 2013 at 5:00 am

Hi. Thank you for your useful article. I personally agree with the idea that nowadays, everyone wants to get stronger hands to do everything they want. In fact, hands are among the most important parts in our body. This article provides a plenty of knowledge and exercises that help people achieve the dream of getting super strong hands. Once again, thank you for your share!

80 Michael December 31, 2013 at 10:36 am

A link to this article came from a lady after all the guys here failed mightily to open a stuck Mt. Dew bottle.

81 Brent February 18, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Great article & exercises, also try adding the farmer’s walk to your workouts with heavy dumbbells. Set a time or distance goal & try to surpass it in the next workout. It can get very intense and improve your grip, forearms & endurance.

82 Jonathan April 6, 2014 at 5:45 pm

As a professional pianist I have a vested interest in hand strength. My experience is that it is not the objective measurement of our strength that we gain so much as the awareness to access and use our innate strength to it most effective use.

I make a point of not crushing the bones of someone’s hand I am shaking. Gentlemen must learn to be gentle when appropriate. Eye contact, indicating honesty and goodwill, is what matters most.

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