Pavel Tsatsouline, Spetsnaz fitness instructor who went on to train the Navy Seals, Special Forces and SWAT teams, calls it ‘The Way to Become Stronger Overall’: Improve your Grip Strength! Want to become stronger overall? Here you will find 5 surefire ways, used by professionals, to improve your grip strength.
Not easily convinced you need to improve? Consider some advantages of a more manly grip.
‘Pleased to meet you!’
When first impressions count: Your firm handshake. You are meeting your new boss…..or employee…..or your daughters boyfriend. What impression would you like to leave? The ‘You can treat me like crap’ or ‘Don’t mess with me’ impression? Thought so.
Pavel calls it Irradiation in his book ‘Power to the People‘.
To prove this point: Make a tight fist. You will feel the tension in your hand. Now make a tighter fist. Your forearms will come into play. Now even tighter. You will feel your bicep, tricep and even shoulder engage. The more muscles are under tension and engaged, the more strength you will have where you want it. Next time you deadlift, pull up or any other strength training, concentrate on crushing the bar with your hands and you will get more power overall. You’ll see it works.
‘Do you even lift, bro?’
You lift heavy weights, right? Then you already know that your grip strength is a limiting factor in the amount of kilograms you can lift. How can your body become stronger by deadlifting, if your weak hands are letting to off the bar before you reach your max? Don’t let your hands be the weakest link in strength training. And don’t use sissy wrist straps to cover up your failing grip strength either!
Is your grip strength your Obstacle?
Running obstacle courses? No matter what courses you run: 5k Tough Mudders, 24k Spartan races, Strong Viking or the more demanding OCR championships and old school Dutch Survival Runs. The way to survive multiple combined obstacles with rope work is to…..Hold On! For many, their lack of grip strength makes them turn in their bracelet and quit races. The forearm have just had it by the repeated abuse. Kaput. Go home. Same goes for rock climbers.
Handgun Shooting from your own Ransom Rest
Have you ever missed a pistol shot from a Ransom Rest? Just saying. Create your own Ransom Rest by having forearms of steel. Chris Sajnog, retired Navy Seal, Firearms Instructor and author of the book ‘Navy Seal Shooting’ calls increasing your grip strength the 1 thing that easily improves your accuracy in pistol shooting. Does your life depend on your shot accuracy? Work on your Iron Claws!
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (and thus Mixed Martial Arts)
Every technique in BJJ fails if you cannot get a proper grip on your opponent. Even more important if you are Fighting for your life. Tired of your adversary escaping every your every technique?
Convinced that you need to improve your grip strength, right?
Let’s get to work then! Here are 5 Ways to spectacularly improve your grip strength:
Captains of Crush
These are not the ‘bought at the Chinese bazar, 1000 reps will do nothing’ grippers that your dad used to work out with. Varying in resistance, these are the ‘go to’ grippers for serious athletes.
You can get your Captains of Crush at Iron Mind (cool website dedicated to grip strength training), but Rogue Europe also sells them. I would recommend the Trainer for Warming up and the Number 1 as a first Goal Gripper. Most lifters will struggle to close the number 1 first time around. Full close the gripper 5 repetitions (strength training is low volume), several times per day. Your strength will improve in no time. I went from ‘not able to close’ to several full closes with stronger hand in 1 week.
If your life and/or the life of others depend on your grip strength (LEO, Military, Fireman), work your way up to the number 2.
Hang on a pull up bar with 2 hands for 30 seconds. Too easy? With 1 hand. Too easy? Wrap a towel around the bar and hang from the towel with 2 hands (great for Gi-wearing BJJ fighters). Too easy? 1 Hand. Too easy? Combine any of the above variations with pull ups. Too easy?……You are Superman!!!
Swing your way to ‘Fore Arm Cables’
The 2 handed kettlebell swing is already really good for getting a stronger grip. Really want to make a difference and step it up? Move to heavy weight 1 handed swings. Make sure to do the technique correctly (as with all exercises). Look at the workout we did here..
Use Fat Gripz
Cheap and easy way to turn any bar into a Fat Bar. Athletes have been using Fat Bars forever, but they cost a fortune. Cheap (32 Euro per pair) alternative: Fat Gripz. Not being able to close your hand challenges your grip strength for sure! Just started using these forearm builders and they are awesome. I don’t use them every time, because i cannot yet max lift with these things on. But you will feel the difference right away.
How easy is this? Grab 2 heavy dumbbells or kettlebells and walk around. Too easy? Add Fat Gripz. Too easy? Go heavier!
Keep in mind that you need to warm up your grip muscles before heavy exercise and that you can also overtrain this smaller muscle-group. Don’t forget to stretch and also work on the extenders to keep your hands balanced.
Start training and you will notice the difference right away! CRUSH IT!
Ways to stay ´on the Tip of the Spear´?
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Written by Robin C, Former Dutch SF officer, Operator, 12 years into adapting to civilian life