How To Increase Your Forearm & Grip Strength With 5 Simple Exercises
Don’t let your grip be the weak link in your system...
When I started lifting I wish I follow Arnold’s advice from his book the Encyclopaedia of Modern Bodybuilding, a book that should be on the mantelpiece of any serious gym-goer. Arnold advises not to use lifting straps when performing back exercises (pulling based exercises such as pull-ups and rows) as you’ll be cheating your forearm and grip development which you’ll regret later as your deadlift and other compound lifts progress.
Don’t get me wrong, lifting straps are a fantastic aid when setting a new PB on your deadlift or when you’re grinding out that least heavy set of your bent over rows… but for day to day training I recommend you avoid all aids including straps and belts.
A 2011 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that hand-grip strength is a good predictor of total-body muscular strength and endurance.
When it comes to martial arts, pro sports and bodybuilding grip strength is often neglected yet strong grip strength will give you that edge in your training or chosen discipline.
Increase Your Grip Strength By Training With Thicker Bars
The thicker the bar the more forearms and grip comes into play. Now, not too many gyms have thick bars are they’re quite pricey. A few cheap options to replicate thick bar training are to wrap a towel around your barbell or pull-up bar you’re using to increase the thickness or to pick up a pair of FatGripz which work fantastic (check out my review here) and are relatively inexpensive.
You’ll find with your pull-ups, bench press, rows or any exercise you opt to perform utilizing a thicker bar that you’ll need to reduce the weight or the number of reps you’re performing to begin with as it is deceivingly more difficult when the additional grip and forearm strength comes into play.
Increase Your Grip Strength By Performing Plate Pinches
Plate pinches are an old school, simple and proven affective means of increasing your grip strength. Grab two Olympic plates (I opt for the 10lbs plates) and pinch them together back to back between utilizing one hand. Hold for as long as possible before taking a brief rest and performing another couple of sets. You should be aiming for a weight with which you can hold the pinch for between 30 and 60 seconds.
Increase Your Grip Strength By Performing Towel Chin-Ups
Towel chin-ups (or pull-ups) are an absolute killer. I’ve only ever seen two people perform a set of these in person and both those guys had some of the most solid (and vascular) forearms I’ve seen. Want an unbreakable grip? Do towel chin-ups.
In order to do these bad boys grab your gym towel and wrap it over your pull-up bar. Do not tie any knots or twist the towel in any way. Now, grip onto the towel using your grip of choice (palms forward, palms away or neutral hammer grip) and perform as many chin-ups as you can before your grip fails.
Utilizing regular form pull yourself as high up as you can before lowering yourself back to a dead-hang position.
Increase Your Grip Strength By Hanging
Bodyweight exercises are fantastic for functional fitness and strength, so it comes as no surprise that one of the best grip strengthening exercises is the bar hang.
This one couldn’t be simpler – grab onto your pull-up bar or similar and hang – supporting your entire bodyweight for as long as possible (aim for in excess of a minute per set). Once you’ve mastered the hang it’s time to hang using one arm. Grip strengthening hand tools can’t replicate the amount of weight you’re supporting which is why I much prefer these style of exercises for functional grip strength.
Increase Your Grip Strength By Carrying Heavy Things For Distance (Farmers Walks)
The farmers walk is a simple, Spartan method of increasing your grip strength. Choose your heavy weapons of choice (I recommend either a pair of dumbbells or a pair of kettlebells) and walk for distance while keeping your core tight. If you’re performing these in the gym walk from one side of the gym to the other and back as many times as possible until your grip strength can no longer support the heavy weight. That’s set one.