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The Grip of Death
Grip Strength Training

By Kyle

When was the last time you worked your grip to failure, enlisting the use of drop sets, beyond-failure training, and forced reps for your forearms and fingers? People often blame their weak grip for their lack of progress in strength or hypertrophy training of certain body parts or movements. Even though our grip is called upon each and every day under a variety of circumstances, grip training takes a back seat in most training programs.

There are many ways people train their grip. Some people buy grip closers to work their grip during the day so they don't have to put up with it during their training workout. Some do direct grip work on their training day.

Although there isn't a universal exercise that will make the grip problem go away, many people experiment with different exercises and different holds to help them develop better grip strength. Below I've listed some traditional exercises that will help you achieve a mighty grip of death, whether you are an average or an elite trainee.

Farmer Walks:

You can do these a variety of ways. You normally see these being done on TV in the World Strongman Competitions(WSM). First, select two objects of the identical weight(barbells, tri Bars, which work rather well, dumbbells etc.). Then, bend down and pick them up with a firm grip with each hand. The objects should feel somewhat weighty. Walk with them until you reach your desired distance or until you can no longer hold the objects in your hand.

Dead Lift Holds:

Yup, it's exactly what it sounds like!

This exercise can be performed a couple different ways. Some lifters pick the bar up off the ground like a normal dead lift, hold it at the top till they can no long hold the bar, then proceed to dump it. Some set pins up on the power rack to hold the bar so they just unrack it for a total range of motion of an inch or so. I find the second method to be the most productive, because you can properly use more weight to overload the grip faster.

Wheel Barrow Walks:

Got a wheel barrow handy around the house? (I don't think many gyms carry them as exercise equipment, but it wouldn't surprise me at what some gyms do!) Load up the wheel barrow with some rocks, plates, dirt or your training partner (seriously). Once you have got the amount of weight you'd like in the wheel barrow you can do one of two things. You can grip the wheel barrow and stand upright with it and hold it, or you can do it the fun way and walk with it. This trains the grip well, much like farmer walks. This great grip exercise has also lately been touted by John Davies and his Renegade Training group as a great conditioning exercise.

Dumbbell Static Holds:

This exercise is done with one dumbbell that is very heavy to the trainee. It would be best to use an adjustable dumbbell so you can change the degree of resistance. You will hold the dumbbell across your chest but not touching your chest with both hands. Once you have got the starting position guess what you do now? HOLD IT! You hold the dumbbell till you cannot possibly hold it any longer with both hands.

Loaded Hangs:

This would apply to anyone who trains doing pull-ups and things of that nature. If you have a belt that allows you to suspend weight from it to add resistance to your pull-ups this is a very beneficial exercise. Load the belt with a fairly good amount of weight, then simply hang from the bar. You will be supporting your actual bodyweight plus the loaded weight of the belt and weights attached to it, which makes for a great grip exercise.

Other grip exercises:

Rock Carry

Smooth Rock Carry

Plate Pinchers

Wide Palm Brick Holds

The athlete can also use thick bars as a method of training the grip. The thicker bar actually makes it harder to grip. Some gyms may have thick bars available; others may not. Strength and conditioning coaches have found that wrapping a towel around a bar works well. You must make sure the towel will not slide down. The extra padding of the towel makes the lifter grip the bar harder to keep hold of it.

Where in my routine should I do grip work?

A: Id suggest doing the grip work at the end of the week on your very last training day. If you work your grip properly you will definitely feel it the next day in your forearms and all over your arm.

How much should I be doing?

A: I would suggest that you only train your grip one day during the week. As far as sets and reps go, this really depends on the exercise. For Farmer Walks I would do about three walks with it, to the point where my grip fails each time. The ONLY time each exercise should be trained to failure in any strength training program should be when training your grip.

In conclusion, a strong grip is essential for all strength athletes: power lifters, bodybuilders, performance athletes, WSM competitors, and Olympic Weightlifters should all train their grips. Don't allow your grip to be the thing that is holding you back from bettering yourself and your performance with heavy weights. Don't turn to special wrist and bar straps, which actually weaken your grip. Stick to the iron and develop The Grip of Death!

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