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Wrist Strengthening Exercises and why you Need Better Grip Strength

Hey, guess what…

I bet you didn’t know this.

Your grip strength plays a vital role in your longevity.

Huh?

That’s right.

According to a recent studies, improving your grip strength boosts your mortality.

From 14 studies (including 53,476 participants) that dealt with grip strength, the death rate among the weakest people was 1.67 times greater than among the strongest people, after taking age, sex, and body size into account. [ref]

But there’s more…

When it comes to pulling exercises, your grip strength is what I like to call your bottle neck – it is the weakest link in your chain of strength. Without strong wrists, strong hands and an overall strong grip, you are limited in what you can lift and what you can pull.

But there is some good news.

Improving your grip strength can drastically improve your overall upper body strength.

It comes down to a phenomena dubbed as irridation.

Irridation simply states that you are able to contract a muscle to a much greater extent if you also contract the muscles that surround it.

So, through irridation, improving the strength in your hands and wrists plays a key role in improving the strength of your upper body.

But how do we go about improving grip strength? What wrist strengthening exercises can we use to achieve this?

I got some good stuff for ya…

Supplementary Wrist Strengthening Exercises

These supplementary wrist strengthening exercises are meant to be done within your workout. It’s best to do them on the days you perform any sort of pulling movements (i.e. chin-ups, deadlifts, curls, etc.).

Wrist Rollers

This is a classic wrist strengthening exercise that requires a wrist roller. A wrist roller is comprised of a short stick (or rod), a rope and a plate (weight of your choice). With one end of the rope attached to the middle of the stick and the other end to the plate, all you do is hold the stick straight out in front of you and use your wrists to roll the string around the stick. If you’re completely lost, check out this video.

Make sure you change up which direction you roll the stick in. You can roll it away from you or towards you to challenge both your wrist extensors and flexors.

Dumbbell Hex Hold or Plate Holds

These exercises are more for improving the strength of your fingers than your wirsts. But remember that by strengthening every facet of what constitutes your grip, you are strengthening that chain and eliminating the bottle neck.

Grab a dumbbell and grab it by its end (the really wide part). Obviously you’ll have to use a weight that you can get your hand over. Once you do, simply hold it for as long as you can.

[Image Source: T-Nation]

You can also grab a few plates, slap them together and use your fingers to hold them together for as long as humanly possible.

Grip Strength Finishers

Grip strength finishers are wrist strengthening exercises that you would do at the end of your workout. They’re designed to completely fatigue the muscles you use to grip objects, so you would never use them before any sort of pulling exercises.

Grip Strength Finisher 1 – Dumbbell Hold

This one is simple enough. Grab yourself a set of heavy dumbbells and simply hold them by your side for as long as you can.

Make sure you stay near a rack or stand in an open area so you can drop the weights safely when you need to.

Grip Strength Finisher 2 – Supinated Barbell Hold

This is an intense grip strengthening exercise. Load a barbell in the squat rack and have it set up so it sits by your thigh level (for safety). Grab the barbell with your palms facing up (supinated grip), retract your shoulders back, keep your chest up and look forwards. Now hold that bar for as long as you can. Feel the burn baby.

The reason we go for a supinated grip is because it does a better job of activating the muscles in the forearms and in the back.

With the grip strength finishers, you want to always try to improve your hold times. Always look to beat your previous time. That’s how you maximize your grip strength.

There you have it.

If you want to improve your lifts (and possibly extend your life), add these wrist strengthening exercises into your routine. Just prepare for that burrnnn!

George Super BootCamps - June 1, 2012

So by extension, would you be likely to live longer if you only trained your grip, and not the rest of your body?

That seems to be the thrust of your first few paragraphs, but I suspect you don’t really believe that. It’s one of those ‘correlation is not causation’ things. Grip strength is just a convenient measure of whole body strength, and it would make sense that those who keep their strength high would also have healthy bodies.

I personally find that some serious deadlift and pullup training is all that we need to do to massively increase strength, especially when I teach the Pavel method of irridation…

My 2 pennies worth,
Keep up the good work,
George

    Test - June 11, 2012

    Hey George, of course there’s more to increasing your longevity than just improving your grip strength. I was just using the study to showcase the importance of grip strength since many of us simply ignore it. And I agree that many of the standard pulling exercises are more than enough to build that necessary grip strength. I just wanted to present some supplementary exercises. Thanks for your comment.

Getting in Shape With a Battling Ropes Workout (Tabata Protocol Style) - June 30, 2012

[…] that you have everything in place, it’s time to test it out. Make sure you have a tight grip and begin swinging your arms around to creates waves. There are three waves we are going to focus […]

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