It should be noted that your grip strength is just as important as any other type of strength you intend to build.
It may seem insignificant, but with a weak grip you will limit your progress on most of your pull exercises.
Another contributing factor is your forearm strength. While you’ve probably never heard somebody talk about ‘forearm day’ – because they don’t. You should still be mindful of the fact that your forearm strength also contributes towards your grip strength.
Grip strength exercises
The best grip strength exercises are ones that require you to squeeze things in your hands, pinch with your fingertips, grip, hold, extend your hands or flex your wrists.
Farmers walks are a great grip strength exercise because they combine squeezing with gripping and holding, with the added bonus of getting some extra cardio in. Who doesn’t love an efficient exercise?
Dumbbell pinches: These are simply pinching the end of dumbbell with your fingertips and holding the weight for as long as you physically can.
Plate pinches: Similar to the above, except this time you pinch a plate and not a dumbbell.
Wrist curls: This is quite literally ‘curling’ with your wrists. These work nicely when done from behind with the barbell behind your back and wrists facing outwards.
Hangs: Simply hang from a pull up bar for as long as your grip can stand it.
Let’s talk about deadlift grip since it is the most common exercise that fails on grip strength.
There are three types of deadlift grip:
- Overhand grip
- Switch (mixed) grip
- Hook grip
Generally a lifter will progress from overhand to switch and then onto hook grip.
From a beginners perspective, your best approach is to work the overhand grip as long as you can and move on when you really can’t grip the weight any longer.
Grip failure will happen naturally as you lift heavier so you won’t be able to use overhand grip forever.
But before you progress to switch grip, try using chalk to help you maintain the overhand grip method.
When you move to switch grip do the same as above. Go for as long as you can using chalk and then progress if you need/want to.
Many lifters will find that they are happy moving maximum weight through switch grip and that is absolutely fine.
Hook grip is an advanced lifters grip and it helps lifters to move even more weight. Try it to see if it will work for you. The thing to know about hook grip is that it takes time to get used to because it stings like a mother…
Grip strength last resort
Your last resort which will actually do nothing for your grip strength but is everything when it comes to deadlifting maximum weight, is to use straps.
Of course, moving maximum weight is far more beneficial than building your grip strength. But note that you should only resort to this option when you have exhausted your switch grip potential at the very least.
Strictly speaking, you could use straps sooner, but you should try not to because building your grip strength is beneficial, not just on your lifts, but also in everyday life.
Grip strength training you can do anywhere
If you want to work on your grip strength outside of the gym you can get yourself some crush grippers. They’re small enough to fit into your handbag and you can use them anywhere without looking too weird.
Grip strength conclusion
Hopefully by now you can see the importance of grip strength and how you can improve yours.
With regards to where you can place these exercises in your workout; they will be best placed towards the end.
If you train grip regularly enough (at least a couple of times a week), you will, over time, see a substantial difference in your performance on your pull lifts.
And at the end of the day, who doesn't want to lift more weight?