Improving grip strength

It doesn’t get much more manly than a good hard handshake. In this post, I’ll detail a few easy changes to your training, that’ll get your hands stronger in a hurry. I’m not talking about competing in gripping competitions or armwrestling at all. The goal here is not dropping max deadlifts and adding a bit of daddystrength to your handshake.


Before starting out, there are a few very important points to make:

  • Slow and steady! No more than 1-2 times a week of concentrated gripwork to begin with. Building up the ligaments take time. Rotate exercises.
  • If you’re serious about training your grip, invest in some pre-/rehab tools for the hands – Ironmind have a good selection.


Look here for inspiration – there are tons and tons of exercises.

There are many different kinds of gripwork, with different applications. Most people seek static grip strength, to aid their DL for example. While training pinch by gripping plates and crush with grippers will have some carry-over, the best way to get better at any one thing, is usually to train it specifically. Adding to that, I’ve found that training with grippers can be good for hypertrophy and strength on the grippers, they seem to do very little for other aspects of grip strength. Similarly, I’ve found that any other kind of grip training has very limited carry-over to grippers. Bottomline: grippers are a somewhat parallel universe to other grip training – I wouldn’t prioritize it myself.

On to some exercises that’ll get your grip up to speed:

Exercises that require little equipment:

Towel chins – easy, cheap and GOOD. Should be on everybody’s short list. Works with a rope as well or as rope climbs.

Static hold/hang from the chinning bar. Work up to about a minute and start adding weight from there. Will stretch the lats nicely too. Can be combined with towels.

Farmer’s walk – grab to heavy DBs/KBs and go for a stroll.

Exercises that require a bit more equipment:

Anything with a fatbar or FatGripz. Can be improvised with towels around a bar. Wearing work gloves also works.

Kettlebell snatches – you’re opening and closing the hand while throwing around a KB.
Rope climbs as mentioned earlier. As a bonus these will work the gunz nicely.
Hand over hand pulls using a rope and a sled.

Exercises that are a waste of time:

Wrist curls – why not train your grip strength instead?

Grippers. It’ll get expensive real fast and it’s hard to progressively overload. If I wanted to be good at grippers I’d get the Vulcan gripper which is adjustable. Though CoC is the golden standard, they’re expensive and not adjustable.

Summing up:

  • Add in an exercise with a grip twist a couple of times a week. This could be doing your warmup (or preferably back-off) sets of chins with towels and/or doing farm’s walk every Saturday (shirtless in the sun, douchebag style).
  • Don’t go all out from day 1.
  • Ropes, sandbags and other odd objects put a huge demand on the hands – this is good.
  • Leave the wristcurls and the grippers to the specialists (arm wrestlers and hand strength buffs).
  • If you want to show off at BBQs learn how to tear a deck of cards. It’ll take most people a few months of training to get there.

6 thoughts on “Improving grip strength

  1. What are your thoughts on grip strength for football? Is it important? And wich grip excercises have most carry-over to football?

    • Hey Daniel
      As with pretty much any sport, stronger hands means better performance. How about being better at holding on to the ball? Stripping the ball? Grabbing opponents? Tackling? Yeah, thought so. 🙂
      Towel chins, farmer’s walk and the occasional fatbar work should do the trick.

        • True.
          Those few exercises will strengthen your hands without affecting your training too much though. For me that would be key – to add a little something here and there that’ll make a given exercise a little bit better. Afterall weight training is GPP – you’re also training your grip when you’re out on the field.

Leave a Reply