What is Grip Strength?
Grip strength is often thought of as simply hand strength, and while hand strength is definitely included, there are actually many other things to consider when thinking of grip. First off, grip involves everything from the musculature near the elbow down to the fingertips. It has to be thought of this way because many of the forearm and hand flexor muscles actually originate above the elbow, and anytime a muscle crosses a joint, it will in some way influence it.
As we move downward, the gripping muscles pass through the forearms, the wrists, and into the hands, fingers, and thumbs — and not only through the front of the forearms, but also the back of forearms. This is important to remember. When we look at grip in this manner, we start to see that there are MANY movement patterns that are realized by the lower arm musculature. As we train the lower arms, we must then remember to train all of these movement patterns in order to maintain a suitable balance between the antagonistic muscle groups, such as the flexors and extensors. In fact, many cases of inflammation-related forearm pain such as tendonitis, tendonosis and epicondylitis can arise due to improper training of the forearm muscles or simply neglecting certain muscle groups or movement patterns.
Benefits of a Strong Grip
There are many reasons men should seek to have a strong grip. They range from social reasons, to training reasons, and beyond. Let’s highlight a few.
Stronger Grip = Stronger Handshake. Whether it is right or not, men are often judged by their level of strength and by how strong they seem. Nothing is a better example of this than the need for a strong, hearty handshake. When you shake hands with a man and he looks you in the eye and gives you a solid squeeze back, it makes him seem more confident, dependable, and trustworthy. However, if they hit you with the proverbial “dead fish” handshake, they lose credibility and may even seem slimy and weak.
Ways to Increase Grip Strength
There are many ways to develop your grip strength, beyond just using the equipment shown in the section above. However, it should be noted that while the classic hand and forearm work done and taught in gyms usually includes wrist curls, these really do not have anywhere near as big of an impact as other exercises.
Drop the Straps. In order to start challenging your hand strength and to start building a grip that will enable you to crush other mens’ hands (when so inclined) as well as to produce the lower arm strength that will be a huge asset in other forms of strength and fitness training, sports, and manual labor, the first thing you should do is to drastically reduce the use of lifting straps and other gripping aids in the gym. Sure, when you reach the upper levels of your pulling strength in movements such as deadlifts and rows, by all means strap in so that you can get your repetition goal, but on the lighter sets, there really is no need to use straps.
- Use – What are you going to use the sumo for? Low reps or max reps? For low reps, either is okay. For higher reps or max reps, conventional is the better of the two.
- Flexibility – Do you have the ability to get into the positions needed for the sumo deadlift?