With good grip strength you can train more effectively
We train the arms, legs, abdomen, and back. In other words, the whole body. But what many neglects are the hands. The grip strength is fundamental in many sports, but it also plays a decisive role in strength training. It allows you to train more effectively.
Grip strength determines life expectancy
It was a while more precisely in 2010 when a British study caused a worldwide sensation. Researchers had found out that life expectancy can be calculated from the power of a handshake. The stronger the grip, the healthier and longer you live. But the expected long life should not be the only reason to train the 30 or so muscles needed for a firm handshake.
30 muscles but no one in the fingers
The unique thing about the hand: There are no muscles at all in the fingers themselves. The upper part has a total of 22 muscles. These include the muscles of the ball of the thumb, the middle hand and the ball of the little finger. Then there are the muscles of the forearm, without which many hand movements would not be possible.
The grip strength is decisive in many sports
The grip strength is of decisive importance for performance in many sports. In rowing, kayaking and canoeing, gymnastics, and climbing, in most ball sports, even in football for throwing in and, of course, in athletics for shot put, discus, hammer, and javelin throwing and pole vaulting. But it is just as crucial in strength training. You have to be able to hold dumbbells and barbells or the handles of weight training machines with your hands, as well as kettlebells, ropes, or resistance bands. If the grip strength is too weak, you will not be able to reach your full potential.
There are three types of grip strength
- The best known is the squeezing force. On the one hand, you need it to do nonsensical things, such as crushing a can or an uncooked potato. On the other hand, much more importantly, to do pull-ups or break a barbell.
- The second type is grip strength. It would help if you had this to squeeze a massive object between your thumb and fingers. You can test this by gripping two barbell plates from above, squeezing them together, and trying to lift them. Two ten kilo discs are already good performance. Only very few people can lift 20 kilos. Caution: If you want to try this, make sure you stand broad-broken so that the weight plates don’t fall on your feet!
- The third type is grip strength endurance. That is the most important for fitness. As a rule, you will always do several repetitions of exercises where your grip strength is essential. But gripping strength endurance also plays a unique role in popular functional fitness workouts, such as the Farmers Walk or the Sledgehammer.
The physical factors
The genetic make-up and the current strength of the gripping muscles are the decisive factors. Clear advantages are enjoyed by tall people, who usually also have larger hands and longer fingers. But no one should underestimate the palm. A wider hand has more contact with the object being gripped and can therefore exert more force. As women are, on average, slightly smaller, they are at a disadvantage in this respect. In Olympic weightlifting, the officials have reacted to this. The barbell bars for women have a three millimeter smaller diameter.
The grip force can be trained well
Here is a series of exercises to improve the strength of your grip.
- Farmer’s Walk. For this, you need heavy dumbbells or kettlebells. Take these in both hands and try to walk at least ten meters with them. You can also work with one hand, but then you must pay attention to your posture.
- One-armed passive hang: You put yourself in the chin-up position on a sufficiently high bar, but only grab the bar with one hand and leave the chin-up out. In this hanging position, try to stay as long as possible.
- Deadlift with instep and comb handle. Grip the barbell bar with one hand so that the outside of the hand faces forward and the other hand so that the inside of the hand faces forward. You can extend the exercise by lifting the barbell and keeping it static as long as possible. But make sure you have a good posture.