How to Improve Grip Strength - The Top Exercises To Do
Grip strength is integral to everyday life, but it’s not something many of us focus on when it comes to exercise and fitness. Outside of grip focused sports like grappling and climbing it’s easy to neglect, and in doing so we’re missing out on so many benefits.
The Swifty Fitness double-ups give you the perfect opportunity to train and improve your grip strength in a whole number of different ways. Grip strength training doesn't need to be something that just elite athletes focus on, it has positives for us all!
Benefits of Grip Strength
Practically every sport involves grip strength in one way or another, and even those that don’t directly (running, swimming etc) can benefit from strong arms and upper body strength. If you just clench your fist now and feel the muscles working you get an idea of how many different parts of your arm and body are moving. Think of ‘grip training’ as the umbrella term for a wealth of health benefits in your whole upper body!
This leads to one of the key benefits of grip strength – that it lays the foundation for so much else in your body. For so many sports your hands are the first point of contact to your apparatus, be it holding a racket or bat, grabbing onto an opponent or throwing a ball, so it stands to reason that you’ll want good hand strength.
It’s not just about getting strong hands though, grip strength training leads to greater shoulder stability, better upper body muscular endurance, and quicker injury recovery – to name just a few benefits!
Grip is seldom thought of in workouts but the more you think about your day the more you realise how often you need an element of grip strength. Take out any grip strength and there’s not a lot we can achieve in a day.
Conversely, if you imagine you have optimum grip strength then you will be able to achieve a lot more without fatigue! From banal tasks like bringing in the shopping and moving stuff around the home to sport-specific tasks like being able to train for longer. Grip strength has also been found to be quite a good signifier of overall muscular strength and endurance!
It’s clear it’s important so the question is how to improve our grip strength?
How to Improve Grip Training
As with any type of fitness, the way you approach grip training should be tailored to your desired outcome. Fortunately, our Double-Ups are very versatile at helping you improve grip strength so are ideal for those of us starting from square one as well as some seasoned pros.
For a quick overview of the double-ups watch our intro video –
A major benefit of the double-ups is that thanks to their webbing straps and karabiners when they’re connected to other equipment there’s no locked fixing between the two things. Rather the double-ups are hanging, simulating a sort of joint.
This means even with the most basic of exercises our bodies are constantly making micro-adjustments to stay steady and holding on to the equipment. You’re probably not even aware you’re doing them, but they have positive impacts on your overall grip strength that you’ll feel the more you go on!
To make improvements we need to give ourselves a rounded workout. Like with any other time at the gym if you just focus on one exercise you’ll get good at that exercise... and not a lot else. Variety is the key, and grip training is no exception, so can we try to help us achieve this?
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Exercises for Grip Strength
To get down to specifics we’ll focus on three of the main types of grip and show how you can use your double-ups to test yourself!
Support Grip is sort of ‘grip endurance’, it’s concerned with the ability to hold on to an object or hang from something for extended periods.
The main support grip exercise is called the Dead Hang. It involves you grabbing onto a chin-up bar and holding it for as long as you can. The double-up TALL are best for this exercise as they can be hung horizontally. Simply connect them to a bar from either end so it’s hanging horizontally, grab on and hold for as long as you can!
You can vary this exercise by mixing up pull up grips – chin-up grip, pull up grip, mixed grip, or even one-handed if you’re feeling confident. Alternatively, you can do the same hold but with your arms flexed, as if you’ve gone to do a chin up and held it at the top of the move.
Another popular support grip exercise is the Farmer’s Walk. It’s a straightforward exercise that’s typically done with dumbbells but can easily be adapted to use with double-ups.
The premise of the exercise is simple – pick up some weights and walk back and forth until your grip can’t hold on anymore. It sounds easy, but can be an absolute killer and you can try a few different variations with the double-ups to give yourself a full grip workout.
We’d recommend either of the pairs of double-ups for this – shorties or talls. It’s best to be working both sides of your body at once to avoid any imbalances. For the talls connect the weights to either end and get walking!
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For the shorties you can either choose to hold them upright or try to hold them horizontally with the weight pulling one end down, this will cause more strain on the arm on the opposite side the weight is facing, so you can tailor the exercise to the result you hope for!
Because the strapping will cause the weights to swing around slightly as you walk your muscles will constantly be making micro-adjustments to keep hold. This mimics functional movements that you’ll feel the benefits of day to day – think walking with shopping bags!
Pinch grip is grip strength without using your palm. It’s the grip between your thumb and fingers and is also one of the most neglected elements of grip/forearm strength.
The top exercise to work your pinch grip is a simple Pinch Lift. This involves lifting weight using only your fingers and thumb. We’d recommend the shorties for this exercise because they have a clear end without a hook, meaning you can comfortably get your fingers and thumb into a good position.
Connect a weight to one end, grab the double-up and lift, easy! You can try a variety of different lift types and positions to keep it fresh, as long as only your fingers and thumb are holding on. You could alternatively try it with some resistance bands.
As an alternative exercise, you could try a variation on a bodyweight row utilising your pinch grip. The beauty of this exercise is that you are the weight you’re working with.
Connect the double-ups to some equipment, start off standing and leaning backwards so your arms are outstretched and you’re pinching onto the end of the double-ups. Slowly pull your weight up to more or less standing, then slowly lower yourself back down.
As you get more confident you can adjust the position of your feet and lean back further, challenging your grip more.
Again the shorties would be best for this thanks to their smooth side, but you could also achieve the same results with the talls pair. With a tall pair, you can experiment with various grips on the other end too for more variation. Adding the two joints to the equipment gives a whole new element of instability and movement that’s great for giving your grip a challenging and rounded workout.
Crush grip is the grip between your fingers and palm. It’s perhaps the simplest element of grip strength and what most people think of first when discussing grip. It can essentially be boiled down to how hard you can grip something.
The best way to test this is to do a vertical lift with enough weight that it will force you to give all your grip effort to lift. All our double-ups can be used for this exercise.
Simply attach some weights to one end of them and, with the double-up vertical, try and lift the weight. By holding it vertical it’s purely your crush grip strength that is holding the weight up and it gives you some leeway to keep hold should the double-up slip a bit.
Another option to test your crush grip to use the double-up talls horizontally and lift weights almost like a deadlift. Deadlifts on their own are a good way of testing your grip but where we deviate from a regular deadlift to focus on our crush grip though is at the top of the lift. When you’ve lifted your weight hold it for a few seconds and focus purely on gripping the bar as hard as you can, then lower safely.
By testing your crush grip at the very top of the exercise your muscles are already fully engaged and it adds an extra level of overload to the movement. To make sure you’re focussing on the crush element rather than the deadlift use a moderate or lower weight than you usually would when doing this.