This post is for you, if you’re someone who’s not very familiar or totally unfamiliar with grip training.
There are four main reasons to improve your grip strength I can sum this article up to: getting better at any physical movement that requires any amount of grip strength, fixing and keeping away pain issues and injuries, looking better as a byproduct of grip training and lastly what I call the “fun factor.”
Let’s elaborate on these.
#1: Having a stronger grip makes all your physical tasks easier.
Even a mundane, physically non-taxing life requires using the hands for some amount regardless of who you are and what you do (save for quadriplegics).
The many different fields of life where you need to use your hands in are as examples:
-Carrying groceries. Do you have to take multiple trips to the shop, because your hands tire up too fast? Or are you able to carry even two or three bags per hand? Open hand strength will help you.
-Moving furniture around your house. Do you have to pay for someone to do it for you because your hands can’t take it?
-Opening jars. Do you have to ask your husband to do it for you since you can’t squeeze the lid hard enough? Or even worse yet, do you ask your wife to do it for you?
-Cleaning your house. Some people’s hands are so weak they tire up from mere mopping and vacuum cleaning. Do you belong to that group of people?
These kind of simple things all require at least a small level of grip strength. If you have a difficult time doing the most simple chores, you’ll be surprised how much easier your life gets with stronger hands.
Take it from me, I was a weakling who couldn’t carry groceries without stopping to rest every fifty meters. Even a Coca-Cola bottle of 1,5 liters hurt my hands when I carried it between my index and middle fingers. My hands used to tire up from carrying a monitor to my home for a few hundred meters.
Today I can do everything I need to do with ease. Your life can become physically much easier than it currently is, too.
How a stronger grip makes your job easier to do depends on what you do for living.
If you’re an IT or other desk job worker, strength gains themselves won’t necessarily improve your performance noticeably. You probably wouldn’t type much better if you could hold a hundred kilos with one hand, right?
However, if you work in a physically taxing profession such as construction, logistics, etc. and you have to carry and support different objects with your hands often and for a long duration at a time, training your grip will definitely help you.
I’ve done construction and gardening work since 2010. Those jobs can be very physically taxing (yes, even gardening), especially the longer hours you work for.
My personal examples include, but aren’t limited to:
-Swinging and holding a sledgehammer. I believe most construction workers have had to use one at some point in their career. While technique does matter, the leverage your hands have against the sledgehammer works against you. In addition, the position you have to swing it from can be horribly unergonomic.
-Pushing a wheelbarrow. How much can one of those weigh full of gravel, bricks or stones? Even dozens of kilos. When you can support the same amount of weigh easily with your hands the task gets suddenly much easier.
-Carrying stones with your hands. This requires open hand strength. Again, when your hands are strong enough to bear the stones in the first place your work will become much easier.
Your sports practice:
If your sport requires any level of grip strength, training it will improve your performance.
As all of those of you who also train in any grappling sport surely know, you have to hang in each others sleeves, hems, collars, wrists, ankles and necks for even several minutes at a time. Excess tension will tire up and can break your fingers.
If you’re a powerlifter or a weightlifter you know that the level of your grip strength can make or break you. One needs much more of it to pull 200 kilos instead of 100 off the floor, even with a mixed grip. The same is true for farmer walks too.
The point is that any sports practice that requires the use of hands becomes easier with improved grip strength. The better your body moves in one way, the better it can potentially move in other ways too. Stronger hands make your body stronger.
The benefits of grip training are not only about becoming capable of exerting X amount of force with your hands in movement Y, which brings us to the next reason.
#2: Grip training can solve and prevent pain issues and injuries in your hands and the rest of your body
Circumstances might force use to overuse, underuse, misuse and disuse our hands, which can lead to acute or chronic pain.
Those pain issues could range anywhere from your fingertips to your elbows or worse, affect your whole lower arms.
The solution isn’t to limit (disuse) your movement, but to find what isn’t moving in your hands and then starting to move it.
When you move in ways that are good for your body, your pain decreases and ultimately goes away completely.
Having above-average strength in your hands in the first place makes you less prone to and can even prevent pain issues and injuries in them, because the stronger a muscle is, the less tension it needs to exert the same amount of force.
As with any other body part, the less tension you move your forearms with, the less tension your other body parts move with and the less tension there is in your body, the less likely you are to injure yourself from change in alignment caused by excess tension.
Remember, any movement that’s good for your body is corrective movement- whatever it is that needs correction.
#3: Stronger hands = better looking forearms = aesthetically a more balanced, better looking body (looks matter!)
Symmetry is universally aesthetic. Thus, building a reasonable amount of muscle on your forearms gives your body a more balanced look.
The way you look influences how people perceive you. What if your arms looked as strong as the rest of your body?
For example, which man would women rather choose, a skinny man or a well-built man? All other factors being equal, which applicant would an employer hire, the one who looks strong or the one who looks weak?
“But Tomas, training my grip more than once a week just to make an impression on other people seems very farfetched.”
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, grip training requires dedication, just like any other form of training.
That being said, you shouldn’t train your hands (or anything else for that matter) primarily for other people, but for yourself.
Sizewise, you don’t have to build your forearms to extreme measures like Ronnie Coleman or Dorian Yates have.
In means of strength you don’t need to take it to the extremes like I and some other strongmen do by bending steel and buying all kinds of esoteric grip equipment I have, either.
What about women who want to improve their hand strength and health and the way their forearms look? Wouldn’t muscular forearms make members of the fairer sex less attractive?
This is a very good and reasonable question.
Fear not! Unless women juice up like Gabrielle Garcia or Jill Mills, they don’t need to fear having their forearms grow overly large, because women’s bodies produce much less testosterone.
#4: Grip training can be a really fun activity
This reason is highly subjective, stemming from my personal experience with both competitive and non-competitive circles.
It all started back in the 2011 when I found grip sports through a legendary strongman named Adam T. Glass and was hooked right into it ever since.
What has made grip training “fun” to myself is the amount of movements one can perform with his hands being so abundant that becoming bored with them is almost impossible.
Only your imagination, the tools available for lifting and the amount of ways your wrists and fingers can move are the limit- and those limits barely exist.
You can lift weights off the floor for maximum weight, reps or time with many different tools, such as barbells, dumbbells, vertical bars, rolling handles, sandbags and even anvils. The list goes on and on.
You could pick weights up and walk around with them, as in farmer walking. There’s an almost infinite amount of pull-up variations.
I train many movements I never even need in real life, such as half-a-penny, but doing it feels fun and makes me happier.
Concerning what I told you about not having to train your hand strength to extreme level, you don’t have to become a competitive grip athlete either to have fun.
You can find what’s yours to do and what’s the “fun factor” with grip training by putting it to the test.
Have you considered starting grip training, or have you already experienced the benefits that came with it? Do you have any questions or comments on this topic? You’re welcome to drop them below!
To infinity and beyond,