The Importance of Grip Strength

Do you train to strengthen your grip?

If you answered no, it’s time to start.

Grip strength, basically, one’s ability to make a fist and resist force attempting to open it up, has many benefits in the gym and also in every day life.

Here are 3 reasons why you should be training to improve your grip strength:

It allows you to lift heavier in almost any exercise

Because so many exercises involve holding a dumbbell or barbell, improving your grip strength will allow you to focus more on activating the proper muscles instead of focusing on trying to hold the weight in your hands for dear life.

Every day tasks will become easier

Think about how many things you do on a daily basis that require you to use your grip. From opening up a jar to carrying bags of groceries from the car, your grip is crucial for achieving tasks and promoting functional independence as you age.

Promotes healthy joints

Improving your grip strength will have positive effects on the health of your wrists, and more importantly, your elbows. The elbow joint is extremely prone to injury, so training your forearm and grip muscles will strengthen the surrounding musculature and ease up your tendons to keep the pesky elbow pain away.

So how do you increase your grip strength?

Use more Free weights and fewer machines

Using free weights forces you to use your grip more, therefore strengthening it due to repetitive use. Machines make it easy to isolate specific muscles, but often don’t require a strong grip since gravity is not an opposing factor/force, which is the reason why so many free weight exercises with dumbbells and barbells work your grip and other muscles (hence, free). Here are 2 great exercises that build a strong grip:

1. Deadlifts

Deadlifts are a great way to increase your overall strength, and one of the important muscles that the deadlifts train aside from your back are your forearms, i.e. your grip, since you are holding a heavy barbell as you lift it up and down.

2. Farmer’s Carries

A farmer’s carry is executed by holding two dumbbells of medium to heavy weight down at your sides while in a standing position. From there, you should walk around 10-30 yards at a time, depending on weight, while maintaining an upright posture. The main muscles activated are your forearms and traps, but is a great exercise to incorporate into any functional training program.

Even the smallest muscle groups require big attention and your forearms and grip strength are no exception. Being able to hold onto dumbbells and barbells with more weight, longer, will help develop strength and endurance for functional activities leading to a stronger, healthier, and happier life.

Thankful for the Common Cold

Yes, even getting sick has a positive side.

Before I go any further, I want to clarify that I know most sickness are serious and difficult to deal with, and these are not what I’m addressing in this post. But almost because of that fact alone, there are a few reasons why I am actually thankful for the occasional common cold, and why you should be too.

While annoying, having a cold actually makes you realize how happy you are and how thankful you are when you are in good health. We often times take for granted that most of us have relatively healthy lives, free of the many serious illnesses that millions of people are affected by every day.

The cold is a relatively non-serious infection that gets us to temporarily snap out of this mindset and force us to remember how much we should value our good health and how serious we should be about taking care of our bodies in order to prevent injury and sickness in the future.

Think about it, the last time you got a cold, what did you do? You started drinking lots of water, paid more attention to what you ate, you drank less alcohol, you got to bed early, and sure, you probably took some sort of anti-inflammatory and a bit of NyQuil, but the point is that you immediately started to take care of yourself.

After a week or two of this behavior, your cold was gone.

Now, aside from the reactive OTC drugs you took, if drinking lots of water, eating well, consuming less alcohol, and sleeping more all helped you get rid of sickness, you best believe that taking those measures proactively can help you prevent sickness.

Getting a cold not only makes you realize how much you value not being sick and how you shouldn’t take good health for granted, but it also teaches us how we should live and treat our bodies to help prevent further sickness. Now most of us get rid of the cold and then are back to our old behaviors of a bad diet, less water, more alcohol, and less sleep, but we need to keep these illness curing behaviors in our lives constantly and proactively in order to prevent sickness and ultimately live a healthier, stronger, and happier life because of it.