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.

[YouTube] Having Some Fun | Week 2: Pt. 2

New video out now! Week 2 part 2. Check out some of my cool edits, write a comment and tell me if you like this style more than the voice overs!

Why we’re afraid to exercise: Soreness

It’s unfortunate that many people are afraid to go to the gym. Hopefully through this blog and my continuing effort to educate people about lifting weights (more exciting content coming soon), I have and will be able to make the gym, lifting weights, and exercise in general a less scary thing.

The saddest part for me, however, is that one of the biggest reasons why people are afraid of lifting weights or dread exercise in general is because they know it’s going to hurt, when it’s the hurt that really should be the biggest motivator for those looking to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Yes, exercising is going to hurt. But it’s a hurt like no other. The hurt shouldn’t be from pain because you’re breaking bones or feeling like your muscles are about to snap. If it is, get help from someone who knows what they’re doing, or go to a doctor. The pain I’m talking about comes from working hard. It’s a soreness and exhaustion that results from your body making changes, getting stronger, and recovering. This shouldn’t be scary, because the only reason why it hurts is because you’re body isn’t used to it and is getting stronger! Your body is telling you: “wow, I haven’t done this in a while” and is shocked. And, for those who do go regularly, it’s your body saying “wow, that was a really tough workout. That hasn’t happened in a while”.

Don’t be afraid of the soreness and exhaustion that comes with working out. Exercising is not meant to be easy. If it was, the whole world would be in shape. The point is that it is difficult and that you are making a deliberate choice to push through the pain to grow stronger and improve your life.

That is why we should actually look forward to the pain associated with working out. It means you did a good job. And the more you do it, the easier it gets and the less you feel the pain. Then, it gets really fun. Because it hurts less, and now, you’ll actually seek out ways in which you can attain this level of soreness again because you want to remember what it feels like and want to grow.

So don’t be afraid to exercise. Yes, it is absolutely, 100% going to hurt. But in a good way. And that’s a good thing. Because it will help you reach the goal of becoming a stronger, more healthier human.

What I’m doing in the gym

Well it’s November, and that means it’s time for a new training program. I’ve been on my previous one for 8 weeks and it’s time to make a change.

My goals for the next 8 weeks are set. And the principal theme of this new program that will carry through until mid December is even lower volume and even heavier weight. This is a 5 day program with 2 days rest that will fall after Day 2 and Day 3, making sure my lower body/hamstrings are recovered for deadlifting and then to ensure my back is recovered for shoulder pressing.

Here’s what I’m doing:

Day 1: Legs 

  1. Deep Squat: 4×3
  2. Walking Dumbbell Lunges: 3×5
  3. Bulgarian Split Squat: 3×5
  4. Romanian Deadlifts: 3×5
  5. Barbell Calf Raises: 3×8

Day 2: Chest & Triceps

  1. Barbell Bench Press: 4×3
  2. Dumbbell Incline Press: 3×5
  3. Dumbbell Decline Press: 3×5
  4. Weighted Dips: 3×5
  5. Dumbbell Reverse Extension: 3×5
  6. Tricep Pushdowns: 4×6

Day 3: Back & Biceps

  1. Deadlift: 4×3
  2. Barbell Bent Over Rows: 3×5
  3. Face Pulls: 4×6
  4. Weighted Pull Ups: 3×5
  5. Weighted Chin Ups: 3×5
  6. Barbell Curls: 3×5

Day 4: Shoulders & Core

  1. Shoulder Press: 4×3
  2. 1 Arm Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3×5
  3. Dumbbell Lateral Raises: 3×5
  4. Barbell Shrugs: 3×5
  5. Cable Crunch: 3×8
  6. Weighted Side Crunches: 3×8
  7. Weight Leg Raises: AMAP

Day 5: Cardio/Yoga/Stretch

Day 5 is going to be different every week, focusing primarily on some sort of cardio workout. However, to recover and maintain flexibility and vitality, this may be substituted for yoga or intensive stretching depending on how my body feels and what kind of recovery and tune ups I may need.


My New Training Program

Just to give some insight into what I’m up to at the gym, below is the program I am following for the next 2 months. I typically change my workout parameters in intervals of 6-8 weeks and I currently just came off of a higher-volume routine during the summer. Now I’m focusing on adding more weight instead of adding more reps. I’m cutting down the volume and focusing on primarily core compound lifts with as much weight as I can while maintaining good form. The goal? To get my body used to lower rep counts again and increase my pound for pound strength and nervous response as much as possible with low volume and heavy weight.

Day 1: Legs & Core

  1. Deep Squats: 2×4 straight into 4×2
    • These two first sets are mainly warm ups for activating my muscles and stabilizers. These first two sets are slow, with a pause at the bottom of the movement. Short rests.
    • Then, I am performing doubles for 4 sets. My rests are about ~2.5 minutes, however for the last set it’s usually lift when ready (LWR)
  2. Dumbbell Step Ups: 4×6 (each leg)
    • Classic DB Step Ups. As heavy as I can go while maintaining good form. Rests ~1.5 – 2 min.
  3. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts: 3×5
    • I use dumbbells here because I tend to get a better extension in my hamstrings. Just a personal preference. Rests ~1.5 – 2 min.
  4. Dumbbell Lunges: 3×5 (each leg)
    • Rests ~1.5 – 2 min.
  5. Leg Raises: 3x As many as possible (AMAP)
    • Short Rests ~45 sec.
  6. Oblique Raises: 2×30 (each side)
    • Short Rests ~45 sec.

Day 2: Chest & Triceps

  1. Bench Press: 2×4 straight into 4×2
    • Same notes as Deep Squats
  2. Dumbbell Decline Fly: 10, 8, 6, 15
    • Follows a 4 set pattern with rep counts above. Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min.
  3. Dumbbell Incline Press: 10, 8, 6, 15
    • Follows a 4 set pattern with rep counts above. Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min.
  4. Heavy Weighted Dips: 3xAMAP
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  5. Dumbbell Scull Crushers: 3×6
    • I use dumbbells just as personal preference. As heavy as I can with good form. Rests ~1.5 – 2 min
  6. Tricep Rope Extension: 3×8
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min

Day 3: Back & Biceps

  1. Deadlift: 2×4 straight into 4×2
    • Same notes as Deep Squats
  2. Barbell Heavy Ground Rows: 4×6
    • Row from the ground and pull the bar up to your nipple line for proper upper back contraction
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  3. Dumbbell 1 Arm Rows: 4×6
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  4. Weighted Pull-Ups: 3xAMAP
    • As heavy as I can while performing a minimum of 6 reps
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  5. Weighted Chin-Ups: 3xAMAP
    • Same notes as above
  6. Barbell Curls: 3×5
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min

Day 4: Shoulders & Core

  1. Barbell Shoulder Press: 2×4 straight into 4×2
    • Same notes as Deep Squats
  2. Dumbbell Arnold Press: 4×6
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  3. Dumbbell Lateral Raises: 3×5
    • Good form is a MUST here
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  4. Barbell Shrugs: 3×8
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  5. Cable Crunch: 3×8
    • Rest intervals ~1 min
  6. Side Cable Pulls (3 Angles): 3×8
    • Rest intervals ~1 min
  7. Medicine Ball V-Ups: 3×15
    • Rest intervals ~1 min
  8. Leg Raises: 3xAMAP
    • Rest intervals ~1 min

Day 5: Cardio

My cardio day will rotate weekly between:

  1. Row/Sprint Medley
  2. 30 minute run @ 70%

Explosive Athletic Leg and Back Routine

Here’s a workout I do every other week instead of a cardio day. The routine focuses on explosive athletic strength in the legs and back, two very important muscle groups for athletes. It’ll also kill your shoulders, too. So here it is:

Start with a dynamic warm-up with sprints, dynamic stretching, and some body weight squats.

The Workout

1. Deep Explosive Squats: 2 sets of 4 reps (medium weight with medium rest intervals) right into 4 sets of 2 reps (as heavy as you can go with long rest intervals focusing on a deep squat with good form)

2. Hang Cleans: 5 x 5 (medium high weight with medium rest intervals)

3. Box Jumps: (Medium High) 8 jumps back to back for 5 sets (medium to long rest intervals)

4. Single Dumbbell Clean: 4 x 6 (high weight with long rest intervals)

5. Rope Slam Medley: 30 slams each – alternating wave, crossover waves, double rope power slam (short to medium rest intervals)

6. Dumbbell Farmers Carry: 3 – 30 yard walks (heavy weight with medium rest intervals)