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.

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.