January 05, 2018


So, you want to build vice-like grip strength? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Incorporate the following grip strengthening exercises and principles into your training and before you know it you may be able to crush an empty soda can with your bare hands!

All kidding aside, a grip full of power and strength is within reach for you - as long as you put in the effort, of course.

A Quick Word About Wrist Straps

Simply put, these need to be earned. They do not come standard with your gym membership, despite what some may think.

If you can’t deadlift at least twice your bodyweight and do 12-15 strict full-range pull-ups then you shouldn’t even look at a wrist strap.

Think about it, your wrist/grip strength is a built-in governor by your body. If your grip is the limiting factor in the reason you can’t perform a certain movement, then the solution is not to mask that weakness with wrist straps as it will most certainly lead to an injury at some point. Your weakest link will still be your weakest link.

The solution? Improve your wrist/grip strength and make it one of your strong points!

The great thing is it’s actually pretty simple (but not easy)…

Here are 4 ways to increase your grip strength:

#1 -  Lift Heavy Stuff

This is pretty straightforward. Whether you're in need of a training reminder or overhaul, make lifts such as deadlifts, cleans, pullups, chin-ups, object pulls and stones a regular part of your training.

Work in lower (3-6) rep ranges. Not only will this improve your grip strength, it will explode your overall strength and lean muscle mass. After all, what good is powerful grip strength if you can’t do anything with it?

Also, climbing and pulling almost anything will help build up that hand, wrist and overall grip strength. Incorporate this wherever and whenever you can.

At the playground with your kid? Hang and swing on the jungle gym. Have access to a climbing rope? Use it

You get the idea. Don’t overthink, just do it when you can in addition to your regular gym training.

#2 – Utilize Imperfect Tools 

Example: Towel Pull- Up

Here, we combine an ordinary pull-up and towel into a grip-strengthening powerhouse of a movement. Just make sure the towel you use doesn’t have any pre-existing tears in it. You don’t want it to rip as you’re blasting out reps.

How many can you do?

This exercise is insane for real world grip, hand and wrist strength!

There are two versions shown in the video above, the 1 towel version and the 2 towel version. Start with the 1 towel pullup and work your way up to 2 towels.

If you can perform 15 strict reps with two towels you’re in exclusive company. 

#3 – Use Fat Bars

Fat bars are just that, fatter than a typical bar or attachment.

Example: Fat Bar Cable Curls

What’s great about fat bars is you can use them on almost any exercise whether you are pulling, pressing, curling or pushing.

Of course, most gyms don’t have specific fat bar equipment (if yours does, consider yourself fortunate and make sure you utilize them!) but simply wrap a towel around the bar and you’ve got yourself a fat bar that is also an imperfect tool!

All that’s needed is a little American ingenuity.

There are also a variety of portable fat grips that you can buy that attach to a standard barbell or dumbbells and instantly convert them into fat bars! A few examples can be found here and here.

Just the act of gripping a fatter bar is enough to cause a positive training stimulus for most.

What’s cool about the fat bar cable curl show above is it also places a very unique training stimulus on your biceps. As with all curls, be sure to maintain a neutral wrist position throughout to maximize biceps stimulation.

The reason we show a curling movement instead of a pulling movement is to illustrate that you can incorporate grip training into almost anything you do. 

#4 – Challenge Your Grip Strength Against Time

It’s not just about if you can lift or hold something, but also for how long. If your grip fatigues quickly, what good is it?

Perform these grip challenges at the end of your workout and outlast your competition!

Example #1 – Plate Hold

Can you make it to 60 seconds? How about 2 minutes?

A word of caution, Watch out for your feet! Don’t drop the plates, do your best to set them down gently and safely.

Example #2 – Upside- Down Hex Dumbbell Hold

A new use for hex dumbbells!

These get very slippery very quickly, but also build up your hand (and finger) strength quickly as well. Due to the unique shape of the hex dumbbell, these really deliver in an awesome way.

So there you go – a complete grip training roadmap to turn your hands into vices and your forearms into steel rods!

Thank you to AJ Williams, Thomas Gibson, Arthur Gonzales for their video demonstrations.

Follow AJ on Instagram, Thomas on Instagram and Arthur on Instagram.

The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of USPlabs or any employee thereof. Examples used within this article are only examples. USPlabs is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the authors of this article.  Authors may have been remunerated by USPlabs.

The information provided in this article, as well as this web-site blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice for any condition. Always consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. By reading this disclaimer, you hereby agree and understand that the information provided in this column is not medical advice and relying upon it shall be done at your sole risk.

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