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It's easy to get wrapped up in building your large muscles during off-season training for football. However, one area that you can't afford to overlook is your grip. Grip strength can be the difference maker when making a game winning catch, a fourth-down tackle or a pancake block.
Grip strength is often thought of simply as hand strength, but it actually involves every muscle from your elbow to your fingertips. When you study the anatomy of this region, you see that several muscles act on the hand and wrist. To improve your grip strength, they all must be trained.
A strong grip will also improve the quality of your workouts. You will have greater endurance during grip-intensive exercises, allowing you to do more reps.
Finally, your hands play an important role in football, but they are easily battered and bruised from contact. Training the muscles that contribute to your grip strength will reduce your chance of injury and help you recover faster if you sustain one.
Grip Strength Training for Football
Sets/Reps: 3x10,8,6 (decrease reps with increased tension)
The objective is to grab the grippers and squeeze them shut. Many types of grippers are available at different tensions. Start with an easy gripper and progress to the hardest tension over time.
Sets/Reps: 3x10,8,6 (decrease reps with increase in weight)
Set up two or more plates and hold them at your sides with a pinch grip. Common combinations include two tens, two tens and a five, and four fives. If you can pinch three tens, two 25s or six fives, then you have an excellent grip.
Thick Bar/Towel Grips/Rope Training
Towels, ropes and thick bars can be used to increase the grip challenge of an exercise. Try looping a towel or rope over a bar and perform Pull-Ups (make sure it is a strong towel that won't rip). Do the same to modify any of your horizontal or vertical pulling exercises, such as Rows or Pull-Downs. The added instability in the rope or towel will build a dynamic grip and increase overall extensor and flexor grip strength. You can also buy products like Fat Gripz if you don't want to use a towel.
Key Safety Notes
Since grip training may be new to you, focus on these safety points:
- Start with low intensities. When working with smaller muscle groups, it is important to use appropriate weights that will allow you to focus on activating the muscles.
- Progress and phase the program. Start with low intensity and high reps. Master the exercise before you increase weight.
- Monitor overuse. When starting grip training, you can experience inflammation and tendonitis. If you feel any pain, stop immediately.
- Train the whole lower arm and grip. A well-rounded grip program focuses on both the flexors and extensors through a progression that includes the types of training outlined above.