Getting a Grip on CrossFit

Before you embark on a CrossFit program, there is one thing you must master—grip strength. Perform this 4-exercise grip workout.

Downward tuck hold

There's no denying the impact CrossFit has made on the fitness world. To outsiders it looks intimidating, even painful. Yet everyone seems to have at least dabbled in it. (Visit STACK's CrossFit page for more information.)

When performed correctly under expert supervision, CrossFit can bring your training to a whole new level. But a common mistake many people make is going into their first WOD (Workout of the Day) completely unprepared.

I'm going to be honest here. No amount of training will allow you to dominate your first time. CrossFit workouts are meant to challenge you both mentally and physically, so if you are a newbie, it's going to show.

Before you step onto a box for your first session, there is one thing you must have mastered—grip strength. (See Benefits, Uses and How-To of Grip Training.)

The Importance of Grip Strength for CrossFit

Grip strength is one of physically taxing aspects of any WOD. Movements with bars, rings, kettlebells and Olympic Lifts are prominent in CrossFit. If you can't hold onto the bar, you'll never break through plateaus or achieve gains. So before your first visit, use the following exercises to prepare.

Grip Strength Workout

Ed. note: This workout uses extremely heavy weights and advanced lifts. Make sure to use correct form and have a trained spotter on hand before you attempt it.

Loaded Farmer's Carries

Sets/Distance: 3x100 yards (rest one minute between sets)

  • Grab two heavy kettlebells or dumbbells (aim for 40 to 100 pounds), one in each hand
  • Lock out your arms, keep your chest up and your shoulders packed down and back
  • Begin to walk at a slow to moderate pace
  • Avoid crossing your feet or waddling side-to-side

Ring Static Holds

Sets/Reps: 3x1 (rest one minute between sets)

  • Using just your body weight or wearing a weighted vest, grip the rings firmly in both hands
  • Raise both legs (bent) to at least parallel or a little higher
  • Keep your arms straight, shoulders locked and chest up
  • Hold until failure

Waiter's Carries

Sets/Distance: 3x50 yards (rest one minute between sets)

  • Hold a 20- to 60-pound kettlebell or dumbbell in each hand
  • Lift both arms above your head holding the weight directly over your shoulders
  • Keep your arms locked out and shoulders packed down and stabilized
  • Tighten your stomach to avoid overextending your spine
  • Carry for a distance of 50 yards

High Volume Hang Cleans

Before beginning, review the STACK Hang Clean Guide

Sets/Reps: 60 reps for time

  • With your given bar weight, perform 60 Hang Cleans as quickly as possible
  • Attempt to perform your rest periods in the hang position and never let the weight hit the ground
  • If the bar does hit the ground, have some sort of "punishment" (such as 10 burpees) as negative reinforcement

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