Forearm and Grip Strength with Texas A&M Softball

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If your forearms and grip packed as much power as Popeye's, you would increase your bat speed and improve your hitting. To help her players build that strength, Raychelle Ellsworth, strength and conditioning coach for Texas A&M softball, steers away from typical Isolated Wrist Curls or Wrist Rollers, "because those exercises don't have a direct correlation to bat speed."

The Aggies, who are known for some of the quickest bats in the South, perform Horizontal Pull-Ups once a week. These target grip strength and the posterior delts, which help with shoulder stability. "We target two different muscles with just one exercise," Ellsworth says.

Horizontal Pull-ups
• Lower pegs on squat rack to level where you can barely touch bar while lying on back on floor with arms fully extended
• Grab bar with overhand grip
• Maintaining erect body position, pull yourself up to bar
• Lower in slow, controlled fashion
Sets/Reps/Rest Time: 3/10/1:1
Adaptation: Raise the pegs, then drape two towels shoulder-width apart over the bar. Get in the same position as the initial movement, but hold the towels instead of the bar as you pull yourself up until your hands are in a straight line with your chest. Because the towels are thicker, they will be harder to hold, which stresses your forearm muscles more and further enhances your grip strength.

Ellsworth's tips
1. Keep body as stiff as possible and back flat throughout the Pull-Up.
2. Try to touch bar to chest below nipple line.
3. Keep heels in contact with ground throughout exercise.
4. While pulling up, do not allow hips to sag.
5. Don't let momentum help pull you up; pull strictly with your back.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock