Buckets of rice and sheets of newspaper probably don’t come to mind when you think about getting stronger. But if you’re looking to throw a baseball faster, swing a bigger bat or improve your control on the mat, they can strengthen your grip. Try these simple yet effective exercises.
Who uses it: Vanderbilt University baseball
Who coaches it: John Sisk, head strength and conditioning coach
• Fill bucket or jug with rice (Sisk recommends water jugs)
• Drive forearm into bucket
• Repeatedly squeeze handfuls of rice
• Work each individual finger
• Reach for the bottom of the bucket
Reps: 2-3×30 seconds for each hand
Benefits: As a pitcher, the pressure points on the ball dictate how well you can throw certain pitches. Working your fingers and hands will improve your grip.
Who uses it: Hofstra University wrestling
Who coaches it: Joe Makovec, assistant strength and conditioning coach
• Start with medium-weight dumbbells that you can carry for 30 to 60 seconds
• Hold dumbbell in each hand
• Keep arms straight at your sides
• Walk in straight line and maintain good posture
• Keep core muscles tight
Distance: 30-yards, or until you can no longer firmly hold weights
Benefit: This drill improves endurance, which is important because you’re going to have to hold your opponent for as long as three minutes at a time during matches.
Makovec says variation is key to maintaining a fresh routine, especially during the season. “I try to be creative with some of the new lifts I throw at [my athletes], just to keep their interest piqued,” he says. Keep things fresh by creating your own drills. The Newspaper Crunch, for example, is an easy exercise that you can perform outside of the gym.
• Lay full sheet of newspaper on table
• Pick up from the center of the sheet with one hand
• Keeping arm straight, slowly crumple newspaper until it’s balled up inside your palm
• Repeat with other hand
Reps: Begin with five sheets per hand; add one sheet each week until you reach 10.
Adaptation: Mix up the sets, working both palms down and palms up.