Poor grip strength can hurt your ability to lift big, fast and powerful. If your hands aren’t strong, you’ll have less force and stability in your movements. If you want to increase your Bench Press, for example, your shoulders must be stable enough to handle the load. The body will not allow for increased loads at the expense of joint stability. If you lack a stable joint, your strength and power will be limited. Implementing static and integrated grip strength exercises will help avoid this and push your bench through the roof.
If your brain receives “warning signs” that the weight is too heavy and your grip can’t handle it, the rest of your body will shut down to avoid injury—like losing the hip-hinge technique, rolling the lower back and losing optimal hip drive positioning, causing you to work in an unsafe position.
But grip strength isn’t achieved through strong hands alone. It requires pelvic control, core strength, shoulder stabilization and proper body alignment. That’s why it’s important to integrate grip training into movement, rather than only perform isolated movements like Wrist Curls or Rice Buckets. You need to develop a strong “iron grip” within your compound movements.
Below are examples of exercises that work your grip strength.
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Forward Lunge With Reverse Kettlebell Grip
When you grip the kettlebell, your core and shoulder instantly engage to assist in stabilization prior to the lunge pattern. This is a great exercise to train the nervous system to stabilize before movement.
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Forward Lunge With Overhead Kettlebell Hold
This move increases grip demand and feedback to the central nervous system by placing the kettlebell overhead, in a locked-out position. With the hand farther away from the navel, more core and pelvic control is required to stabilize the arm. An important tip for this exercise: make sure the ball of the kettlebell is behind the hand. This will place the load in optimal alignment.
This is a great way to ensure low back stiffness and maintain a neutral or slightly lordotic curve to the spine. I like this exercise because you can continue to work the hip-hinge component of the Deadlift and increase the load while avoiding load placement in front of the body. By using the rope and pulley system between the legs, you can work with a more efficient center of gravity.
All three of the above exercise are basic introductions to emphasizing grip strength within more complex movements. Try each one for three sets of eight to 10 reps.
From the first clench of your fist, your central nervous system sends signals to your core to stiffen and become rigid while also “telling” your shoulder to stabilize the head of the humerus in the shoulder socket. This is an anticipatory response, part of the feed-forward mechanism. If you want to increase the power, speed and strength of all your lifts, you need to make grip strength a major part of your training program.
WATCH: Increase Your Grip With Rice Grabs