Increasing the weight on the bar should be a goal of every athlete; and an often overlooked but effective way to achieve it is by developing a stronger grip, which will help you transfer more force into the bar, ball, bat, racquet or stick. (See 7 Grueling Grip-Training Exercises.)
Grip training isn't only about squeezing harder. You must develop your hand, finger and forearm muscles to deliver force regardless of whether you are pushing (think Bench Press) or pulling (think Pull-Up).
In many programs, the grip training segment comes at the end of a workout and involves a PVC pipe with a rope and weight attached. Needless to say, this is inadequate. Developing your grip requires as much focus and dedication as you put into the Squat, Deadlift or Bench Press.
Here are a few grip training exercises that will give you a huge bang for your buck.
Tennis Ball Squeezes
Grab a tennis ball and place the first pads of your fingers and thumb on the ball. Squeeze and hold for thirty seconds. Then place the tennis ball midway down your fingers and thumb and squeeze again for thirty seconds. Next, place the tennis ball in the palm of your hand and crush it for thirty seconds. Finally, hold the tennis ball in front of your face with your arms extended. Drop it, catch it on the bounce and squeeze it as hard as you can. Repeat this entire sequence five times with each hand. As you gain grip strength, progress to repeating it 10 times.
Take a five-gallon bucket and fill it halfway with rice. Place just your fingertips in the rice, then open and close your fingers for thirty seconds. Move to the second knuckle and repeat. Next, make a fist without holding the rice, and make circles for thirty seconds. Finally, flex and extend your wrist while keeping your hand in the rice for thirty seconds. Repeat this sequence for two rounds, and work up to four rounds of forty-five seconds each. (See also Grip and Rip With Rice Bucket Hand-Strengthening Exercises.)
Wet Towel Ring
Grab two old but clean towels. Find two five-gallon buckets. Fill one with water and place the towels in to soak. Pull each towel out of the water and ring it out into the empty bucket. Continue dunking the towels and ringing them out until the empty bucket is full. (You may need to add water to the first bucket to complete the task.) Record your time, and try to beat it next time.
Watch the following video from SMARTER Team Training for more info on grip training:
Editor's Note: Coach Taylor has developed the SMARTER Team Training Audio Interview Series, dedicated to promoting critical thinking, reason and public understanding of prudent, purposeful and productive strength and conditioning practices for clients and athletes. Listen to episodes featuring some of the best experts in the fields of strength and conditioning, personal training, sports nutrition and sport psychology here.
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