With the Strongman scene continuing to grow each year, becoming heavier, faster and more dynamic, the importance of Grip training is becoming more and more apparent.
Nowadays, having a strong grip is worth far more than showboating and circus lifts - especially for strength athletes. With the inclusion of events such as Deadlift Ladders and various Medleys, a strong grip saves valuable time in between implements, negating the time required during the set up when using lifting straps and figure-8s.
With almost all strongman competitions either having a specific grip event, such as a Hercules Hold, or events which require a strong grip (Farmers Walks, Frames), athletes can no longer remain competitive whilst having a weak grip.
KEY TIPS FOR IMPROVING GRIP STRENGTH
When it comes to accessory lifts, try leaving your deadlift straps in your kit bag – most people shouldn’t require straps for exercises such as pull-ups, Bent over rows or lat pulldowns! Alternatively, challenge yourself to putting weights away by pinching the plates as you carry them!
Train your Forearms
Having large forearms typically correlates to a strong grip – think Brian Shaw. The larger and stronger you can get your forearms, the more capacity for strength there is. Some of my favourites include barbell finger curls, heavy dumbbell hammer curls and wrist extensions.
Often overlooked in the strongmen world (I was certainly guilty of this) – pinch grip is an essential part of general grip strength. By mainly targeting thumb strength – different plate & block pinches can help train the hands and stop them opening up on heavy grip events. More often than not, an athlete’s grip will go when their thumbs begin to slip – therefore having strong digits will mitigate the risk of losing grip.
The correct chalk can make a huge difference to your grip strength – if you naturally sweat a fair amount – a small application of liquid chalk is essential to dry the hands out before lifting. For grip athletes liquid chalk is seldom allowed, and so a thin layer of magnesium chalk would be preferable. Play around with different combinations and see what works for you, avoid over-chalking!
Grip training is very easy to fit in the end of a session, and can be very fun to train, but this doesn’t mean you should be throwing it in every day. Two or three sessions a week, if planned correctly, will be enough to improve grip strength whilst keeping the hands and forearms healthy, without the risk of overtraining.
A variety of the classics such as Strapless Deadlifts, Holds, Thick Bars, Pinches, Hangs and Grippers seems to work best – try to keep a variety of exercises in your plan and ensure you are mixing it up across different implements.
However, there are other ways of improving your grip strength in the gym.
Grab yourself some Cerberus chalk and get to work improving your grip. If you are short for ideas or would like some support to keep you accountable, fire me a DM on Instagram @paddy_strongman. Now let’s get to work, so you never have to do two trips with the groceries again.