By Brian Shaw Flex
Whether you are a bodybuilder, strongman, or causal lifter, how important is it to have a strong grip? Obviously, when it comes to strongman training and competition, having a strong grip is essential to being successful. Grip competitions have also started to gain a lot of popularity in the last few years and it is very common to see highly competitive grip challenges at almost any fitness expo you attend.
Speaking specifically to forearm size and strength, normally a guy with a good grip is going to have massive forearms that get noticed everywhere. When it comes to muscles that get attention every single day, forearms are at the top of that list because they are not covered up by a shirt (unless you’re wearing a dress shirt!) and are almost always on display! I know a lot about this because my forearms are bigger than most guys’ biceps and they do get noticed a lot!
Possessing a strong grip can also be very useful on a day-to-day basis. If you think about it, how often do you need to lift and carry things around the house? How often do you get asked by your wife or girlfriend to open a jar? And what guy doesn’t want to be able to open any challenge jar that is given to him by a woman? Definitely not me!
So now that we know how important a strong grip and powerful-looking arm muscles are, how can you go from having average-size forearms and a mediocre grip to possessing massive forearms that get noticed by everyone and a grip that can crush anything? Here are a few tips to help get you started:
1 Stop using straps for every lift! Doing exercises like rows, pulldowns, shrugs, and deadlifts without straps will build your grip strength and forearm size tremendously. Like the old adage says—use it or lose it! Rely on your grip and it will serve you well.
2 Start adding small grip-specific workouts to your normal training one to two times per week. The muscles of the hand and forearm are small and will take time to build up. However, working them specifically a couple times per week will get them to respond more quickly.
3 Try to add in as much “fat bar” training as possible. There are now a lot of cable attachments at gyms everywhere that are 1½ to two inches in diameter. Also, many hardcore and CrossFit-style gyms now have a thick bar or axle. Furthermore, there are also fat rubber attachments you can buy to put on a normal bar that you can easily throw in your gym bag for use in the gym. Using these bars or attachments in place of normal size bars will make your forearms and grip strength grow rapidly. The great part is that all you have to do is use these instead of the normal-size bars—nothing else. It’s a perfect case of form, function, and results being dictated by the task at hand.
BAR HANGS Use a chinning apparatus, or place a normal bar on top of the power rack and hang from it for as long as you can until your grip fails. Repeat two to three times.
DUMBBELL WRIST CURLS Place your arm on the bench with your hand of the end of the bench so your palm faces up (supinated). Now flex your forearm to curl your wrist up. Pause briefly, lower under control, and repeat. After completion, repeat using the same hand with your palm facing down (pronated), flexing the back of your hand up. Perform 8–12 reps each direction, and complete two to three sets for each hand.
PLATE PINCH GRIP If your gym has bumper plates, these are the best for this exercise. But if not, try to find plates that are smooth on at least one side. You can use 25-, 35- or 45-pound plates and pick them up with one hand by pinching them with your fingers. If your gym only has fat plates, you can use 10, 25, 35, or 45-pound plates, smooth side out. Do 8–12 reps, switch hands, and repeat. Perform two to three sets for each hand. You can also challenge yourself by trying to pinch two plates together and lift them with either one hand or two hands for reps. If you want to measure yourself against the world’s top guys, you should be able to pinch-grip two 45-pound plates smooth side out with one hand.