The Importance of Grip Strength (and how to improve it)

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Grip strength is an often misunderstood topic in the fitness and weight loss community, and I want you to know right off the bat what we mean when we talk about grip strength.

Grip strength is a major contributor to your natural ability to lift weights and perform countless everyday tasks. That being said, science says that grip strength is also directly correlated to your total health and longevity as you age.

In one example, a study done in the United Kingdom back in 2018 discovered that muscle weakness (in this case defined by a grip-strength test) was associated with respiratory disease, heart disease, and premature death among women and men.

So let’s make this clear – grip strength is way more important than just your ability to easily open a pickle jar.

Let’s talk about grip strength in the gym…

In your forearm and hand, there are approximately 35 muscles that are directly related to your grip strength. Experts suggest that when you engage those grip muscles, you’ll not only significantly boost your performance in the gym, but you’ll also be able to perform longer, heavier, and more efficient lifts with less effort.

And on the flip side of that coin, a lack of grip strength will negatively impact your ability to push beyond your limits in a workout.

How many of you have found that, if you’re doing a rowing exercise, you let go of the bar not because your back can’t handle any more rowing but because your grip strength isn’t enough to keep pushing forward?

Consider the upright row.

Yes, I know this exercise primarily targets the traps, deltoids, and rhomboids, but you’ll find that grip strength is a much more essential part of the exercise. Why? Because holding the weight through the move is much more difficult than actually rowing with your traps.

If your hands suddenly begin to fatigue and your grip starts to feel awkward, you’re left with a set that wasn’t completed adequately. Not because your back muscles didn’t have the capacity to keep going, but because your grip strength wasn’t enough for you to keep pushing rep after rep.

This is where grip strength becomes a major issue for a lot of people, and it’s one of the main reasons why some lifters find they’re much stronger when training with straps.

Not to mention, improving your grip strength will also decrease your chance of injury and improve your process of recovery. Basically, strengthening the muscles and the connective tissues surrounding these joints will increase in more stabilization in the long run. The more stable the join, the less chance you have of getting yourself injured.

And grip strength is important outside the gym, as well…

Pretty much everything you do throughout the day involves grip strength, at least to some extent. Opening jars, buttoning up your shirt, lacing up your shoes, carrying your groceries, even the simple act of shaking someone’s hand.

That’s why integrating grip strength exercise inside the gym can improve your ability to function and perform basic daily tasks and movements, and not to mention, improve fine motor skills, boost your endurance, and even aid your aging process.

So how do we improve our grip strength?

Sure, the old-school grip strengtheners (the two handles joined by a stiff coil) will do an amazing job, but they’re not the best option out there.

Some of the lifts you already do inside the gym are great for grip strength, so right now, let’s examine 5 movements you can do in the gym that will definitely help you boost your grip strength, and with it, contribute to your overall health and performance.

  1. Farmer’s walk.

Simply grab a couple of kettlebells, weight plates, or dumbbells, and stroll around the gym. It’s as simple as it gets. This is not only a great way to improve your grip strength, but a great way to test it, as well. How far can you go before dropping the weight?

  1. Deadlifts.

We can’t miss out on the opportunity to talk about deadlifts here. They’re an amazing way to practice a variety of grip variations. Whether you choose double overhand, the mixed grip (in which one palm faces in and the other faces out,) or the hook grip (where you hook your thumbs under the bar,) they’re all great options for finding out which grip variation you’re lacking strength in.

  1. Pullups.

Pullups work your grip like no other exercise, in addition to your shoulders, lats, traps, and back. If you find that pullups are too difficult for you, the simple act of hanging from the bar will help you increase your grip strength and endurance tremendously.

  1. Zottman curls.

Ever heard of the zottman curl? Place dumbbells in your hand, face your palms inward toward the sides of your body, and on the way up, rotate your palms inward. Pause at the top at this curl, then simply rotate your palms back, down, and out before you reach your starting position.

  1. Reverse curls.

Grab an EZ-bar, dumbbell, or even a straight bar, with your palms facing down. While focusing on the top half of the curl, with your arms basically at the starting 90-degree angle and then finishing in front of your shoulders.