Top 10 Hand Grip Exercises You Need To Know About

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Top 10 Hand Grip Exercises You Need To Know About
Last Updated: 29th September 2016

It's amazing how much time some people spend working out the "show" muscles--the biceps, triceps, chest, quads, and abs--only to neglect the other less showy, yet equally important muscles!

Your forearms are a surprisingly important muscle. Think about it:

  • When you do a bench press, a bicep curl, or a deadlift, your forearms are engaged to grip the weights.
  • When you perform pull-ups, go rock-climbing, or shovel snow, grip strength is a must.
  • Most of your activities of daily life--such as carrying your kids, bringing in the groceries, or lifting heavy items--use your hands in some way or another.

Despite the fact that A LOT of people neglect to work their forearms, it's vital that you take the time to include hand grip exercise in every workout.

Not only will it develop your grip, but it will improve your fitness in every area!

Why Handgrip Strength Matters

Did you know that handgrip strength is used as a measure of your overall fitness? People with good handgrip strength tend to have good overall muscular strength, and those with poor grip strength have poor physical fitness.

It's believed that your grip strength can predict your mortality.

In a 2007 study, it was discovered that men with poor grip strength had a higher risk of mortality from cancer, cardiovascular diseases.

After examining 24 years' worth of UK health records, scientists determined that poor grip strength was an indicator of muscle mass loss and fat mass increase--which in turn pointed to poor body composition.

Grip strength plays a role in a surprising number of activities:

  • Daily chores (carrying, lifting, sweeping, mopping, shoveling, raking, etc.)
  • Sports (football, hockey, lacrosse, etc.)
  • Extreme sports (paintball, rock climbing, etc.)
  • Resistance training (just about every exercise that involves holding or carrying a weight)

But the benefits of performing hand grip strength exercises extends beyond just what you can do with your muscles…

You see, your muscles act to protect your bones and joints. If you have thick, strong forearm muscles, the muscles will protect your forearm bones from being damaged.

The muscles will also strengthen your wrists, reducing the risk of wrist injuries or strains. In the end, good grip strength pays off!

How can you strengthen your wrists? Easy: hand grip exercises! Add a few hand grip strength exercises to the end of your workouts, and you'll give those forearm muscles the attention they deserve.

Question: Why not spend more time on your forearms?

Answer: Most upper body (and many lower body) exercises already engage your forearm muscles to grip the weights.

Your forearms don't require as much attention as the larger muscle groups.

Here are 10 of the best hand grip exercises around:

1. Farmer's Walk

Of all the hand grip exercises, this is one of the simplest around. It's perfect for beginners, those suffering from wrist injuries, or even those with limited joint mobility.

The beauty of this exercise is that there is no strain placed on your joints. It's a simple, easy exercise to improve your grip strength.

How it's Done:

Step 1: Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand.

Step 2: With your back straight, head up, shoulders relaxed, and arms hanging by your side, walk around the room.

Step 3: Walk for 45 to 60 seconds without stopping, keeping a tight grip on the weight.

Can't handle a lot of weight? Use lighter dumbbells!

The exercise develops muscular endurance thanks to the fact that your forearm muscles are engaged for the full 45 to 60 seconds that you are walking and gripping the weight.

2. Pull-Up Bar Hang

Your grip strength plays a VERY important role in your ability to perform pull-ups, the single most effective bodyweight exercise to develop upper back, shoulder, and bicep strength.

If you can't support your weight, you need to strengthen your grip. This is one of the best hand grip exercises around!

Though it involves no movement at all, it will shred your forearms and develop the strength you need to be able to do pull-ups. Get a pull-up bar for home from here at best price.

How it's Done:

Step 1: Grip the pull-up bar (palms facing forward) with your hands spread roughly shoulder width apart.

Step 2: Lift your feet off the ground.

Step 3: Hang for as long as you can.

It's a beginner-friendly movement, but one that will develop some serious forearm and grip strength!

3. Rack Suitcase Isometric Hold

This exercise is a bit more challenging but no less effective for improving your grip strength.

The fact that you are holding a loaded barbell means your muscles will have to work extra hard to keep it balanced as you grip it. Definitely a killer movement!

How it's Done:

Step 1: Place a barbell on the rack, and add weight plates to each side.

Step 2: Stand with the bar on your left side, and grip it with your right arm. Lift.

Step 3: Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

It doesn't involve any movement, but it will challenge your grip strength and work your core.

4. Plate Pinches

This is another of the easy, beginner-friendly hand grip exercises, but it will challenge your strength indeed!

You can use as much or as little weight as necessary. Be prepared: it will burn!

How's it Done:

Step 1: Select two weight plates.

Step 2: Pinch the weight plates between your thumb and forefinger, and lift.

Step 3: Hold for 30 to 45 seconds.

It's not an easy movement, but it's wonderfully effective for building grip strength!

5. Dumbbell Rotations

This movement will hit your biceps as well as your forearms, making it a good exercise to add to your Arms Day routine.

It will take a bit of practice to get the form just right, but once you do, it will help to shred your forearm muscles and develop serious grip strength.

Take note: you'll want to start out with very light weight!

How it's Done:

Step 1: Grip a pair of dumbbells and, with your elbows locked at your sides, curl the weights half-way up.

Step 2: Without moving your arms, twist your wrists as far to the right as you can.

Step 3: Twist your wrists as far to the left as you can. Repeat for 20 twists per side.

This movement will work your biceps nicely, all the while developing serious hand grip strength.

6. Hand Gripper Exercises

Hand Grippers are nifty little things to have at home, at work, and in the car!

Any time you have a few moments of downtime, you can break out the Grippers and spend a minute or two working on your grip strength.

You don't even need grippers with high difficulty; lightweight grippers work just as well for developing muscular endurance.

Here are a couple of hand grip strength exercises you can do with the hand grippers:

Ascending Pyramid -- For serious muscular endurance, you need to perform a lot of repetitions. This exercise is a good way to add more reps. Here's how it works:

1 squeeze right hand, 1 squeeze left hand.

2 squeezes right hand, 2 squeezes left hand.

3 squeezes right hand, 3 squeezes left hand.

And so on until you reach 10 squeezes per hand. This will be ONE set, for a total of 55 repetitions per set. You can work up to 15 squeezes per hand, performing well over 100 reps!

The 100 -- This is exactly how it sounds: you have to perform 100 squeezes per hand. You can alternate hands, squeeze one at a time, or do both at the same time. It doesn't matter how you do it, so long as you reach 100 reps (squeezes) without pausing.

Watch this video for a few more hand grip exercises using Hand Grippers: 

7. Towel/Rope Pull-Ups

If your gym has climbing ropes, you should definitely add Rope Climbing to your workouts. Not only does this help to improve your upper body strength (your back, biceps, and shoulders work hard to pull you up), but it shreds your forearms thanks to the fact that you have to grip the ropes.

But what do you do if your gym or home gym doesn't have climbing ropes? Easy: use a towel or a shorter rope to perform pull-ups.

How it's Done:

Step 1: Wrap a short rope (no longer than 1 meter/3 feet) around your pull-up bar.

Step 2: Instead of gripping the bar, grip the rope.

Step 3: Pull up.

If your forearms aren't able to handle this movement quite yet, you can do Towel Assisted Pull-Ups. One hand grips the pull-up bar as normal while the other grips a towel--great for your forearms!

8. Fat Gripz

This is a brilliant device that you can use to make any resistance training harder!

Basically, Fat Gripz are handles that you attach to your barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, or pull-up bar.

They are wider ("fatter") than your regular bar, so your hands can't close around them properly. Your grip is "open", meaning you don't have the same amount of strength you have when you can close your hands fully.

These devices are brilliant for performing just about any movement: Bench Press, Pull-Ups, Biceps Curls, Deadlifts, and the list goes on.

Your forearms will have to work double time to keep a tight grip on the weight you are lifting, helping you to build serious forearm strength! By adding these to your workout, you can turn any movement into hand grip strength exercises.

Watch star bodybuilder Jay Cutler talk about them in this video: 

9. Wrist Curls

If you think you're ready to handle a bit more weight, this is a more advanced hand grip exercise.

The movement can place a strain on your wrists, so make sure you only use the right amount of weight (an amount your wrists can handle). Your wrist joints can be fairly delicate, so be careful!

How it's Done:

Step 1: Grab a barbell (loaded or not) in a curl grip (palms facing upward), with your hands close together.

Step 2: Place your elbows and forearms on a weight bench, with your wrists (and the weight) hanging off the bench.

Step 3: Moving only your hands, curl your wrists upward. Repeat for 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps.

Be warned: this can hurt your wrists if you use too much weight! Start out with less weight, and you'll feel the burn in your forearms without risking wrist strain.

10. Hex Holds

This is an awesome hand grip strength exercise to try at the gym. You'll need the classic hex-shaped metal dumbbells though you can perform the exercise with any dumbbell you can grip properly.

The movement challenges your "open" grip (your forearm strength when you cannot close your fingers), and it will help you to build serious forearm and grip strength.

How it's Done:

Step 1: Stand a hex-shaped metal dumbbell on its side.

Step 2: Grip the head (one of the weighted sides) of the dumbbell and raise it off the floor.

Step 3: Hold for 30 to 45 seconds.

This is one of the best forearm-building exercises around, and it will help you to work your open grip effectively!

These are 10 of the best hand grip exercises around, and also some of the most efficient!

Add them to the end of your workouts (performing one or two exercises), and you'll see serious improvements in your forearm strength in no time!

A recent study shows that grip strength provides clues to the health of one's heart. This is why hand grip exercises are ideal especially because it can lower blood pressure by making blood vessels more flexible and improving their function. Thus, helping improve heart health.

Do you currently incorporate any of these exercises into your routine?

Let us know which one you want to try the most in the comments below!

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