We’re going to ask you a question. What do you think a powerlifter, strongman and a gymnast have in common that makes them all successful at what they do? The answer is their grip. This might be surprising to you as nobody really makes a fuss about how strong their forearms and hands are, but it actually happens to be one of the most important areas for developing strength (and endurance).
So why exactly is a strong grip essential for success?
The majority of movements that involve you pulling something will make use of your grip. If you want to be able to hit 12 chin ups or pull ups, you have to learn how to hold on to the bar. If you don’t want to slip off then your grip needs to be strong and firm to give you a good base on which to pull yourself up.
When you are using heavy weight, such as in the deadlift, you have to be able to hold on to the bar. Different gripping techniques can be used such as the alternative grip, but this will only go so far. The majority of lifters you see will technically have a strong enough back to lift the bar off of the ground but their grip goes and it slips straight out of their hands. Smaller muscles give out before larger ones.
If you are training in order to achieve an aesthetic image, it is still just as important to develop a powerful set of forearms. The forearms are one of the slowest growing muscle groups in the body, especially when compared to the biceps and triceps: this is why lots of guys will have large upper arms, but their lower arms look tiny in comparison. If you were wanting a proportionate physique, they can’t be left in the dust.
Realising that you should be training the forearms is only one part of the puzzle: the next step is to figure out how to train them.
We at EHF believe that the most effective way is to frequently train using heavy weights on your pulling movements. Clearly this is entirely relative, so don’t try and lift something too heavy for you. You will frequently feel a burning sensation in your forearms, but this is entirely normal: it is your forearms getting fatigued but is necessary in order for them to grow.
Incorporate specific grip exercises into your routine. An example would be adding 3 sets of farmer’s walks at the end of your workout. This involves holding two dumbbells in your hands and walking with them for as long as you can. I can guarantee that these will hurt but will be worth it in the end.
When at the office or watching TV, you can buy hand grips that are portable and allow you to conveniently train your grip. Different strength grips can be bought depending on your strength level.
We would also suggest buying some chalk which will help you to grip in all situations. It works by stopping your hands getting sweaty so that there is a lot of friction between your hands and the bar. Unlike buying straps, chalk will allow you to grip better whilst still training your forearms: straps will help you lift the weight but your grip won’t develop.
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