Let’s state the obvious. You use your hands, fingers, and wrists every single day. If you are active at the gym and lift weights, then your hands have the even bigger task of helping you succeed in performing your best bench presses, muscle ups, bicep curls, and everything in between.
Grip strength training can be a widely under-estimated exercise but can offer great benefits. Some of the grip strength and wrist mobility exercises and even be performed while at your desk in the office. Who loves getting some training in at work? *raises hands*
With all of the demands you place on your hands and wrists while at the gym, avoiding injury and pain is paramount. As anatomically complicated as your hands and wrists are, they deserve a little more attention in training.
So get a grip on your hand strength!
Improve Your Grip Strength At Your Desk
Throughout the day you put a lot of stress on your hands, even if you are simply typing and sitting at a computer.
Take time to stretch your hands and wrists throughout your working hours that way they are ready to go when you hit the weights later in the day!
3 Hand Stretches At Your Desk
- Fingers bent, Palms on Desk: Standing up at a desk, place your palms on the desk and turn your wrists so your fingers are facing towards your legs and the inside of your elbows are pointed away from you. Then, slowly and gently, bend your fingers backward. Keep your palms on the desk and gently rock side to side keeping most of the weight in your palms
- Fingers Bent, Palms Raised: Keeping the same position as above, but now raise your palms up a little with just your fingers on the table. Continue to rock side to side altering the stretching in each hand so you don’t overextend.
- Fists Together, Backs of Hands on Desk: Standing at your desk make two fists with your thumbs on the outside of your hands and place the tops of your hands on your desk with elbows bent. Now, keeping your knuckles together and the backs of your hands flat on the desk, slightly straighten your elbows. This wrist mobility stretch will be hard at first until your mobility gets better with time.
Now let's look at the fun things you can do to improve your grip strength while simply working at your computer, or whatever mundane task you might have to do (while secretly wishing you were at the gym).
Grip Strength Desk Exercises
- Grab some of those rubber bands you have lying around. These are now like gold to you! Treat them like regular bands at the gym...only they are for your fingers! Put them around the outside of your 5 fingers and slowly stretch out as far as you can. You can even add smaller or multiple bands to get more resistance in your exercise. Start with 20-30 reps per hand.
- This next exercise is the counter action to the one above. Grab some closing grippers (super cheap on Amazon) and work the same numbers of reps as you did with the bands above per hand. This is a great little tool you can throw in your pocket for your next boring conference call or that meeting you have to go to later. :)
- If you rush to work and forget your grippers one day, try this alternative and genius way to improve your grip strength at your desk. Grab the heaviest, thickest book (or 2 books together) you can find. Grip it along the spine with one hand in a pinching position (fingers on one side, thumb on the other) and “walk” your fingers down the spine of the book. This is especially hard if you have two books together and have to press them tightly to keep from dropping them.
Grip Strength Training at the Gym
Now, if you are serious about improving your grip strength and wrist mobility, then you should add in a few training sessions to your gym routine. This might seem like such a minor muscle group to add in on top of your chest exercises, legwork routine, core strength training, and deadlifting, but trust me, your improved grip strength will aid in all of these areas too and keep you from injury in the future.
The best way to prevent injury when dealing with weights is to use wrist wraps while lifting heavy weights. The Survival and Cross wrist wraps are meant to apply the perfect amount of pressure and stability in the wrist to prevent injury and provide stability during weightlifting. You can find them on Amazon in our shop here.
Wrist Mobility At The Gym
- The best way to improve wrist mobility at the gym (or at home) is assisted by using bands. Loop a resistance band around an anchor point and put your wrist through the opposite end. With your fingers facing towards you and the band pulling your wrist in the opposite direction (elbow facing out) pull against the resistance band so you feel the tension in your wrist and palm. This will help you open up your wrist joint and promote that wrist flexibility you might need in heavier weight lifting routines like the clean, snatch or jerk.
Grip Strength Gym Exercises
Check out this video from Jim Bathurst with NerdFitness.com for a visual on some awesome grip strength training exercises. Here, Jim will explain how to do dumbbell head grabs, the farms walk, plate curls, and much more.
Other Ways To Improve Grip Strength:
Bar Hang: One great way to improve your grip strength is to actually hang, one handed, from a gym ring or bar (will come in handy if you ever find yourself falling off a cliff). Your own body weight will be the resistance here and your grip strength will determine how long you can hang. Go for at least 1 minute for each hand.
Wrist Curls/Reverse Wrist Curls: Sitting on a bench, grab a dumbbell with one hand with fingers facing up. Lay your forearm along your leg and let your wrist and the dumbbell hang in front of your knee. Slowly curl the dumbbell with your wrist and repeat for 15 reps in each hand. Flip over your grip for reverse wrist curls, fingers facing down.
Barbell/Dumbbell Levering: A wrist exercise that is not for the beginner! Grab an empty bar in the center with one hand and raise it parallel. Begin “see-sawing” the bar back and forth letting the weight of the bar rock up and down. Your wrist and grip will be tasked with stopping the momentum of the bar with each change in direction. Very challenging but also fun! You can do the same thing with a heavy dumbbell. This exercise also works your forearm strength simultaneously.
This list of grip strength training is certainly not exhaustive but it’s something to get you started! Whether you work from home, at an office or anywhere, there are always creative things you can do to work your hands and wrists. Caring for and training these digits will help in about 95% of all of your other regular exercises, so train them well!
Do you have any other suggestions on how to improve grip strength? Let us know! And make sure you share this blog post with your gym buddies and start rocking some of those awesome grip strength exercises (even if you are at work).