Coming to Grip with GRIP Strength

Coming to Grips with (Grip) Strength

Whether flying through farmer’s carries, demolishing deadlifts, or pillaging pull ups, most athletes are limited by their grip strength. How often have you jumped off the rig, put down a kettlebell, or dropped a barbell because your grip failed, and not because you couldn’t execute the movement?

Grip Strength and CrossFit

Grip strength is important; and not only for CrossFit. Having good grip strength indicates good all round muscle and body awareness. Although we use our hands every day, and they do a lot of work, we should focus on exercising our hands too (even though we might not think so).

In the Box - whether practicing gymnastics, Olympic lifting or metcon work - grip strength affects everything we do. From gripping a bar to lift, to swinging on the rig, or holding training equipment like a kettle/dumbbell, solid grip strength improves all aspects of your training. If you can hold onto the bar longer, you can do more reps. If you can pick up a heavier barbell, you can increase your strength. If you can control your hands better, you have more security when performing any movement that requires your hands.

Weak Grip Woes

The biggest pitfall of limited grip strength is not being sure of what your hands can do. As a coach, I’ve seen people fall of a pull up bar and kettlebells go flying mid-swing. Our bodies, and in this case our upper bodies, are usually much more capable than our hands allow them to demonstrate.

We fail at movements due to grip strength because we simply don’t realise that our grip is failing; we don’t know what we can and can’t do until we fail. This is why it is important to have trust in your grip, knowing full well what it can do, and balancing this with upper body strength. Your grip strength does not have to be your first priority, but knowing what your hands can do (and being confident in their abilities) is vitally important. Know your strengths, work on your weaknesses!

Gripping Exercises

There’s no unique science to training grip strength. It pretty much involves anything using your hands, forearms and fingers.

From hanging on a bar, to playing on monkey bars, climbing ropes, executing deadlift holds, rolling up weights with your hands, and using hand crunchers; do anything that gives you awareness that your hands, forearms and fingers are working.

Wrist mobility is very important and should be made a part of any grip strength training regime.

It’s time to get gripped.

By William Schutte, Co-Founder and Coach at CrossFit 360Vida