Don’t Skip Grip Day
modeled by Jess Martin at Crux Climbing Center
Photography by Weston Carls
A stronger grip has been proven to increase overall strength, fitness, and decrease risk of repetitive movement injuries such as climbers elbow, golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow, and Bitcoin miner’s elbow (okay, that last one may not be true).
We use our wrists, forearms, and fingers more than we think. For many of us, it’s the most used muscle group in our day-to day lives (i.e. typing, driving, and holding your dog’s leash). You may not think about these daily activities as being at all related to fitness, but a balanced strength in these grip-related muscle groups drastically reduces your risk of repetitive movement injuries.
As with any muscle group isolation, it’s a sound suggestion to take things slow at the beginning and establish variety when possible.
With that in mind, here are five different techniques for increasing overall finger, wrist, and forearm strength. Incorporate each of these into your weekly workouts and watch the PRs and words-per-minute speeds skyrocket!
Pinch blocks allow you to drastically build and train the muscle groups surrounding your thumb, specifically in the way it applies tension when in that pinch position.
With this lift, start small, holding the pinch in a dead hang position for 15–30 seconds, increasing in weight in-between each set. Experiment with the weight to where your last set has you at your limit at the 15-second mark. Three to five sets is a great place to start building those lobster claws.
Loved by rock climbers, hangboards focus on distribution of strength over all four major digits. Hangboards aren’t just for climbers and are popping up in fitness facilities all over the nation. There are typically several options for hangboard training, but again, start small and work your way up. You can implement pull-ups or just focus on static deadhangs.
Kettlebell Farmer’s Carry
The farmer’s carry (or sometimes referred to as the farmer’s walk) is the most intuitive and full body grip strength workout on our list. It can be deceptive, but you would be surprised as to how difficult walking 20 meters carrying 30–60 pounds can be! The workout is simple: hold one kettlebell in each hand and walk it out in a controlled, steady pace. Increase weight as needed and superset within other non-grip related lifts (antagonist superset).
If you haven’t felt the burn yet, you will here! Hold the roller down at your waist and roll the weighted sling up and down by twisting the roller clockwise and counter and clockwise. Start at 50 percent and increase weight each set, doing three to five sets total. Again, feel free to add this to the end of your workout or as a companion to a seperate lift.
Wide Grip Pull-up
A trusted classic, a good wide grip pull-up adds more dynamic movement to your grip and helps with connecting this small muscle group to it’s neighborhood (biceps, shoulders, neck, and back). Most of us will do just fine with lifting our body weight with or without bands to help, but to increase weight, add a lumbar belt to the mix as seen in the photo. It’s good to focus on endurance here, going for eight reps in 3–5 sets.
Out of the Gym Bonus
The beauty of working on your grip strength is that, unlike some muscle groups, you’re not bound to the confines of a gym or workout facility.
These devices here are tools that you can implement in your morning commute, Netflix sessions, or at times of increased stress: