Why is grip strength important?
Grip strength might not always be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about fitness, but it’s a crucial component that shouldn’t be overlooked. Whether you’re an athlete or just someone looking to stay active and healthy, here’s why grip strength matters and how it can benefit your overall fitness journey.
First and foremost, grip strength is all about functional strength. Think about your daily life – opening jars, carrying heavy grocery bags, or even lifting everyday objects. A strong grip makes these tasks easier and more efficient, allowing you to navigate the demands of daily life with ease.
But it’s not just about convenience; grip strength plays a significant role in injury prevention. By stabilizing the wrist and forearm, it reduces the risk of strains and sprains during activities that engage the upper body, whether you’re lifting weights at the gym or playing sports with friends.
Now, let’s talk about performance in the box. In the gym, a powerful grip is essential for things like pull-ups and kettlebell swings, and farmer carries. When weightlifting, securely holding the barbell during the pulls hinges on a strong grip. It’s easy to see how grip strength impacts rope climbs but even in activities such as rowing, double-unders, and echo bikes, grip strength can make a huge difference.
A robust grip contributes to balanced and symmetrical muscle development. Neglecting grip strength can lead to muscle imbalances, which can impede your progress and potentially lead to injury. By working on your grip, you’re promoting overall muscle harmony. Endurance is another benefit. A strong grip lets you hold onto weights or equipment for longer, increasing your ability to perform more repetitions and boosting your overall endurance. When your grip is up to the task, it enhances muscle engagement during exercises. You can lift more weight and complete more repetitions – leading to better results in your workouts.
Lastly, consider the long term. As we age, maintaining grip strength becomes even more crucial for functional independence. It helps us perform daily tasks with ease and preserves our quality of life as we grow older. Given our reliance on our hands for countless everyday tasks, Having a strong grip has an outsized impact on our quality of life since so much of your upper body is mediated through your hands. If your grip is weak, everything upstream of that is weak.
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If you think your grip could use some extra work, here are a few things you can try before or after class to help!
Plate pinching trains your grip in a slightly different way, so it’s a great addition. All you need is two plates. They don’t have to be very heavy. About 5-10lbs should be enough in the beginning. Now you simply pinch them together for 30 seconds, then repeat for a few sets.
The Farmer’s carry is another fantastic exercise to work your grip. It is usually done with two dumbbells or kettlebells, one in each hand. All you need to do is walk a certain distance holding the weights. The bonus here is you’re adding motion. So, on top of the grip, you’re also working on wrist stability.
You may want to try dead hangs a few times a week as a cooldown or relaxing stretch. Grip the bar with an overhand grip (palms facing away from you). Aim to keep your arms shoulder-width apart. Start with 10 seconds if you’re new to the exercise. Work your way up to 45 seconds to 1 minute at a time.
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