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Get to grips with grip strength

Grip Strength head cut

Can you think of a bodyweight or gym exercise that doesn't use forearms or grip strength? Probably not.

From Pullups and Hanging Leg Raises to Bench Presses and Deadlifts, the amount of reps and sets you are able to complete often depends on the strength of your forearms and grip. As the muscles in the forearm and hands are smaller than the larger muscles used in many Freeletics exercises (such as the triceps and back), without adequate training, they often become the first to fatigue and the reason we struggle or give up.

Get a grip...but which one?

The strength of your grip depends on which grip you use and how often you train it. The strongest grip for Hangs and Pullup variations is usually a neutral grip, where your palms are facing each other. Other grips include pronated (palms facing away) and supinated (palms facing towards you) grips. All grips should be trained, not only for grip strength, but also for shoulder health as they stretch and strengthen your shoulders in different ways.

Stronger grip, stronger core

Gripping produces something called the irradiation effect. This means that, when you grip firmly, you generate full body tension as well as harder abdominal contractions. Try to squeeze the bar during Pullups and you might be able to bang out a few more reps than usual. The same principal also works for Bench Presses.

So, how to train grip strength?

In strength and conditioning, as well as in the functional training world, the best way to improve grip strength is through including a variety of hanging exercises in your training. Pullups and passive or active Hangs are the most popular, and should be done with different types of grips so as to holistically train the muscles in the forearms and hands. Toes-to-Bar and gym exercises such as heavy Deadlifts are also effective in training grip strength, which translates to functional strength during everyday activities.

Grip training can be done multiple times a week as it's on the low end of the spectrum when it comes to fatigue of the central nervous system. That means that your body (brain, motor units and muscles) recover fairly quickly (24-48h) after a hard training session of working your grip.

Let's recap

Adding a grip-focused session to your workout routine two or three times a week can lead to serious rep and set gains. Take on the challenge for yourself; we guarantee it’ll have you hanging on for dear life.