Grip training isn't something many people focus on, but a strong grip indicates systemic strength. And any time we can add a "grip component" to an otherwise basic exercise, we effectively increase the number of motor units activated with that exercise.
Bonus: You may start seeing more arm size when you add a small dose of grip training. An increased demand on the forearms will result in more recruitment of the biceps. And you don't need to dedicate a full workout to grip training. You can add more of a grip focus to some of the common exercises you're likely already doing.
But first let's come up with some strength standards so that you can assess what your grip is like right now.
This is a relatively accurate test of grip strength and it consists of pinching iron plates together. For men: two 25s. Ladies: two 10s and a 2.5 plate.
The standard is holding for a 5-second count. It's a tough test, but reasonable for someone who deadlifts regularly.
1 – The Fat Grip Pull-Up
First, you'll need to already be proficient with regular pull-ups (10-plus strict reps) before leveling up the grip demand.
For many, simply adding Fat Gripz will turn this into an entirely new challenge.
Accumulate 25-30 total reps.
2 – Thick-Grip One-Arm Rows
Be prepared to use less loading than usual. You may be thinking, "If I'm using less load, will the exercise coincide with my level of strength and produce a training effect?"
Yes, and likely you'll get more of a training effect because most people go TOO heavy with their rows. I always feel my lats more when I drop the load. Plus, this will challenge to your forearms!
Do 4-5 sets of 8-10 reps on each side.
3 – Pinch-Grip Farmer's Carry
We already know the traditional farmer's carry done with heavy dumbbells or kettlebells is the ultimate grip smoker, but changing it up from time to time is never a bad thing.
This version will be more demanding on your digits. Involving your fingers more is another way to make progress.
Do 3-4 sets walking 50-100 feet.
4 – Behind-the-Back Wrist Curls
A little direct forearm work will go a long way – especially if you're already doing the first three exercises. And you certainly don't need to spend more than a few minutes here, so this work can easily be added to the end of your routine a few times a week.
Do 3 sets until you hit a burning failure.
5 – Fat-Bar Reverse Curls with Tempo
If you don't have access to a fat bar, a set of Fat Gripz will work well here too. This is one of my favorite kill-two-birds-with-one-stone exercises where you'll experience a sick pump in your forearms and biceps.
We'll go the extra distance and add a tempo prescription for increased grip demand on both the concentric and eccentric phases.
Do 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps. Use a 3030 tempo: lower for 3 seconds, spend 0 seconds at the bottom, lift for 3 seconds, spend 0 seconds at the top.
Before you go adding Fat Gripz to everything, don't forget that there will still be times when increasing grip demand may not be the goal, so don't add them to every single barbell or dumbbell exercise.