Not progressing with your overall strength or your arm size? Grip strength is likely holding you back. Farmer's walks help, but they're typically done with high weight for short distances. Try something new: go with light weight.
To be completely proficient in an exercise or skill, the nervous system needs to be competent and capable at all intensities. Stop skipping over that lighter weight like you always do. No, it's not "too easy" – light weights get heavy the longer you hold them.
The benefits include:
- Increased grip endurance: More pull-ups, swings, deadlifts, cleans, etc.
- A more well-rounded, controlled, stronger grip
- Hypertrophy. Forearm training can be tedious, so get the added size benefit while working on grip strength.
To create a hypertrophic effect, utilize both mechanical tension and metabolic stress or TUT (time under tension). TUT increases muscle growth, and these carries have plenty of it.
Where to Begin
Divide your bodyweight in half. Now do it again. With that 25% of your bodyweight number in mind, grab a dumbbell or kettlebell of equal weight in each hand. Set a timer and start walking. A 200 pound person would use either two 24kg kettlebells or two 50 pound dumbbells and take a walk.
- 1 minute walk: That's cute.
- 2 minute walk: You've got some work to do, buddy.
- 3 minute walk: Respectable. Kind of like bench-pressing your own bodyweight, right?
- 4 minute walk: Good work!
- 5 minute walk: You are officially awesome.
Programming for Grip Strength
Simply do these on an off day, as a finisher to another workout, or in between non-grip intensive lower-body movements. Do it once or twice per week, for 1-3 sets each session. Try to shave 30-45 seconds off of your max time for working sets and retest your max time every 4-6 weeks.
For those Kings of the Gym out there, use Fat Gripz or towels around the handle for added intensity, but be prepared to be humbled.