From rock climbing to wrestling to weightlifting, the strength of your hands and their grip have a massive – if understated – effect on your performance. Myriad exercises, some with standard gym equipment and others with household items, help strengthen weak hands or grips. To make hand strengthening a personal fitness goal, select three or four exercises to create a hand-focused workout regimen.
Spring-loaded hand gripper
Dumbbell with weight plates
Barbell with weight plates
Perform full-body, loosening warm-ups, such a jogging or yoga, before your regimen and full-body, dynamic stretches before or after training.
Perform a right-hand set and a left-hand set of each exercise in your hand regimen to maintain an even distribution of hand strength. Do your hand regimen one to three times weekly, allowing your muscles at least 24 hours of recovery between workout days.
When using weights, scale the amount of weight to your skill and comfort level. As a rule of thumb, if you feel a healthy tightness in the targeted muscles at the end of one set, you have enough weight. Always err on the side of caution and gradually increase the amount of weight as you train over the course of weeks.
To develop your grip strength during weight training, do not use straps. Employ a tight grip during every lift and top off the last lift of your set with a static hold.
Substitute a wet towel for a tennis ball for an effective squeezing exercise.
General hand-strengthening and grip-strengthening exercises and techniques are recommended for those in good health; if your hand has been injured and needs rehabilitation, consult a doctor or physical therapist.
Do not attempt towel-grip exercises unless you are completely comfortable with the standard form of the exercise.
Perform simple, equipment-free hand exercises. For a finger adduction exercise, put your open-palmed hand on a hard, flat surface. Simply squeeze all of you digits together – keep all your fingers extended straight out, closing the gap between fingers and bringing your thumb up against the side of your palm as tightly as you can without pain. Hold for five counts and perform in sets of 10. To do a thumb opposition exercise, tightly press the pad of your thumb against the pad of your index finger and hold for three sets of five counts. Repeat this thumb-pressing motion on each finger.
Increase hand, forearm, wrist and grip strength with squeezing exercises. Use a spring-loaded hand gripper, slowly squeezing the handles together as you make a fist. As an alternative, simple squeeze a tennis ball as hard as you comfortably can, holding the squeeze for five counts. For squeezing exercises such as these, perform 10 to 15 reps per set.
Use a resistance band for intermediate-level hand and wrist strengthening. Try a wrist flexion. Stand straight with your feet securing one end of the band. With your arm forming a 90-degree angle between your bicep and forearm, hold the other end of the band firmly in your fist. Support your wrist by holding it steady with the opposing hand. Without moving your arm or the rest of your body, curl your fist inward toward your wrist as far as possible without pain. Perform 10 reps in sets of three.
Bring a towel into your workout routine – used in conjunction with exercise equipment, this simple tool lends itself to numerous advanced hand-strengthening exercises. To increase your hand's isometric crushing strength, wrap the towel securely around the bar of a weighted dumbbell and lift the dumbbell by the towel rather than the handle using proper hammer curl form. Start with 12 reps and three sets. You can also hold a dumbbell this way for the farmer's walk exercise, with entails simply holding the weight at your side as you walk slowly for about 300 feet.
Lift a barbell as though curling it and hold it in the static position at the top of the lift – your arms forming a 90-degree angle between your biceps and forearm – for 90 seconds. Roll a towel around the barbell to thicken the grip and increase the challenge of the exercise. This exercise builds grip and holding strength. Widen your grip on the barbell to work your pinching strength.
Things You'll Need
- Ask the Trainer: Why It's Extremely Important to Improve Your Grip with Grip Exercises
- PhysioAdvisor.com: Hand Strengthening Exercises
- Functional Hand Strength: How Stronger Hands Will Help Master the Rock
- BodyBuilding.com: Get to Grips with Hand Strength
- Critical Bench: Develop Crushing Wrist, Grip, and Forearms Strength
- Muscle Prodigy: 5 Tips for Maximizing Your Deadlift Grip
Dan Ketchum has been a professional writer since 2003, with work appearing online and offline in Word Riot, Bazooka Magazine, Anemone Sidecar, Trails and more. Dan's diverse professional background spans from costume design and screenwriting to mixology, manual labor and video game industry publicity.