How To Develop Grip Strength And Forearms With Grippers

 

Many bodybuilders avoid dedicated forearm training and hand exercises, but even those who include specific forearm exercises in their workout routine will often leave out exercises that specifically work the muscles and tendons in the hands and fingers. But why on earth would you do that? Why would a bodybuilder devote hours per week developing every nook and cranny of their deltoids or quadriceps and then do hardly anything for their forearms and hands?

The answer is that many bodybuilders have been told that you don’t need to do any grip or forearm training. But who told them that? Other bodybuilders…typically, other bodybuilders who also rely on hooks and straps to help them do heavy pulldowns, deadlifts and rows instead of relying on pure grip strength.

Don’t listen to those guys! You are a bodybuilder, and your goal is to develop ALL the muscles of your body – forearms and hands included!

But how do you improve your grip strength and forearm strength?

Dumbbell And Barbell Exercises For Huge, Ripped Forearms

First of all, you’re going to have to start doing wrist curls, reverse wrist curls, and hammer curls and reverse curls again. Oh yeah. You knew that already. You did those before. And now you don’t, so start doing them again, and start adding some weight to those exercises and do both high and low rep sets to failure to thoroughly work the forearms.

Specialized Exercises And Equipment For Massive Grip Strength

There are all kinds of fun ways to build grip and hand strength, some of which involve buckets of sand and weird mail-order gadgets. Those methods can work, so if they interest you, then go for it.

heavy duty hand grippers from gnc

My babies…

But my favorite method to improve grip strength is to simply use your basic hand grippers. But don’t waste your money on those foam-padded things at the giant sporting goods store. If it’s got plastic or padding on it, forget about it. Instead, you want to get a set (or two) of the heavy duty, solid steel grippers…the kind that scrape the skin off your palms and make your fingers hurt the first time you use them! If you try one out and can’t even do 5 reps without using both hands – THAT’S THE ONE!

Okay, well honestly, you could start with the cheap, easy ones.  But once you can do 50+ reps per hand, then it’s time to graduate to the heavy duty grippers.

I got my 2 sets on clearance from my local GNC store for about 20 bucks each (that was a steal!). The sets came with 3 different grippers, all at different resistance levels (50/100/150 lbs and 200/250/300 lbs). I got the “advanced” set at first, but that was a mistake for me. Try the easier set first and see how that goes before buying the advanced one.

You can also buy high quality grippers online from guys like Captains of Crush and Heavy Grips.

The instructions will typically tell you to perform grip work three times per week, but that’s probably overkill for most of us. Two or three sets beyond failure – with forced reps using your other hand – once or occasionally twice per week is plenty.  I’ve always had outstanding results by training super hard for several weeks and then taking a break for up to 30 days before training my grip again.  Some guys might think that’s ridiculous, but all you Mike Mentzer fans out there will know what I’m talking about.  Your forearms come back even stronger after a layoff.

Sample Gripper Training Workout #1 (high reps)

  • 1×10 (standard grip) warmup set with 50 lbs***
  • 1×10 (reverse grip) warmup set with 50 lbs
  • 2×50 (standard grip) with 50 lbs
  • 2×50 (reverse grip) with 50 lbs
  • (alternate sets between standard and reverse grip)
  • once you can do this workout easily, move on to Workout #2
  • *** use 50 lb (or lighter) resistance hand gripper. Basic sporting goods store grippers are ok.

Sample Gripper Training Workout #2 (low reps)

  • 1×20 (standard grip) warmup set with 50 lbs
  • 1×1 (standard grip) warmup set with 100 lbs
  • 2×5 (standard grip) with 100 lbs
  • 2×5 (reverse grip) with 100 lbs
  • (alternate sets between standard and reverse grip)
  • once you can do this workout easily, move on to Workout #3

Sample Gripper Training Workout #3 (moderate reps)

  • 1×20 (standard grip) warmup set with 50 lbs
  • 1×1 (standard grip) warmup set with 100 lbs
  • 2×12 (standard grip) with 100 lbs
  • 2×12 (reverse grip) with 100 lbs
  • (alternate sets between standard and reverse grip)
  • once you can do this workout easily, increase reps to 25 per set
  • once you can do that easily, it’s time to move up to the 150 lb gripper and repeat Workout #1

When you first move from the 50 pound hand grip to the 100 pound grip, you might only be able to do a few full reps before your strength starts giving out, and that’s fine. Keep pushing through to the end of the set, using half reps, partials and even forced reps (with aid from alternate hand) to hit your numbers. The strength will come in due time.

standard grip

standard grip

 

hand grip exercise: reverse grip

reverse grip

 

All photos copyright Chris Desatoff.

Chris Desatoff is a cartoonist and blogger.  Check out his blog at www.chrisdesatoff.com

gripper in action