Updated: Sep 23, 2021
Squeeze my hand hard. No that is not a romantic story. That is a game, we used to play as kids, back in the days when holding hands was not a taboo for some. It is very simple. I grab your left or right hand as if I am about to handshake and I squeeze as hard as I can. The goal is to make the other person give up. It was a silly game, but hey, who has not done silly stuff as a kid.
Thinking of it gave me the idea to write about grip strength. In fact, it is very important to be able to grab certain objects securely or to be able to squeeze an object and hang only depending on your grip strength.
Recently my grip strength was tested by my dog Caesar. This dog has an enormous amount of power, no joke. He pulled me down as I was walking down the stairs and if there was not a handrail to hold, it would have been way more painful than it was. What happened exactly was that as we were going down, he pulled, and my food slipped 3 stairs down. I managed to squeeze the handrail, so I did not fall and hurt my sacrum. I stopped in that weird position of holding the handrail with my right hand, holding the leash with the left one. and balancing on the right leg, while the left one was in the air. Pretty fun situation. Thank your grip, for saving me this time!
I have concluded that grip strength is a very useful tool in your arsenal. Every day we need to use it. Maybe we evolved this way or maybe we were created to be like this. I don’t know. I only know that there is a reason behind this extra fifth finger we have called thumb. Apart from giving a thumb up to someone, It allows us to do so much, from precise moves to very strong secured hold. So why not using it? Why not uncover the full potential of this, inventory, if I can call it this way, the hand?
Think about how empowering could it be to be able to hold our body weight with only one hand. Think about the advantages of being able to grab something and holding it for a long period of time.
Can you remember a movie with a scene where the life of a person is, literally in the hands of his friend? Or should I say the hand? When someone is hanging from a cliff or something and you must hold his/her hand with yours, otherwise they will fall. I have always imagined a situation like this and, to be honest, I hope I will never be in one. I see pretty much two outcomes. One is to break the hand from squeezing, due to the adrenaline rush, but saving the person's life. The other one is me not being able to hold and letting that person fall. I do not want to, but I still imagine it.
I never particularly wanted to have a strong grip. This is why I never really trained grip strength intentionally. I have been doing heavy-duty work all my childhood, having to lift or carry odd-shaped objects, loading and unloading, squeezing hard, so I don’t drop and break the stuff. That has developed my grip enough to be able to do some stuff. But it was not strong enough until I understood the mechanics of the hand and realized that I can simply incorporate grip exercise in every single lift that involves my hands.
Let me explain.
Your hand is made of so many small bones, muscles, ligaments, and tissues which makes it able to move in such a precise manner. However, it is designed as well to be able to resist huge amounts of force. This happens thanks to the muscles of the forearm. They provide the force and strength needed for your fingers to resist. And this is what we can use, in order to make our grip bulletproof.
It is a very simple approach that requires not much. In fact, just a bit of increased awareness is more than enough.
Just like anything else, it needs practice and consistency. However, grip strength can be trained very frequently, since it is used throughout the entire day and the recovery rates are a bit faster. That does not mean that you should train heavy forearm lifting every day. It means that you can incorporate grip strength exercise into pretty much any other lift and, resulting in saving time and increasing frequency.
So, let’s list the 3 simple rules you need, to improve your grip strength, without even noticing.
1. Be mindful or aware when you use your grip.
Seriously. You use your hands way more than you think throughout the day. Just notice it. Every time you grab something, every time you carry something, or having to hold something in your hands. Imagine that you intentionally secure the catch. You wrap your whole hand around it and if it is not fragile of course, squeeze it as hard as possible. Take the trolleys in the supermarket for instance. Hold the handles very very tight. Mindfully. The shopping bags with handles. Squeeze your fist around the handles, as if someone might steal it. Again, putting your brain into what you want to improve.
2. Bring rule number 1 in the gym.
Deadlifts, bench presses, pull-ups, dumbbell work, barbell work. Everything that requires your hands to be squeezing something. Think about securing and squeezing whatever you are holding, so much as if you are about to break it. This way you are going to train your grip, even more frequently than you train your whole body, without even dedicating time for it. And it is an applicable strength as well.
3. Do not use any wrist straps.
Well, unless you are doing PR with a like 300 kg, I agree to use some. Wrist straps have their applications, but for 95% of the people, they are more of a detriment for your overall strength. We have the fortune to be able to use our thumb and make the grip extremely secured. Train it. Use full grip or wrap your thumb over the other fingers when holding something. This way you are going to use the full potential of your grip, recruit more muscles and improve your strength.
So, there you go guys. Nothing specific, nothing new, nothing that you can’t try on your own and see results. Just a simple experience wrapped in a small blog, aiming to raise your awareness and improve your life.