Article written by Marshall White for LiftBigEatBig.com
Grip it and rip it!!!! You hear this all the time in reference to deadlifting. Never once have I heard “Lightly hold on to the bar and pull!” Why? Because having a strong grip is ESSENTIAL to being strong. This doesn’t just apply to deadlift either, without a strong grip you are not as strong as you can be.
Remember when you were young and every time you shook your dad’s hand it felt like he was going to crush it? Remember how it also seemed as though even though you were 15-18 years old and training like an animal in school your dad was always WAY stronger than you, could kick the crap outta you if he wanted to and he didn’t workout at all? You think that was a coincidence? Nope it wasn’t. That’s called grown ass man strength and it all stems from that badass grip he got from turning a wrench, or fighting like a bull when he was younger, or just the years and years of gripping a bat on the church softball team. Can you imagine what would have happened if your dad had not only trained his grip but also trained the rest of his body?
As an athlete you are only as strong as your weakest link and if that link just so happens to be your grip then you are not reaching your full potential. A strong grip will increase your bench press, your squat, your snatch and clean, your golf swing and believe it or not once your grip strength increases so will things like your speed and vertical jump as a by-product of all those other lifts increasing. An athlete that is strong all the way around is a COMPLETE ATHLETE, there are no holes in his or her game. So, how do we train grip?
The first thing to know about grip is there are 2 major kinds, and I will break these down for you with ways to train them.
1. Crushing grip
This is the “closing the hand” grip, the grip used to shake a hand, or to grab to make a tackle. This grip can be trained by using “grippers”, I’m sure you have all seen the guy in the airport with the metal contraption in his hand just closing it for hours. My favorite crushing grip tools to use are the Captains of Crush that can be purchased at ironmind.com. One thing to remember though is that crushing grip is very easily overtrained so keep the crushing to once a week or so and once you feel that sick burn happening in your forearms and hands shut it down for the day.
2. Supportive Grip
This is the grip that helps you hold onto things once the hand is already closed, think bench press, farmers walk, or swinging a bat. This grip in my opinion is the most important type of grip and if your supportive grip is strong your crushing grip will get stronger by default because there is a certain element of crushing that comes into play as your supportive grip begins to tire (you have to “crush” your hand in order to keep holding on). My favorite way to train my supportive grip is farmers walks and double overhand straight grip deadlifts(no hook grip). Again, keep in mind that grip as a whole is very easy to overtrain. This is why you see strongmen using straps on deadlifts so much. After doing a 380 per hand farmers walk and an axle clean and press event the grip will be too smoked to hold on to a big 800+ deadlift. This applies to training as well. If you are going to farmers walk that week, on all your warm-ups for deadlift pull double overhand straight grip, then strap up when it comes to working sets so the rest of your body still gets work by handling big weight. If you deadlift or oly lift without straps or a hook grip that week don’t add farmers walk in. Simple as that.