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WOD: AMRAP 15
10 Shoulder-to-OH (115/75#)
Grip strength is one of the most often forgotten or ignored muscle groupings in the fitness world, but it is actually incredibly important… Dumb bell carries, dumb bell snatches, toes to bar, dead lifts, kettle bell swings. How well are your hands and forearms feeling after 100 reps of these any of these movements?
If this hasn’t convinced you, here are some additional benefits to having a stronger grip:
1. Stronger Handshake- Like it or not, we are often judged by the quality of our handshake. No one wants to shake a dead fish. Strong grip=Strong Handshake.
2. Better Endurance- When your hands and lower arms are strong, you will be able to put in more reps than dead-fish-weak-hands over there who’s dropping his kettle bell and shaking out his hands on rep number 20.
3. Better later life quality- Research has actually come out that shows how grip strength is a reliable indicator for quality of life at an older age. Read about it here>http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=188748
4. Better injury reliance- Muscles and connective tissues that are strengthened are more injury-resistant. If injury does end up taking place, stronger tissue recovers faster.
What is grip strength?
Grip strength is not just hand strength. There are a lot of things to consider when talking about grip. Grip includes everything from the musculature near the elbow down to the finger tips. As we move downward, the gripping muscles pass through the forearms, the wrists, and into the hands, fingers, and thumbs — and not only through the front of the forearms, but also the back of forearms.
If you are interested in training the lower arms, it is important to remember to train all these areas on the lower arm. This is important because, for most of us, grip is something we don’t train on a regular basis, and there is always risk of injury, especially tendonitis.
What you can do about grip strength:
If you are having problems in this area, make it a goal to do some of these exercises after a WOD!
This is done by setting up two or more plates smooth-sides-out and then lifting them off the floor in a pinch grip. Common combinations include 4-tens, 2-25’s, and 7-fives. If you can pinch 5-tens, 2-35’s, or 8-fives, then you have an excellent grip. If you can pinch 6-tens, 2-45’s, or 3-25’s, then you are world class. Slowly increase the weight, and once you find your max, drop down to 70% of your PR. Try walking around the gym while holding onto the plates for 2 minutes. If you drop the plates, you’ve got 20 burpees.
Iverted Dumbbell Deadlift:
Towels can be used for instant thick and dynamic gripping surfaces (make sure it is a strong towel that won’t rip). For instance, you can loop a towel over a bar and perform pull-ups (similar to the rope pull-ups below), attach one to a cable machine for pull-downs and rows, or around a kettlebell (shown above) for an even more dynamic and metabolic method of training the grip.
Hook your thumb over the edge of a 25-lb plate and support it with your palm and straight fingers. Next, try to perform a curl with the plate, trying to keep your wrist and fingers from buckling under the pressure. This is one of the most basic grip training methods, yet one of the most difficult.
Rope training is awesome for cardio and conditioning, but many do not realize how hard it hits the grip and forearms as well.
With these exercises, be sure to…
Talk to the coaches: That’s why they are here! They want to help you succeed and they will have insight into how to help you achieve your goals.
Start out light: Begin by modifying some of your regular lifting so that it is more grip-intense and then from there add more work. For instance, you can use a towel as the handle on rows for a couple of weeks to get the hands used to working harder, then you can begin adding other implements and techniques into the training as well.
Move up slowly: For those just starting out with grip training, I like to suggest one or two grip-intensive lifts per session once per week for two weeks. After two weeks, move up to two workouts where you include grip-specific lifts. After a month, shoot for workouts where you train the grip with serious intentions up to 3 times a week. This is usually enough for just about everybody.
Watch the volume: When performing grip lifts separate from the rest of your routine, keep an eye on the volume. Think of training volume as the number of sets and reps in a workout. Most people progress very well with grip strength if they stay in the 3 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 repetitions range when performing lifts like the Two Hands Pinch. That is a total of roughly 9 to 25 total attempts in a workout. It’s not that much.
Train the extensors: To keep progressing, make sure to include training for the muscles on the back of the hand, the extensors. You can do this easily and on the cheap by using the large rubber bands found on heads of broccoli or with #84 rubber bands from Staples. Wrap the rubber band around the fingers and thumb and then open them against the resistance of the band. This is a surprisingly effective way to work the extensors. If you can do more than 20 repetitions, then try adding another rubber band in order to increase the resistance or hold the opened position for 2 or 3 seconds before doing the next repetition.
**pictures and content from artofmanliness.com and Jedd Johnson,