The Little Things: Grip Training

A lot of trainers and coaches out there tell lifters you need to deal with the big rocks first. OK, I can see where they are coming from but that is a bit too, “one-size-fits-all” for me. Sure, if you only have 60 minutes to train, 3-days a week, take care of the big rocks. But I am guessing that many of the people that will actually take the time to read this have more that 60 minutes to train, or at least will make the time to have a high quality training session. So if you are one of those people, I am going to discuss the, “little things” in this blog series that will help you take your lifting to the next level.

(Not Proper Grip Training)

Today we are going to discuss grip training. Grip training has gotten a lot more attention these last couple years, but I still don’t think people focus on it as much as they should. The most obvious exercise that will benefit from an increase in grip strength will be the deadlift. But when you really start thinking about it, you are going to find that grip work will help improve your pull ups, dumbbell work (whenever the weight is hanging, i.e. lunges), and inverted rows just to name a few.

Now that we know how we are going to benefit from improving our grip strength, let’s discuss what we need to do in the weight room.

1. Farmers Caries

I LOVVVEE ME some farmers caries. The first time I did them was way back in 2008 during my internship at Cressey Performance and since then I make sure I do them every time I make it back there. There are a few ways you can perform the farmer carry. The optimal way will be with famer carry bars (see below):

The bars are pretty light (about 20 pounds each) so you should be good throwing on a 45-pound plate on each side if you are a male. Females should start with 25-pound plates.

To perform the farmer carry, make sure you have about 30-40 yards of open space to walk down, slowly turn around, and walk back. Keep in mind there is no specific distance required, but you are going to want about 40-60 seconds under tension. In terms of form make sure to keep your chest up and shoulders back.

If you do not have access to famer carry bars, you can use a regular barbell. Iron plates will work fine, but replicating what it would be like to use farmer carry bars, use bumper plates if you have them.

Dumbbells are also an option, try to challenge yourself and go heavy!

2. Rope or Towel Pull Ups

Not only do rope and towel pull help increase grip strength and forearm size, they make you look like a bad ass.  A prerequisite to doing this pull variation, is that you must be able to perform 10 unassisted bodyweight pull ups. These are simple to setup, just find yourself a strong towel or a 1.5-2 inch thick rope. Throw them over somewhere you can do pull ups and hold on for dear life.


As a bonus challenge, you can time yourself and just hang on as long as you can.

3. High Rep Deadlifting

As I mentioned before, your deadlift will see a great benefit from an increase in grip strength. High rep sets of straight bar or trap bar deadlifts are like endurance runs for your grip. When I say high rep, I am talking 20-30 reps. Use 40-45% of your 1RM. Make sure you still adhere to proper form and technique.

Those should get you started. If you have some more ideas, throw them in the comments section.

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