Looking to strengthen my grip
April 9, 2006 9:46 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to strengthen my grip, but those spring handgrips are weak. Do stronger ones exist?

I have a fairly powerful grip, but I'd like to get stronger. The typical hand and forearm hand grips (handles with a spring at the top) you get in a sports store are good, but I can do well over a hundred reps with them, and I don't feel they're building up strength.

I like the handgrips because they're small, and I can use them while driving or using the computer. Is it possible to purchase really tough ones? I'd like some I could do only a few reps on.

Any other grip improving exercises would be appreciated, but it's a decent handgrip style exercise tool I'd be most interested in.
posted by tomble to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you considered getting a Powerball? Aside from being pretty intense for improving grip and forearm strength, they're dang fun too. Only downside is if you intended to do it in a public space, as they can get kinda loud (and bright, if you get a neon), although that is part of the fun.
posted by nightchrome at 10:08 PM on April 9, 2006

I was going to suggest Powerballs, but I noticed someone beat me to it.
posted by lundman at 10:10 PM on April 9, 2006

try using the spring grippy things, but only two fingers at a time - index/middle, then ring/pinkie. Then index/ring, then middle/pinkie. Etc. This also helps your fingers to differentiate.

Dunno if they're still available, but I found that the adjustable ones are MUCH stiffer than the normal ones.
posted by notsnot at 10:25 PM on April 9, 2006

Yes these do exist. A friend got a pair that if you could prove you sucessfully closed, you would get your name published in a body building magazine. There were 4 or so levels raning up to the impossible one. I will have a look around and see if I can find out the name.
posted by scodger at 10:46 PM on April 9, 2006

Best answer: Ok found them.
posted by scodger at 10:47 PM on April 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

OK, this is not a portable or cheap solution.

But rock climbing will do amazing things for your grip. Some rock gyms have something called a campus board that will give you popeye-strength in your forearms. It's an overhanging board with wooden dowels affixed to it. You grab one dowel, and jump to the next, hanging on in spite of the swinging. Using your feet is not allowed. The dowels are rounded, and small. There are also hang-boards. And once you get to the 5.10 level, you'll be working out your forearms one each and every climb.

Once you've mastered that, you'll be breaking hands in handshakes.

It is unlikely you'll want to do this just for grip strength, but hey, why not share?

And for what it's worth: rock climbers live and die by their grip strength, and they consider hand grip exercisers something of a joke.
posted by teece at 10:49 PM on April 9, 2006

Concur with teece :-)
Pick up bouldering, to be specific.
posted by arrowhead at 11:44 PM on April 9, 2006

Make sure you are doing other forearm exercises (i.e. wrist curls) to strengthen the other muscles that rely on your wrist tendons as well.

Once you've mastered that, you'll be breaking hands in handshakes.

That's desirable?
posted by grouse at 12:12 AM on April 10, 2006

3rd teece's suggestion: get your entire life hanging (literally) on whether you can do a 2 finger pull-up, and you'll see that your grip strength will be huge.

This can't be done in a car, though.
posted by zpousman at 6:51 AM on April 10, 2006

The best grip-strengthening exercise I've done used a pvc tube with a weight tied to it.

I used a three-foot pvc tube (use a wide enough diameter to cause your grip to be opened somewhat). Drill a hole through the center of the tube and knot a length of rope in it. Then tie a 5lbs weight (or whatever is appropriate for you) to the end of the rope.

Hold the pvc tube straight out in front of you with both arms at shoulders' height. The length of rope should be long enough so the weight barely touches the floor at this height. Slowly roll the tube until the length of rope is gathered on the tube. Then slowly roll it the other way until the rope is unwravelled. It's important to keep your arms straight out the entire time to isolate your forearms. Repeat till you feel teh burn.

We used to do this exercise when I wrestled and it helped a lot. Different types of curls work too, although indirectly.
posted by mealy-mouthed at 7:10 AM on April 10, 2006

I don't know how the Heavy Grip grippers scodger posted compare to Captains of Crush, but I think the Captains of Crush are the more famous ones (they're the ones Ironmind deals in, anyway).

You can find reviews of them on Amazon, but if you're ordering I highly recommend Ironmind -- really good people, and they'll give you a great catalogue to flip through, too.
posted by ducksauce at 7:31 AM on April 10, 2006

Instead of holding your wrist straight out when you use the grippers, turn your wrist 90 degrees. There should be a big difference.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:43 AM on April 10, 2006

You don't actually have to start rock climbing. You can just get yourself a hang board.
posted by driveler at 8:17 AM on April 10, 2006

yeah, a campus board would definitely do the trick...

Or you could just practice on peoples skulls...
posted by jackofsaxons at 10:14 AM on April 10, 2006

Hang boards are the most effective way to build grip strength. The should come with a good manual. The exercise mealymouth describes is the most effective way to exercise the antagonistic muscles, and such exercises are essential when training grip strength to prevent injury. Campus boards are a way of training contact strength, or the ability to apply your strength quickly, which is essential in climbing.

Wrist curls with a barbell are also good. Select a weight that will result in muscle failure in under 12 reps. Hold the barbell at your waist in front of you, palms forward. Relax your fingers until you are barely holding the bar, then curl the fingers up, raising the bar as high as possible. Complement with reverse wrist curls: Holding a dumbell, rest your forearm on a bench, palm down. Raise the bell as far as possible then lower until straight. Mealymouth's exercise can be substituted for this. To maximize strength gains you want to select weights that will induce muscular failure in 6 reps. Beyond this, you want to look into periodization.

For a hand exerciser I've used a little round rubber ring made by Metolius that you can find in most sporting goods stores that have a climbing section. It is plenty strong, but I've never really been able to use hand devices for strength gains. If I'm able to move them at all, I can do too many reps. They are useful for training endurance though, and mainly for keeping me awake in meetings/road trips. An excellent tool for rehabbing and training antagonistic muscles is Theraputty (think silly putty). It comes in all different strengths and you can buy it on ebay.

Note: When training forearms it is very easy for muscular gains to outpace the strengthening of the connective tissue. Take it slow, and back off at the first sign of overuse in the elbows or fingers.
posted by Manjusri at 2:53 PM on April 10, 2006

Be careful with the campus / hang board idea.

Many climbers, too keen to train hard, end up injuring themselves on a board.
posted by arrowhead at 10:35 PM on April 11, 2006

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