This is a guest post by Jedd Johnson of the Diesel Crew. Jedd is a Certified Strength Coach (CSCS) and Kettlebell Instructor (RKC). Jedd also specializes in grip strength training and readily competes in Grip Strength competitions all over the country, holding the world record in the Two Hands Pinch. For more information on Grip Training, check out his hundreds of grip strength articles, or join him at The Grip Authority, his grip strength coaching site.
Ready for Anything – The Women’s Grip Training Primer
Most of the articles I have written for Murph have been centered around sports-specific grip training, such as baseball, Grip Sport Training, or Feats of Strength, because these are the types of trainees I work and consult with most often. However, this month, I’d like to do something a little bit different and write an article for the Women reading so that they too can begin to strengthen their hands for some of the things they need to do on a regular basis.
Normally, things like using tools, opening jars, and carrying heavy items are things might be tough for some ladies, especially if they have not done any regular hand strength training. With this article, I aim to put an end to that and show three simple movements that women can use to strengthen their hands and be ready the next time a strong Grip is needed.
In this article, I will show the women readers how to begin building better hand strength through a simple three step process:
Step 1 – Increase General Hand Strength
When we train, we already have plenty of opportunities to target our hands more directly, without adding any extra time or exercises to our sessions. Instead we will use the Diesel Principle of Evolution of the Movement to our advantage.
The Kettlebell Swing is a movement that is used by many trainees and it is famous for its ability to train the core and especially the glutes to fire hard. In order to evolve the swing into a more Grip-beneficial movement, perform it in a thumbless manner, without hooking the thumb over the fingers or around the handle, as shown above.
Don’t worry about not involving the thumb. We will work the thumb in the next section. With the swings, make the focus the fingers.
Step 2 – Increase Thumb Strength
The thumb is the forgotten digit on the hand. In many cases, the thumb can be used to overlap the fingers and thus reinforce their grip and increase their endurance. Unfortunately, thumb training is still a form of training that very few people recognize as a need, although it is very simple to train.
One such way to train the thumb is by lifting in an open hand position, such as Claw Grip Inverted Dumbbell Lifts. Simply stand a dumbbell up on its head, and pinch it by the top. This form of training pits the thumb against the fingers and strengthens them.
If you need to stick the thumb or finger into the number on the dumbbell at first, feel free, but eventually try to execute this lift without that form of assistance.
Step 3 – Increase Grip Strength Endurance
Now it is time to work the hands, fingers, thumbs, wrists, and forearms all together at the same time for extended durations in order to increase Grip Strength Endurance. We will do this with Sledge Hammer Swinging.
Grip a Sledge Hammer near the end of the handle, swing it up over your head and strike a tire, tree stump, or other object. A tire is the best because the shock from the impact will not be as great as other harder objects and will allow you to perform more repetitions. Eight-pound sledge hammers are very common at hardware stores and at places like Walmart or Kmart and are perfect for ladies to work with.
Sledge Hammer Striking is a great exercise with other benefits as well. It helps build the arms and shoulders, tests your wind, gets your heart going, and works your core while also increasing your conditioning and burning massive amounts of calories.
If you do not have a sledge hammer, you can also use an old baseball or softball bat with cement poured into the barrel or a weight slid over the end. Doughnuts can be picked up at sporting goods stores that will fit perfectly onto the bat. If using a weight plate, like a 2.5 pounder, you may have to wrap athletic tape around the barrel of the bat in order to make sure the weight stays on, keeping this exercise safe.
I think that if you start out doing one of these exercises just once or twice per week, you will see rapid increases in your hand strength, and you will be stopped by fewer grip strength challenges at work and at home. You will also see improved performance in the gym and in sports while also having better endurance when training or when working.
Remember, your hands are involved in just about all that you do, so make sure to invest some time training them just like you do the rest of your body.
If you are new to resistance exercise and grip training, it is of course a good idea to consult a physician before training, started out slowly and gradually progressing is always a good option.
Think you’ll get big, bulky and manly looking if you work out? No way – that is a myth. If you don’t believe me, check out this interview I did with one of the women with the strongest hands in the world, Adriane Blewitt, the first ever Women’s Captain of Crush.
All the best in your training.
Jedd Johnson is a strength coach and competitive grip sport athlete. He holds the World Record in the Two Hands Pinch, a staple event in many Grip Contests and loves spreading the world about Grip Sport and the importance of strong hands for athletes. For more information on Grip Training, check out his website at DieselCrew.com.