by Tony Gjokaj November 10, 2020 4 min read

Today, we have weaker grip strength than our parents and their parents of the past. This makes sense, because some of us typically don't work physical labor jobs anymore.

This has some unintended consequences as a result.

While we can talk about the correlation to many posture and health issues, handgrip strength is one good indicator of determining disabilities and mortality in older adults.

As if that isn't enough, poor grip strength also has some correlation to greater risk of depression.

One of the things I primarily have my friends (old clients) who work desk jobs or play games for hours at a time is a mix of various strength exercises - from powerlifting to strongman.

These exercises typically help with core strength, upper body strength, and grip strength - parts of our body that need to be improved due to our prolonged hours of sitting.

This is why I am a huge advocate of grip strength, and ultimately why I am a fan of Farmer's walks.

Farmer's Walks and high-rep overhand deadlifts have built crazy grip strength for myself.

In this post, we are going to dive into grip strength, and ultimately why I believe Farmer's Walks are a excellent for functional strength development.

Building Grip Strength

 

Grip strength is strengthened from the following areas:

  • The Forearms
  • The Fingers & Thumbs
  • The Wrist

Ultimately, your forearms and hands consist of over 30+ small and intricate muscles. 

The Benefits of Building Grip Strength

As some would say: you're only as strong as your grip. This is pretty much true to almost every exercise or lifestyle activity that we will encounter.

Our grip leads hundreds of exercises, and many of the most powerful ones require a strong grip strength.

In fact, we can pretty much use our grip to determine our overall health. According to one study, grip strength can be potentially used as a biomarker for overall health in adults: from bone mineral density to cognitive or brain health.

In addition to that, the benefits that will come from building your grip are the following:

  • A stronger grip will easily lead to bigger forearms. While forearm curls can benefit this, prolonged grip holds can lead to hypertrophy as well.
  • Improves muscular endurance in the upper body. Whether it is for climbing, pull ups, boxing, and more.
  • Reduces the chances of getting injured. Grip strength will reduce the chance of injury from things like golfer's elbow or other forms of tendinitis.
  • A stronger grip has a correlation to a healthier heart. One study found that poor grip strength has a correlation to heart attacks and strokes.
  • Other factors. Poor grip strength has correlation to adverse weight gain in women and mortality in men.

While some of these are only correlations, one thing is important: physical exercise is of utmost importance. In addition, training your grip will not only help your exercises, but will enhance or augment your lifestyle.

So let's talk about grip training.

Training Your Grip

Grip Training Exercises

There are three types of grip training exercises that you should utilize to improve your strength.

  • Crush Grip: The crush grip is the most common thought of what strengthens grip. Quite simply, it's clenching or squeezing things.
  • Pinch Grip: The pinch grip is a grip where you don't touch what your grip with your palms. This is done by doing plate carries as you walk.
  • Support Grip: The support grip is where you hold something, like carrying a bucket full of paint, or even a farmer's walk. This is one of the more powerful grip training exercises to utilize.

While we are really biased in favor of prioritizing the support grip the most, let's dive into the best exercises for each.

Crush Grip: Hand Grip Strengtheners

Hand Grip strengtheners are probably the best exercise you can do to build crush grip strength. This is quite simply because they are made to be squeezed, and they are probably the best way to strengthening your grip strength in this way.

Pinch Grip: Plate Carries

Plate carries focus on building pinch grip strength by carrying the plate with your fingers and thumbs (without using your palms).

This is incredibly hard to do with heavy plates in the beginning, so you might want to start small. For added challenge, try adding an additional plate to extend the length of your grip.

Support Grip: Farmer's Walks

The Farmer's Walk is quite notably one of the most powerful grip strengthening exercises out there. It's one of those exercises that not only will help your big lifts (Squat, Bench, and Deadlift), but it will allow you to handle various everyday tasks.

The Farmer's Walk builds the following muscles:

  • Forearms: The main topic of this post. Farmer's walks will build strength and stabilization in the forearms. It will build larger, denser, and stronger forearms as well as improving the overall health of these muscles.
  • Trapezius: When carrying heavy weight, your trapezius muscles are being stretched as your arms are carrying the weight. 
  • Upper Back Muscles: When doing heavy farmer's walks, you will also utilize your upper back muscles to keep your posture strong. It will also help build strength in your spinal erectors, your lats, and many of the other intricate back muscles.
  • Abdominals: The farmer's walk allows us to build core strength and overall stabilization of your abdominal muscles. For example, I have done single arm farmer's walks which force me to keep balance so that I don't lean to one specific side. This strengthens and stabilizes the opposite side's core significantly.

Lastly, you should utilize farmer's walks at 1-2 days per week at most. Heavy short runs and light long runs should be mixed, with three working sets maximum.

Build That Grip

Ultimately one of the best benefits from building grip strength is not the carryover to your other lifts... it's the ability to open a pickle jar in confidence.

We all know that one buff dude that's a glass cannon.

We're not just about looking good, we want to feeling good and strong.

Reforged Legion! I wanted to take the time to thank you for reading this post! Any questions, comments, recommendations, or insights? Throw them in the comments below, or email me at tony@reforgedperformance.com.

Until next time, Reforged Warriors.

Go out there and seize your destiny!

Tony Gjokaj
Tony Gjokaj

Tony is the Owner of Reforged Performance Nutrition. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help bridge the gap between physical & mental health through fitness.



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