Since the earliest strongman days, feats of grip strength have often been demonstrated. Lifting weird or unstable objects have been synonymous with strength. Many sports, from rock climbing to wrestling, rowing to Jiu-Jitsu, require extraordinary grip strength to be successful. Not only is grip a requirement for sports, it has a very high correlation with health and lifespan. Grip strength continues to show a high correlation with low cardiovascular risk and longer lifespan. Improvements in grip strength have been shown to decrease Blood Pressure by up to 10-15 units of measurement. This was studied after early fighter pilots were passing out at higher speeds. Pilots that gripped the joystick with an intense squeeze stayed conscious. This act kept the blood flow to the brain adequate.
Quite often in certain lifts, it is the grip that gives out first. A secure grips gives the brain/body positive feedback that allows more power to be generated. The grip is neurologically tied to the rotator cuff muscles. Often the first thing I will do with a patient or athlete with a rotator cuff injury is to find safe ways to train the grip.
JL Holdsworth owner of Spot Athletics in Columbus OH did a great presentation at the 2018 SWIS in Toronto on training grip. He outlined 7 ways to train it. JL is wold champion power lifter and also competed at the highest level in grip competitions. I was fortunate enough to meet him at a RPR seminar a few years ago and he did an excellent job presenting then as well.
7 Grip Training Methods
1. Support. This is your classic hold in hands for time. Your classic deadlift or farmers carry is a good example.
2. Crush. The handshake. Captains of Crush is a common tool. The fingers are the movers and the thumb is support.
3. Pinch. Holding two 10lb weight plates together and not letting them fall apart.
4. Friction. This is something that can slide through your hands. Climbing a rope. Doing pull ups with a towel.
5. Clamping/Crimping. This is done almost exclusively with the fingers applying pressure into the palms. Think rock climbing on small crimps and jersey tackling in football.
6. Forearms. Flexion and Extension as well as pronation and supination. The old school wrist roller held at arms length. Holding a dumbbell and doing pronation and supination around the elbow joint.
7. Wrist. Ulnar and Radial deviation. The wrist is the only thing moving. A common way is to use a hammer and control the uneven weighted object into radial and ulnar movements.
Grip Training is not often scene in many strength programs. As you can see there are several styles of grip training and each style has to numerous of examples to list. But, what can't be overstated is the health impacts developing a strong grip can have and also its importance in sports. For these reasons, grip should be given a higher level of importance then it usually is given.