Developing hand strength and a strong grip should be part of everybody’s fitness plan. The key exercises to strengthen your hands are simple to perform and require only basic equipment. Yet most of us neglect hand health preferring instead to work on more glamorous aspects of our physique. In this guide you’ll discover how easy it is to incorporate a basic hand and grip workout into your fitness routine and you’ll be provided with a workout template that will become the foundation of your hand strength training.
Why You Should Strengthen Your Hands
So much about the way we live and work attacks the natural functioning of our bodies particularly at the level of biomechanics. Our posture, mobility and hand health is being compromised by our sedentary lifestyles.
If we want the later years of our life to be productive, enjoyable and fulfilling, then we need to look after our bodies throughout our lives.
If you’re reading this and you are over the age of 60 and haven’t been regularly exercising, don’t fret! But please do read this article about building muscle after the age of 60. Few people harness the longevity treasures hidden in the most mundane places: our diet and our rhythm of life, to name the two most significant. The article linked to will show you how to make tremendous improvements in your health.
Your hands are you a primary means of interacting with the world. Whether it be for a sport, for combat, for lifting heavy bags of shopping or simply for gardening – strong hands will make your life easier.
How to Strengthen Your Hand Grip
There are different ways you can improve your hand and grip strength, both in terms of direct training or indirect training. Direct training involves targeting your hands as a specific body part in your weekly training plan, whereas indirect training is where you rely on heavy compound lifts such as deadlifts or farmers walks to stimulate an improvement in your grip strength.
Both approaches are useful and it’s not an either/or decision in which way to train your hands. In fact, training both methods will likely lead to synergistic benefits. However, for the scope of this guide we’re focusing on direct training of the hands and grip for overall hand health.
I would encourage you to take a careful and incremental approach to hand strength training.
My typical approach to any new training regime is to go at it like a crazed man! This isn’t a good approach and is the quickest route to injury.
Because our hands are so important for everyday life it’s crucial that we don’t train them recklessly. The last thing you want to do is to injure your hands which will not only frustrate your hand strength goals but also your overall fitness program.
I have found that grip strength develops quite quickly with consistent training. In fact, consistency and frequency of training negate the need for heroics in terms of the amount of resistance used.
If you’re completely new to hand strength training then take it easy and for the first month and focus upon quality reps and completing the workout rather than adding more resistance each session.
This hand workout can be completed in under 15 minutes and can be tailored to challenge your increasing grip strength over time, simply by increasing the reps or switching up your gripper.
The Exercises to Strengthen Hand Grip
This is a simple hand workout that is guaranteed to strengthen your hands.
Sets 1 to 6 are your warm-up – DON’T SKIP THEM! It’s very important that your hands and fingers are thoroughly warmed up and mobilized before you start on the grip work.
Sets 19-21 are your warm down and these stretches will feel so good after completing the workout. Don’t just rock back and forth however, as you did in the warm-up but try to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
Equipment you will need:
- Adjustable hand grippers
- Higher tension hand grippers – ideally 2 different tensions
|1||Clench & Stretch||Both||30||Make a fist and then fully extend your fingers. Repeat|
|2||Thumb & Finger Curls||Both||10||10 reps per digit, starting with the thumb and working to the pinkie. Curl each digit as close to it's base as possible, then stretch it out. Repeat.|
|3||Finger Raises||Both||10||10 reps per digit. Start with both hands on a flat surface and lift each digit as far back as possible before returning to the start.|
|4||Wrist Stretch: Hands Forward||Both||5||On all fours, place your hands directly beneath your shoulders, fingers facing forwards. Gently rock back and forth to stretch all the tendons of your fingers and wrist.|
|5||Wrist Stretch: Side to Side||Both||5||On all fours, place your hands directly beneath your shoulder, fingers facing inwards toward each other. Gently rock side-to-side.|
|6||Wrist Stretch: Hands Backward||Both||5||On all fours, place your hands directly beneath your shoulder, fingers facing towards your knees. Gently rock back and forth.|
|7||Grippers - Spring Above Hand||Left||20||Level 1 resistance (your lightest gripper - I use a variable gripper for this)|
|8||Grippers - Spring Above Hand||Right||20||Level 1 resistance|
|9||Grippers - Spring Above Hand||Left||20||Level 2 resistance|
|10||Grippers - Spring Above Hand||Right||20||Level 2 resistance|
|11||Grippers - Spring Above Hand||Left||20||Level 3 resistance|
|12||Grippers - Spring Above Hand||Right||20||Level 3 resistance|
|13||Grippers - Spring Below Hand||Left||20||Level 3 resistance - turn the gripper upside down|
|14||Grippers - Spring Below Hand||Right||20||Level 3 resistance - turn the gripper upside down|
|15||Grippers - Spring Below Hand||Left||20||Level 3 resistance - turn the gripper upside down|
|16||Grippers - Spring Below Hand||Right||20||Level 3 resistance - turn the gripper upside down|
|17||Gripper Squeeze & Hold||Left||1 minute||Start light, but try and hold the gripper closed for a full minute.|
|18||Gripper Squeeze & Hold||Right||2 minute||Start light, but try and hold the gripper closed for a full minute.|
|19||Wrist Stretch: Hands Forward||Both||5||On all fours, place your hands directly beneath your shoulders, fingers facing forwards. Gently rock back and forth to stretch all the tendons of your fingers and wrist.|
|20||Wrist Stretch: Side to Side||Both||5||On all fours, place your hands directly beneath your shoulder, fingers facing inwards toward each other. Gently rock side-to-side.|
|21||Wrist Stretch: Hands Backward||Both||5||On all fours, place your hands directly beneath your shoulder, fingers facing towards your knees. Gently rock back and forth.|
To make life easier for you, I have included a video clip showing how to perform wrist stretches.
If you’re just starting out with grip training, I’d suggest picking up one adjustable gripper and using that for a month before moving on to the heavier gauge grippers.
For optimum development and grip strength progression, aim to repeat this workout three times in a week, with one day of rest between each session.
Given how short the workout is, there’s no reason why you can’t attach it to the end of one of your main workouts.
Did You Crush it?
If you got through the entire workout, drop me a note below and let me know how you got on. Hopefully your forearms are on fire and your hands are feeling pumped.
If you enjoyed learning about which are the best exercises to strengthen hand grip then you may also enjoy this article about creatine and why it is the only supplement I’d recommend.