Your grip takes a serious beating. Between all the pull-ups and barbell WODs and everything in between, the skin on your hands and fingers might be feeling completely raw. In fact, you might be experiencing nonstop rips and tears. So, what can we do about it? Let’s talk about how to get a stronger grip. We’ve got five exercises that you’ll find incredibly helpful.
Don’t forget, too, that having the right grips is key. Here are a few options:
How to Get a Stronger Grip
Improving your grip strength doesn’t have to be complex. These five exercises are simple but effective. Keep scrolling!
1. Farmer’s Carries
Pick it up and carry it — that’s the premise of farmer’s carries. You can do it with literally anything and you’re going to work your grip strength and endurance. Dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, and even plates are all fair game. Walk laps with them around the parking lot — or absolutely anywhere else — and you’re going to toughen up both the skin on your hands and fingers as well as the amount of weight your hands are able to hold.
2. Dead Hangs from the Pull-Up Bar
If working on the pull-up bar is bugging your grip, then here’s one piece of advice: Spend more time on the pull-up bar… but don’t actually do anything. Hanging — literally, just hanging — from the bar is one of the best ways to build killer grip strength. Why? Simple. You’ve got the entirety of your body’s weight pulling you down.
3. Towel Pull-Ups
Let’s keep going with the pull-up bar. This one might time a little time to get used to, but it’s well worth the effort.
Wrap a strong towel over the bar, grab a hold of each end with one hand, and do your pull-ups from there.
You’ll likely find this insanely taxing on your grip, largely because it’s a stimulus that you’re not yet used to. If you want to know how to get a stronger grip, towel pull-ups are a given! Plus, as an added bonus, they’re amazing for improving your rope climbs. (Psst! If you need help with this one, read our blog on how to do rope climbs.)
4. Plate Holds
This is exactly what it sounds like. Grab a plate — or a couple plates! — pinch them in between your thumb and fingers, and hold ’em there. This is especially great for building the strength in your thumbs and fingers specifically, which play a huge role in your overall grip strength.
5. Deadlift Holds
Load a moderately heavy to heavy barbell, deadlift it off the ground, and hold it there in position. Straightforward? Yes. Easy? Hardly.
Similar to pull-up dead hangs, this one is so challenging because the entire weight of the bar is merely hanging there in your grip. All you can do is focus on holding on for dear life. This one packs a huge punch because it’ll simultaneously work your forearm strength, which is another facet when it comes to how to get a stronger grip. Nice!
6. Bonus: Anything with Axle Grips
Ah, yes. Axle Grips. We’re big fans of these bad boys.
If you’ve never heard of an axle bar, it’s basically a thicker barbell. A thicker barbell is going to be harder to grip because you can’t get as much purchase on it. Don’t have an axle bar? No problem. When you add Axle Grips to your standards barbell, you turn it into an axle bar, meaning that you can do some serious work on your grip strength and endurance.
You can use an axle bar for just about anything. Bear in mind that if you’re doing the Olympic lifts, you’re going to want to keep the weight lighter than you normally would, since it’s going to be harder to hang onto the barbell.
If you start regularly incorporating any one of these exercises into your programming, you’re going to see results. We’d like to leave you a few final tips for how to get a stronger grip.
Let Some of That Tough Skin Build Up
Some athletes will immediately try to remove any tough calluses that build up. Yes, you want to keep them under control, since calluses that are too thick are more prone to tear. However, you don’t want that fresh baby skin either, which is also equally prone to rips and tears. Having a thin layer of toughened skin is going to work in your favor!
Pro tip: Make sure you read our ultimate guide to gym grips and hand care.
And on a similar note…
Use Hang Grips Strategically
Tools like hand grips, weightlifting belts, and weightlifting straps need to be used under the proper circumstances. Specifically, don’t use your grips all the time. Why? Because of what we just said: Your grip needs that opportunity to toughen up and get stronger. If you’re constantly relying on hand grips, it’s going to be harder to do that.
That being said, having a reliable pair of hand grips in your gym back is an absolute must, as they will come in handy.
Don’t Forget About the Hook Grip
If you’re not already using the hook grip, we highly recommend you switch over. By gripping the barbell first with your thumb and then layering your other fingers over it, you’re essentially turning your hand into a human weightlifting strap. This will make it so that your grip is not nearly as much of a limiting factor during barbell-intensive WODs.
Learn more about why you need the hook grip.
Like anything else in your fitness journey, when it comes to how to get a stronger grip, it takes time and consistency! Chip away at it each week, and you’ll see progress in no time. Go get ’em!