I want to improve my grip.
This is always one of the common responses I get when I ask wrestlers what their lifting goals are.
So I wanted to take this opportunity to detail a number of ways you can add functional grip strengthening to your lifting program.
First off, I do want to say that even though I don’t write about it on my blog often, I think there is some value in direct grip work. I even include some exercises in my Wrestler Strength System eBook.
However, I definitely think that from a functional standpoint, using grip implements and working them in to your pulling exercises is going to carry over the best.
Think about it- you’re never just trying to grab and hold your opponent.
You’re looking to get a good grip on him (collar tie, Russian, wrist control, etc.) and then move him. And usually when you try to move him you’re pulling him.
So, rather than perform pulling exercises and then grip exercises, I’ve found that performing them together makes more sense.
Anyway, I’ll now go into detail on how you can better challenge your grip while performing the exercises in your strength training program.
DB Row and Curl Press
The Fat Gripz are super easy to use. Simply open them up:
And place them over any handle (in this case a dumbbell handle).
From there perform the exercise.
Here are some various DB Rows.
I don’t use the last version often. I just included it as part of a “progression video” for a client.
And here’s a video of a Curl Press.
Sometimes I’ll rotate the dumbbells for the press (as shown).
Sometimes I just do a Hammer Curl and Neutral Grip Press.
I don’t think over-analyzing this lift is important. It’s just a good, compound lift.
Weighted or Grip Chinup
Using something to challenge your grip when doing chinups/pullups is a must.
If you’re a monster, you can add weight to increase the difficulty.
The two best ways to do this are to hang a Jiu Jitsu Gi over the top of a rack (shown below), or put the Fat Gripz on the chinup bar (not shown, but same procedure as above).
You can also use a rope…and you can get crazy with it like I show in this old video:
This is one of my old clients who was preparing for the Cadet Pan-Am Tournament.
You can also hang a Gi or attach the Fat Gripz to nearly any attachment to a cable machine:
I’ve spent over a thousand dollars on a Fat Bar and various Fat Bar cable attachments. I haven’t looked at the price of the Fat Gripz recently, but I can’t imagine they’re over $50.
Also, on a quick side note- while you can use towels, I highly suggest a getting a Jiu-Jitsu Gi. I’ve been using the one I bought years ago and there are no signs of tears.
I just did a quick search on eBay and found many options below $35. So check that out or just search for “cheap Jiu-Jitsu Gis” on Google.
Just be sure you specify Jiu-Jitsu because many types of martial arts use Gis. In fact, the first one I used was a light weight Karate Gi from college.
Needless to say, the poor light weight Karate Gi was torn up within a few months.
In a nutshell the idea is to either:
A) Increase the thickness of the bar you’re holding on to (Fat Gripz, Grip 4orce, PVC pipe, wrapping a towel around, etc.)
B) Use material that makes it harder to grip (Gi, towel, shirt, rope, etc.)
Really it’s just about being creative and working with what you have.
So start giving these options a shot in your program and let me know how it goes.