Get a Grip

Have you ever shook hands with someone and felt like you were holding a dead fish? A word of advice – keep the handshake short, sweet and firm. How you grip says a lot about you.

What you may not know is that your grip strength is actually directly related to your lifespan. Scientists conducted a large-scale international study in 2015 and collected data from 142,000 grip strength measurements to better understand disease and longevity. They discovered that for each 11-pound decrease in grip strength, there is a 16% higher risk of death from any cause for men and a 20% increase for women.

If you don’t have one, it’s time to get a grip. I don’t know if this is a chicken or the egg phenomena, but I’m not about to wait and see. I train grip with all of my clients. My personal all-time favorite grip exercises are heavy farmers carries and overhand deadlift. I usually save grip work until the of the session because once your grip is shot it takes significant time to recover.

Training your grip familiarize you with your personal grip capacity. This is important because your daily grip capacity indicates your readiness for activity. So if you start working out and find that your grip feels weak, it’s a sign that your central nervous system is fatigued. Take the day off of training to allow yourself to recover rather than push through your workout. In doing so, you will prevent injury and your next training session will contribute to your well being rather than compromise it.

You don’t need to spend a lot of training time to increase your grip strength, but you do need to work consistently at it. 3-5 intense sets of grip work 3-5 times a week is sufficient.

There are several categories of grip strength, but for the sake of simplicity, I will outline 3 here:

  • Crushing- The four fingers provide the power – think handshake.
  • Pinching- The thumb provides the power – think lifting up a rock with an open hand.
  • Supporting- The hand holds on to something for a long time- think hanging from a pull up bar.

If you find that you really enjoy the challenge and mental aspect of grip training, you might consider entering a competition. There is actually a whole sport organized around competing for grip strength! The company Iron Mind organizes competitions and sells an incredible array of grip strength implements

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