How is your grip? is it weak & pathetic like mine was a few years ago? Then this is the post for you. When i started weightlifting a few years ago, I had no idea how important grip strength was till I started deadlifting heavy weights. I used to break my form during deadlifts which led me to injuring my lower back. I started looking for ways to improve my grip strength then i found Farmer’s walk & reverse barbell curls/ plate curl which are my go-to exercises for improving fore arm strength. We will also look at plate pinches, wrist curls, wrist rotations & spring hand grip. Be careful performing this exercise,
My roommate introduced this exercise to me & I got hooked by it since it’s so easy of an exercise. You just need to grab a pair of heavy dumbbells & walk around the gym. Easy, right? wrong. You have to make sure you pick the right size weight, something you can handle as you walk otherwise, you risk injuring your wrist. To find out which dumbbell weights to use, I started off by picking up 60 lb dumbbells & seeing how they feel; meaning were they too light, just light, heavy or too heavy. I ended up on settling on 80 lb dumbbells which were heavy for me at the time. It was hard at first but, I eventually got the hang of it. If walking is too much of a stretch for you, you can stand in place for 30 seconds. I usually use 110 lb or 115 lb dumbbells for this exercise when I stand in place. You can also use kettlebells or farmer walk bars.
Reverse Curl/ Plate Curl
Reverse barbell curls are my second favourite exercise to strengthen my forearm. You can also use an EZ curl bar with weights for this exercise. Start off by grabbing the bar shoulder wide then space out your feet shoulder width. With your arms fixed, raise the bar all the way up just to below your chin; your biceps & forearms should touch at this point before going back down to your thighs. repeat until failure. To make the exercise more difficult, you can vary where you grip the bar.
This exercise can also be performed with a plate. To perform the plate curl, start by standing up straight with a weighted plate held by both hands in the East-West direction. Start with the weighted plate on your thighs. Keeping your arms static, lift the plate till you touch your biceps with your forearms. You should feel your muscles tightening up then, lower the plate back to your starting position.
The curl is mainly an exercise for biceps, but it’s also a good work out for the lower arm and hand strength.
I usually perform this exercise from time to time but not as consistent as I would like to. To perform the plate pinch, you can use a 45-lb plate or 2-10 lb plates to perform the exercise. I Usually use the 45-lb plates. To start, grip the plate with your fingers & squeeze; your elbows should be slightly bent. Hold this position for as long as you can & repeat for 3-4 sets. You can start with one side & switch to the other or you can exercise both forearms at the same time.
Wrist curls can be very brutal, but they are also a fun way to exercise you’re forearm. To perform this exercise, use a dumbbell or a barbell. To start, kneel down over a flat bench with the barbell/ dumbbell in your hands. Forearms should be resting on the bench with wrists hanging over the edge. Palms can face up or down for this exercise. Start by curling your wrists upwards then slowly lower your wrists down, your forearms should be motionless when performing this movement. Repeat until you can’t perform the exercise anymore.
A variation of this exercise can be performed while seated. Your thigh can be used as a resting place for you forearm with your wrists hanging over the knees.
This is also one of Rambo’s go to exercises for fore arm exercise using a dumbbell.
I have performed this exercise a handful of times & am still learning it. To perform this exercise, you can use a straight bar or a wrist roller. Start off by holding a barbell with palms facing down & hands shoulder width. Starting on one side, roll your wrist as though you are rolling a stack of paper then alternate to the other side.
You should be familiar with one of this since you see it all the time around the office being used as a stress reliever. Spring hand grip strength comes in various weights & types. To use it just squeeze as hard as you can for as long as you can then switch to the other side.
Grip strength is very important when lifting heavy weights. Most people only relate having good grip strength for heavier deadlift weight, but grip strength is also good for bench & overhead press. Farmer’s walk with a weighted barbell or weighted EZ Curl bar, & reverse barbell curls which can also be performed using dumbbells, are my 2 favourite exercises to improve grip strength. Reverse barbell exercise is also good for biceps & hand strength. Plate pinching, wrist rotations & spring hand grip strength conclude my list of exercises to improve grip strength.
When you start working out your forearm, take it easy. Your forearms will be very sore if you overdo it & you still need to function next day whether it’s at work or running errands. Women can perform these exercises too with lighter weights. Beginners can get help from trainers at the gym or fellow weightlifters, just ask them am sure one of them will be happy to help if they are familiar with the exercise. Caution should be exercised when performing this exercises as a beginner to avoid injury. Start with lighter weights & work your way up. Which exercises do you prefer for improving your grip strength, please let me know by leaving a comment below.