How To Get Stronger At Everything
We should ALL look to incorporate this into our training…
Okay, so I was only telling a half truth when I said there was just one body part, because there are actually two. Both of which have a powerful carryover into everything else that we do.
The first one of these is grip strength – which I will go on to talk about in this article. The second is ‘core’ strength, but that deserves an article all of its own.
So Why the Grip?
Have you heard of the saying “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”? This was first coined by Aristotle and originally referred to Synergy. It roughly translates to – things will work better together than they will working individually. This concept holds true for the human body as well.
There is a concept in strength training called Irradiation (something the great strength coach, Pavel Tsatsauline, introduced to the masses). Irradiation is described as a ripple effect – similar to when a stone is dropped in to a pond. If you create tension in the surrounding muscles, this tension spreads (or irradiates) and amplifies the strength of the working muscle/s. The greater the tension you can create, the further it will amplify throughout the body. This is why it is so important to get tight when you are performing resistance exercises.
With this in mind, it is possible to increase strength in any exercise by creating added tension. The most effective way of achieving this tension is by tightening the grip (and bracing the core). Thus, the stronger your grip, the greater the ripple effect…
Research also supports the fact that grip strength is a key indicator in predicting quality of life. A stronger grip strength has been proven to be positively linked to fewer functional limitations later in life.
This means that grip and muscle strength in middle age may be able to slow some of the physical effects of aging. Another win for strength training!
3 Types of Grip
There are 3 different types of grip:
1) Supportive – this refers to a grip where the fingers take the brunt of the load. This is used in most weight training exercises such as the deadlift, or the majority of dumbbell and kettlebell work. Typically, this grip works isometrically with your fingers wrapped around a handle.
2) Crushing – this refers to fingers closing around a resistance. Think of this like crushing a can or squeezing a set of old school grip trainers that your dad had.
3) Pinching – this involves grabbing an object between your fingers and thumb. The most obvious example would be to grab a weights plate by placing your palm around the edge and pinching the two sides between your fingers and thumb.
These categories are important because they help identify the type of grip strength that is required for your goals. Here are a few exercises to consider adding to your training. This is not an exhaustive list but each of these can offer numerous benefits to your programme:
1) Farmers Carries – an awesome exercise in its own right. This will enhance total body strength, help correct postural imbalances and build huge supportive grip strength
2) Pull Up Bar Dead Hangs – this is a superb exercise to develop supportive grip strength. You can hang for time, add resistance or if you are advanced, consider one arm hangs. Additionally, dead hangs help to decompress the spine and teach effective shoulder packing
3) Towel Pull Ups or Towel Swings – both these exercises offer big bang for your buck regardless but add a towel and you will enhance your crush grip strength. In fact, perform both of these exercises together and you have a complete session for the back and posterior chain
4) Heavy 1 Arm Swings – a great supporting grip strength exercise. This will also improve your ability to resist rotation through the core (anti rotation), and further teach the skill of packing your shoulders in order to help bulletproof them
5) Plate Pinch Holds – these are incredibly challenging. However, if you can develop a lobster like pinch grip then you will no longer struggle with chop sticks ever again.
Other exercises to consider might include: Bottoms Up Presses, Suitcase Carries or adding Fat Grips to any exercise.
Remember to train the grip sparingly though (two to three times per week) since it will place a significant demand on the central nervous system.
I hope you’ve managed to take at least something away from this article.
Author - Craig Peterson - Personal Trainer & Mentor
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