How can I improve my grip strength?

In fitness, grip strength is an overlooked yet essential component of overall strength and health. Whether you're an athlete aiming to improve your performance, a weightlifter, or someone looking to improve daily functional strength, enhancing your grip can have profound impacts. This guide delves into the science and practice of building grip strength, offering effective exercises and tips to help you develop hands of steel.

Grip strength is a testament to the power of the forearm, hand, and finger muscles. These muscles are pivotal in sports and weightlifting and everyday activities such as opening jars, carrying groceries, or even typing on a keyboard. A strong grip is also an indicator of overall health and longevity.

Let’s explore some scientifically-backed and practical methods for enhancing your grip strength.

Understanding Grip Strength

Grip strength is the force applied by the hand to pull or suspend objects. It's divided into different types of grips based on how the force is applied:

  1. Crush Grip: This is the action of closing your hand around something and squeezing it, like shaking hands or holding a barbell.
  2. Pinch Grip involves pinching objects between your fingers and thumb, like picking up a weight plate.
  3. Support Grip: This is the ability to hold onto something for a prolonged period, such as during a dead hang from a pull-up bar.

Each type of grip works different muscles and is used in various exercises to enhance overall hand strength.

Effective Exercises to Enhance Grip Strength

Engaging in specific exercises can significantly improve your grip strength. Here are some powerful exercises that target different aspects of grip strength.

Bodyweight Hang

A bodyweight hang, also known as a dead hang, is one of the simplest and most effective exercises for building support grip strength. To perform this exercise:

  1. Find a pull-up bar or any sturdy horizontal bar.
  2. Grab the bar with your palms facing forward; hands shoulder-width apart.
  3. Lift your feet off the ground, allowing your body to hang freely.
  4. Start with 10-second hangs if you’re a beginner, and gradually increase to one minute as you get stronger.

This exercise strengthens your grip and benefits your shoulders, upper back, and core. Pete McCall, the education director for EOS Fitness gyms, suggests starting with 10-second hangs and building up to one-minute holds.

Farmer’s Carry

The farmer's carry is a versatile exercise that works on your support grip and improves overall strength and endurance. Here’s how to perform it:

  1. Grab a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand.
  2. Stand tall with your shoulders back and core engaged.
  3. Walk forward in a straight line, maintaining your posture.
  4. Walk for a set distance or time, typically 50-100 feet, then turn around and walk back.

This exercise mimics the action of carrying heavy grocery bags and is extremely beneficial in building functional strength. For more tips and variations, visit Healthline.

Fingertip Push-ups

Fingertip push-ups are a challenging yet effective way to strengthen your hands and forearm muscles. To perform these:

  1. Get into a push-up position with your fingertips supporting your weight instead of your palms.
  2. Lower your body towards the ground while keeping your body straight.
  3. Push yourself back up to the starting position.

If this is too difficult, start doing them on your knees, or try lowering yourself with your fingertips and pushing back up with your palms.

Grip Squeezing

Squeezing exercises are excellent for improving crush grip strength. While specialized tools exist, you can use common gym equipment like spiral metal clips. Here’s how:

  1. Hold the grip tool or clip firmly in one hand.
  2. Squeeze it as hard as you can and hold for a few seconds.
  3. Release and repeat for several repetitions.

This exercise can be done anywhere and effectively builds forearm muscles. Andy from Peloton recommends keeping the wrist neutral to avoid strain.

Towel or Rope Pulls

Using a towel or rope instead of regular handles on gym equipment can significantly increase the effort required by your grip. For instance, substitute the handle with a towel when using a rowing machine. Here's how:

  1. Wrap a towel or rope securely around the handle of a rowing machine.
  2. Grab the ends of the towel and perform your rowing exercise as usual.

This modification makes your hands work harder to maintain grip, boosting grip strength over time. Rachel Lovitt, a personal trainer, also recommends using water jugs with handles for a similar effect.

Advanced Techniques for Building Grip Strength

Incorporating advanced techniques can yield substantial results for those looking to improve their grip strength.

Gorilla Rows

Gorilla rows are a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the grip. Here’s how to do gorilla rows:

  1. Position two kettlebells in front of you, feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend at the hips, keeping your back straight, and grab the kettlebells.
  3. Perform a row with one kettlebell while keeping the other on the ground.
  4. Alternate between the kettlebells for several repetitions.

This exercise challenges the grip as you lift, hold, and alternate the heavyweights.

Deadlift Holds

Deadlift holds are another excellent exercise that focuses on grip strength. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grab a barbell with a shoulder-width grip.
  2. Bend your knees and lift the bar off the ground, straightening your legs and keeping your back flat.
  3. Hold the bar at hip level for 5-10 seconds.
  4. Lower the bar back down and repeat for 3-5 reps.

Deadlift holds force your grip to support your body’s weight, enhancing both the support and crush grips.

Finger Extensions

To balance out the strength in your hands, it’s essential to perform finger extensions along with grip exercises. Here’s how to do them:

  1. Wrap a resistance band around your fingers.
  2. Extend your fingers outwards as far as possible.
  3. Perform 10 repetitions, adding more resistance bands as you get stronger.

Finger extensions help prevent muscle imbalances and injuries, ensuring your grip muscles develop evenly.

The Importance of Consistency and Progression

Like any other fitness goal, building grip strength requires consistency and gradual progression. It’s important to include grip exercises in your regular fitness routine and gradually increase the difficulty as your strength improves. Aim for two to three grip-specific workouts per week, and always pay attention to proper form to avoid injuries.

Practical Tips for Enhancing Grip Strength

  1. Switch Up Your Routine: Incorporate different grip exercises to ensure all muscles are worked evenly.
  2. Avoid Gloves: Training without gloves can make your grip work harder. Pete McCall suggests ditching weightlifting gloves for exercises like lat pulldowns to improve grip strength directly.
  3. Use Chalk: If your hands slip due to sweat, use gym chalk to maintain a better grip.
  4. Stay Patient: Progress in grip strength can be slow, but you will see improvement over time with consistent effort.
  5. Use Grippers: Hand grippers are portable, easy-to-use tools specifically designed for building grip strength. Incorporating them into your daily routine can yield significant benefits.

Measuring Grip Strength

Knowing how strong your grip is and tracking your progress can be motivating. There are a couple of ways to measure grip strength accurately:

  1. Handgrip Dynamometer: This device measures the force of your grip. Hold the dynamometer with your arm at a 90-degree angle and squeeze as hard as possible to use it.
  2. Weight Scale: Push down on a scale with the heel of your hand and fingers wrapped around the base. This method gives a good approximation of grip strength.

Regularly measuring your grip strength can help you set goals and monitor your progress.


Improving grip strength is crucial for overall fitness, athletic performance, and everyday functionality. By incorporating a variety of grip exercises, such as bodyweight hangs, farmer’s carries, fingertip push-ups, and advanced techniques like gorilla rows and deadlift holds, you can significantly enhance the strength of your hands, wrists, and forearms.

Remember to stay consistent, progressively increase the intensity of your workouts, and measure your progress to stay motivated. A strong grip is invaluable whether you’re opening a stubborn jar, dominating the pull-up bar, or simply carrying your groceries with ease. Embrace these exercises, and watch your grip strength soar. You can check resources like Healthline and Peloton for more detailed instructions and tips.

By following this comprehensive guide, you're well on your way to mastering grip strength and achieving a new fitness level.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.