Grip training for strength sports - Part 1

Why train your grip?

Some of what I’ve written elsewhere will influence what is written here so keep that in mind.

Every so often I am asked on a bodybuilding forum what advantage that section of the Iron Game community would gain from training grip. I answer it thus:

No more reliance on straps – it’s not to say NEVER use a wrist strap but not to have to wear them practically from the first working set. It’s not at all unusual to read of a newbie to the game finding that on some sets of pulling exercises (deadlifts, chins, rows, even curls etc) that their forearms pump up more than the muscle they were aiming to work.

This is because the support muscles are weak. They catch up real quick. But said newb nips out and before you know it he’s back with his wrist straps and is ‘good to go’. But as above if he’d have held of for a week or two the forearms would have become accommodated to the work load and the target muscles would, we hope, be feeling the full effect.

In the more experience athlete, especially the HVT (High Volume Trainers) type they can find not that the forearm pumps up just that their hands and grip tires out. So they too will go out and buy pro-level wrist straps just so that they can hang on to the handle or bar long enough to get the numbers they’ve set for themselves.

But it’s a mistake. I’ve argued this with competitive bodybuilders. Here’s why: if you squeeze harder when training you send a stronger nervous impulse back to the brain. This sends a signal to the targeted muscle and ask for a greater activation of muscle fibres. That means more of the muscle works to help you make a rep. From a pure strength perspective that can mean a 5–percent increase in the load. From a bodybuilding aspect it means greater muscle overload using less reps and sets. IF you are capable of pushing yourself to the same sets and reps that you set as a target for yourself (let’s say 4 x 8-12 reps) then by the end the muscle will, all other aspects being equal, have trained harder and so be more fatigued.

Thus, no matter if it’s a strength gain or muscle burned and pumped, you’d have done more to make that happen in the same time frame, with the same sets and reps.

Just by squeezing the grip harder.

Wrist rollers


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