Why Your Grip Matters

I was suspended 7 stories in the air, held there only by a half-inch rope. My forearms were beginning to burn, knowing that there was still a long way to the ground. It was a training exercise in rappelling and I was of course connected to a belay line, but it stresses the importance of having grip strength and endurance.

 

Our hands serve more purposes than we give them credit for. Don’t believe me? Ask someone how difficult life becomes after you break your hand and have to have it in a cast for weeks on end. The ability to grip objects makes us unique as humans, and it’s important that you include grip training in your routine.

 

Whenever you hold a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell in your hand, you are utilizing your grip to keep it there. That means that many exercises indirectly target your grip strength and endurance. But this is often not enough to develop the full strength needed for performance and life. Neglecting this can mean that your grip is the limiting factor holding you back from personal best lifts, and at worst, can become a liability in life-or-death situations.

 

Take for example firefighters. During auto extrication you have to grip hydraulic tools, some of which weigh upwards of 60 pounds, for extended periods. Are you going to compromise your ability to save someone’s life in an auto accident because you have weak forearms?

 

Police officers provide another example. I’m sure they’re not willing to let a perp slip away from their grip because they’re too busy to work out their forearms on a regular basis. There are plenty of other real-world examples but the fact remains, your grip is important.

 

One of the best movements out there to train your grip is farmer walks. You simply pick up a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand and walk with it for a determined distance or length of time. Start with 100 meters of farmer walks and gradually increase it to multiple sets, adding weight as your grip strength improves.


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Jon Griffith specializes in optimizing performance for firefighters & police. Jon is a personal trainer, firefighter, and former U.S. Army infantryman. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and 3 cats.

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