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The 5 Best Drills for Training Grip Strength: for Beginners - Awake & Alive
Awake & Alive
Jedd Johnson - Grip Strength

The 5 Best Drills for Training Grip Strength: for Beginners

Grip strength is a lost art that most people ignore. Here are 5 drills to help you start building crushing hands and forearms,

I’m Jedd Johnson. They call me Napalm, and I am a Gripaholic.

I love training for all forms of Grip Strength and enjoy performing feats of hand strength.



I first learned about training the hands for exceptional strength in 2002, and these days it is the primary driver behind all my training.

In fact, there’s actually an underground subculture of grip strength enthusiasts that meet throughout the year and hold grip contests to see who has the most impressive grip.

There are online certifications and stat lists for those who have successfully executed various feats of grip strength. And there are people all over the world who work their hands to the bone in order to bend steel bars, nails and bolts, and to be able to literally rip, tear and shred decks of cards, phone books, and catalogs into smithereens.

All of this is awesome, and it is super fun. You get a humongous rush every time you pull off a new personal record (PR) or finally successfully perform a feat you’ve been working on.

But, you’ve got to start somewhere, so today, I’m going to show you the 5 best drills for training grip strength to get on the path to building better hand strength.

5 Drills for Building Grip Strength

#1: Gripper Training

Grippers are like the gateway drug of grip, meaning that once you start training grippers, you can’t get enough and before you know it, you’re doing all kinds of other grip training drills.

Many companies put out heavy-duty hand grippers with knurled aluminum handles and thick springs, which are a serious challenge for the hands. The objective is to set the gripper into the power position and then smash it shut until the handles close. There are many styles of gripper closes, depending how exactly you want to challenge yourself, and what specific technique you are training.

But no matter what set you use or the style you employ, you’re left wanting to do more until finally you feel the handles on these bad-boys touch together under your might!

#2. Plate Pinching

Any gym you go to will have plates of some sort. If they have the kind that are iron, with no rubber coating a smooth side, then you’re in business for big pinchin’.

Pinching is when you lift something with the thumb on one side and the fingers on the other. So line up a pair of 10-lb plates with the smooth sides facing out, and pick them up to lockout If this is easy for you, try three 10-lb plates.

As you progress and get stronger and more confident, you can try combinations of more 10-lb plates, and if you get 5 of them, you can rest assured that you have some seriously strong hands.

Once you get going, also try 2×25’s, 2×35’s and finally 2x45s. For the ladies, if you’re able to pinch 2×25’s with the smooth sides of the plates facing out, you’ve got some pretty darn good hand strength.

Guys, if you can manhandle 2×35’s, then you should consider going to a grip contest. And if you can pinch-grip a pair of 45-lb plates, well that’s pretty much world class performance, right there.

#3. Sledge Hammer Levering

This one is all about shock and awe. Everybody knows what a sledge hammer is, and they know how tough it can be to swing one, when doing work, even if it’s only for 30 seconds.

Many grip enthusiasts like to stand up and hold a sledge hammer by the very end of the handle, and then lower the head of the hammer down to their forehead under control, and then raise it back up to the vertical position, in order to demonstrate their wrist strength.

When you try this, don’t be afraid to use a nice light hammer (you can actually find sledges with 3-lb heads on them) and go ahead and choke up on the handle a bit to get a feel for it. Gradually work your grip away from the head of the hammer, with the goal to be gripping it at the far end and being able to do multiple repetitions.

Show your mom – she’ll probably shriek when you do it, but that’s OK.

#4. Thick Bar Lifts

This is probably one of the most beneficial types of grip training there is. It’s great for athletes and helps to increase not only hand and finger strength, but also can build up your wrists and forearms. It involves doing exercises with dumbbells, bars, and handles that are much thicker than normal, in order to make the hands and forearms work harder.

Fat Gripz produces a rubber handle that will snap onto just about any dumbbell, barbell or handle in the gym, and instantly makes the exercise harder by increasing the size of the handle. You can use thick bar training to change up many types of Rows, Cleans, Presses, and Curls to start building better grip strength.

The video below also shows you a drill you can do using equipment you already have in your gym…

#5. Grip-Modified Pull-ups

If you really want to get some weird looks at the gym, then try out some Pull-up variations that make your hands work harder. There are all kinds of cool implements out there that you can use for Grip-Modified Pull-ups, but one of the simplest to try out is in your bathroom right now – the towel.

Take a nice thick towel and drape it over the Pull-up bar. Clinch onto the towel hard with both hands, and perform Pull-ups. You’ll instantly feel the increased challenge levels, due to gripping the malleable material of the towel.

It’ll probably be pretty hard to get a bunch of reps on the Pull-ups, so once you burn out on the towel, just grip onto the bar to finish out your rep goal. If you can’t do Pull-ups, just loop the towel over the Pull-down bar, instead.

Warning: You’re probably gonna get some looks from other people at the gym when you do these drills, but don’t let it bother you. When they see all your lifts going up because of your improved hand strength, they’ll understand why.

You see, when your grip gets stronger, it will help you to lift more weight and hold on for longer times and, getting more reps per set. Bigger weights done for more reps – that’s a perfect formula for more strength and muscle gains, so start working on your grip today.

For more information on Grip Training, check out my website, www.DieselCrew.com, and feel free to send me questions through the contact form.

Also, my YouTube Channel and Instagram are packed with Grip Training Delicacies, so stop by and be sure to subscribe and follow.

Jedd Johnson on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/jeddjohnson)

Jedd Johnson on Instagram (http://www.instagram.com/jedd.diesel)

All the best in your training.


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Mark Smith

Mark Smith

Mark Smith is the owner of Asylum Fitness in beautiful Wilmington, North Carolina. He is a Movement and Strength Coach that uses unconventional tools and methods to make his students a little better with each practice. His main focus is movement, he believes, “We were born to move. Reclaim your birthright.” He encourages his students and all those he meets to just play, similarly to when you were a kid, believing that play is the foundation of movement and movement is life. “By learning to move better and improving our mobility, everything falls into place.” he says. Mark is an Outdoor Fitness Enthusiast, is well versed in corrective exercises, and currently holds a level 1 FMS (Functional Movement Screen), and is a MovNat level 2 certified trainer and is always seeking to learn from the best. He also has a background in track and field, martial arts, ballroom dance, and currently is practicing parkour.

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