Grip strength is a sign of masculinity. What’s the first thing you notice about someone when you shake hands with them? The firmness of their handshake.
If we’re talking in terms of overall performance, grip strength is often the biggest limiting factor. During pulling exercises, the first thing to tire is your grip/forearms. Deadlifts, just how heavy can you go without straps/using a mixed grip?
If that hasn’t got you sold yet, many women like a man to have strong looking hands and forearms.
(suzycohen.com) – who’s the man and who’s the woman here?!
My favourite way of building iron-like grip strength –
The classic death hang! All you need is a pull-up bar, your hands and maybe some external resistance in the form of a dumbbell or weight belt (depending on your current strength).
Since the forearms, like the abdominals and calves, are primarily slow twitch in nature, thus they’re an endurance muscle group. Endurance muscle groups like those above respond very well to isometric induced tension. Hence, why the dead hang pull-up is a perfect candidate.
Do I need extra resistance and how long do I need to hang for?
If you can’t last at the very least, 60 seconds with your bodyweight, then don’t even contemplate adding weight via a weight belt/dumbbell. Ideally, I’d have you being capable of at least 90 seconds – sometimes even 2 minutes – before you add weight. Once you can comfortably surpass 90 seconds with regularity, add 5 kg and repeat the cycle.
Bodyweight for 2 minutes becomes easy > add 5 kg and build back up to 2 minutes. Rinse and repeat with 10 kg next time.
Which grip style to use?
These are best done with a pronated (overhand) grip. You can use a neutral grip (palms facing/hammer curl style) too, but pronated with the thumbs around the bar (not thumbless) will provide the greatest stress to your grip.
Having said that, I’ve done these thumbless before and still got amazing pumps in my forearms and DOMS the next day. But for absolute, most optimal carry-over to other exercises and day to day life, the thumbs around the bar is the way to go.
Note: When hanging, make a conscious effort to keep your scapula slightly depressed. Don’t let your shoulders come anywhere close to your ears. You want some slight tension in your lats.
(leehayward.com) – an comparison of the ‘thumb-less’ and ‘thumbs around’ grip styles
Endurance takes mental toughness, when dead hanging, you’re not only building grip, but also grit. This is very much a mental endeavour as it is physical. How much fatigue can you withstand?
One final fun game for you……………
If you have a training partner, why not propose some friendly competition? How about you do these at the end of each workout and the loser buys dinner or gives you some cash? That’s plenty of winning incentive.
Interestingly enough, the gym I work at has monthly challenges that range from max push-up tests, all out wall squat holds, max clean and press weight for one rep and more. We all get to ‘design’ a challenge for each month. Needless to say, recently this was my nomination. Wouldn’t you know………….it was the MOST POPULAR challenge we’ve ever had!
The hang of death; a classic test of grip and mental toughness that builds mighty grip strength in the process.
Come on guys, let me know your times down below!