To my mind, the hands and forearms are among the muscles to which not enough attention is paid. While forearm, grip strength training, and hand strengthening exercises won’t necessarily add mass or build impressive looking muscles, these types of workouts can help develop functional strength. Some of the lifts that you will do for other types of muscle building will benefit from increasing your forearm strength. Anyone with weak forearms may be limited in their ability to perform lifts. Additionally, once you start doing forearm exercises, you might be surprised to find that your other lifts actually improve. Possessing enhanced grip and hand strength can be helpful for things such as hauling luggage and playing all sorts of sports.
You really will add strength to your other lifts if you build up your forearms. For example, it’s very tough to do pull ups or deadlifts if you can’t hang onto the bar. In order to strengthen your forearms you will need to add in some exercises to your routine that emphasize a pulling motion. It really will boost the rest of your training if you can add forearm exercises to your regular workout.
When performing forearm movements, I typically like groups of ten repetitions. It is important to focus on purposeful strength training and be careful not to over-do it when you work these muscles. Forearm training is a good starting point for anyone hoping to gain functional strength and improve their ability to perform lifts, but those hoping to go even further should concentrate on hand and grip training.
In my estimation, it is possible to have great forearm strength without hand strength, but impossible to have good hand strength without substantial forearm strength. Both forearm and hand strength is likely to be enhanced by engaging in grip strength training.
To properly train your hands, you should try to include training for each specific grip type. In order to build pinch grip strength, consider grabbing something heavy like a weight plate (or two) between the finger and thumb. Supporting grip strength is attained by holding really heavy objects, such as dumbbells, in your hands or alternatively hanging from a pull up bar. It is possible to work the extensor muslces (the ones which facilitate the opening of the hand) by placing rubber bands around the fingers and opening and closing your hands against the resistance.
For crushing grip strength, you’ll need hand grippers. Unfortunately, the ones sold in most stores are really cheap and built for very high reps. In truth, squeezing a tennis ball would get you the same type of workout as these cheap grips. To get a really good strength training workout, I’d recommend getting Heavy Grips or Captains of Crush. These grippers can be extremely challenging and are built for serious strengthening training, giving up to 350+ pounds of torque resistance every time you close the grippers. You don’t need me to show you a full routine, just be sure to include a combination of standard squeezes with inverted squeezes and add in negative training exercises that require you to squeeze onto the heavy duty gripper for as long as you are able. The hands heal very quickly so you can perform a routine upwards of 4-5 times per week if you’d like. However, I will usually only do this 3 days each week in order to maintain a full day of rest from training.
Anyone who has yet to try grip strength training, hand strength, and forearm exercises should really make an effort to incorporate such movements into their regimen. Stronger hands will help you with pulling exercises and help you gain functional strength. If you train effectively, you might even be able to do some of the amazing things that Bruce Lee was able to accomplish. For starters, just focus on getting strong enough to carry a 60lb suitcase through the airport without wheeling it along.
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