Grip strength isn't just helpful for a handshake

FIT Staff
Mar 6, 2014

A simple handshake can convey many things about people.

It may display if they are nervous, shy or aggressive.

It can also tell you something about their overall fitness.

Grip strength is a biomarker for upper body strength and it is used in assessments of physical ability.

You may have noticed this without putting much thought into it, such as when you have met a person with a physical job who has a firm handshake.

Grip strength also allows you to express more strength; this is why many power lifters train grip strength.

This reason is also why you may see people in the gym wearing wrist straps to hold heavy weight. Their other muscles are strong, while their grip is their limiting factor.

This is fine for the gym, but having a strong grip will allow you to express more strength in activities of daily living.

The body has many feedback loops and through these loops the body regulates actions.

The body interprets a failing grip as signal to put the brakes on to prevent damage to muscles and joints.

When the grip is assisted, the body allows a greater expression of strength. 

This action is seen most in the connection of grip to shoulder strength.

A stronger crush grip allows for greater pressing strength with kettlebells. This is why they tend to have thick handles.

Thick handles on implements allow for a better grip while also training the grip.

This can be combined with carrying exercises like the farmer’s carry and suitcase carry to improve grip while working the lower extremities.

Many companies sell various implements to improve strength. 

Another simple exercise is hanging from a chin-up bar, but make sure you keep your shoulder sucked into the joint rather than hanging on the ligaments.

A static exercise to be avoided is holding a heavy barbell while standing; this puts unnecessary strain on the low back.

Supplemental grip training will help you express more real world strength and help you overcome plateaus.