Here are 6 of my go-to exercises and techniques for improving your grip strength. All of these can be modified to meet your current fitness level and ability.
There are many different loaded carry variations you can perform. Loaded carries are fantastic for developing grip strength, lumbo-pelvic stability, shoulder and scapular stability, and full body strength (or strength endurance), and can be performed by people of all fitness levels. You can perform bilateral loaded carries, or single sided loaded carries.
Some of my favourite loaded carry variations include:
1) Trap bar loaded carries (you can likely go the heaviest with these)
2) Dumbbell loaded carries (by sides)
3) Overhead dumbbell loaded carries
4) Bottoms-up kettlebell loaded carries
5) Overhead barbell loaded carries
6) Overhead barbell with hanging kettlebell loaded carries
Here are several loaded carry variations you can perform. The last video is extremely advanced but the first two are more basic.
Prescription: Do 3-5 sets of a 25-50 m carry.
This basic exercise really hones in on grip strength and is pretty straightforward. Grab onto 1-2 weight plates. You can either stand in a fixed position, or you can also walk. Stu McGill gives some fantastic advice in his new book The Gift Of Injury, and it is something that many people completely disregard. Even when you are performing a pretty grip-specific exercise, your entire body must be working as a synchronized unit. So focus on screwing your feet into the floor and establishing a tripod foot, keeping your core braced, and generating and then maintaining tension throughout your entire body.
Prescription: Do 3-5 sets of a 10-30 second hold.
Bottoms-up kettlebell presses or holds are fantastic for developing upper body strength, shoulder and scapular controlled mobility, lumbo-pelvic stability, and grip strength. These are definitely tougher than they look, so start light and work your way up in weight.
Prescription: Do 3 sets of 8-12 presses. If you are performing holds, do 3-5 sets of 10-30 second holds.
Fat Gripz are a very easy and effective tool for improving grip strength. You can attach the Fat Gripz on a pull-up bar as I am doing in this video and you can perform pull-ups, and different pull-up regressions. You can also put the Fat Gripz on dumbbells or barbells and can perform most regular exercises. For instance, performing biceps curls using the Fat Gripz will help you build your biceps, while also strengthening your grip. And while this exercise is very advanced, you can also put the Fat Gripz on a kettlebell and can perform bottoms-up presses or holds.
Prescription: Do 3 sets of 8-12 reps. If you are performing holds, do 3-5 sets of 10-30 second holds.
Towel hangs are yet another basic but very effective grip-building tool to have in your arsenal. You can perform pull-ups, and many different pull-up regressions. The thicker the towels, the more challenging the exercise will be.
Prescription: Do 3-5 sets of a 10-30 second hold. Or if you are performing pull-up regressions, follow the same set and rep scheme as you typically would without the towels.
Rope climbs are a great way to enhance your grip strength. Here are a few of my favourite variations.
Prescription: If you are performing modified climbs, do 3 sets of 3-5 reps. If you are performing legless climbs, do 3-5 sets of 1 rep.