Let’s be honest, forearms are one of the sexiest muscle groups to develop. I think it’s a muscle group that is neglected compared to things like biceps or triceps, but one of the biggest indicators of strength I often see is good forearm development, and consequently, grip strength. Do you think a guy who looks like this is weak?
I sincerely doubt it. Not only are you going to make the ladies swoon (oh god that word is so dorky but I love it), developing your forearms and grip strength is going to translate to better performance across pretty much all of your lifts. Here’s why:
A strong grip translates to better muscle activation for most of your upper body muscles—especially your triceps, shoulders, and chest. The harder you can contract these muscles, the more force you can produce. The more force you can produce, the more weight you can move!
This is why your high school strength training coach always told you to imagine bending the bar on your bench press. Squeezing the bar as hard as you can is going to help you fully recruit your triceps and chest on the movement. Give it a try yourself: load up your barbell and perform a set with a relatively “loose” grip and then a set where you really focus on squeezing the bar. Which is easier? The latter, almost assuredly.
It isn’t just the bench press where this is useful, either. Most of your compound exercises, including but not limited to:
will benefit hugely by having a well trained grip. How are you going to deadlift 400lbs if you aren’t strong enough to hold the bar? Answer: you aren’t. Unless you use straps, which is cool, I guess. A matched grip 495lb pull is a hell of a lot more impressive in my mind than a strapped up one. Maybe one day i’ll deadlift that much :(.
Here’s another great article on why grip strength training is so important. According to the author, a lot of upper arm ailments are caused by a lack of forearm development and grip strength. Correcting this is often a matter of getting a stronger grasp on things (heheh, no pun intended).
“So how should I be strengthening my grip?”
While most of the aforementioned exercises will help strengthen your grip, I think more direct grip work is definitely worth your time. Enter: The Farmers Walk.
ever wonder why your grandpa is so friggin’ strong? Well, aside from the obvious old-man-strength, probably because he worked on a farm and did a shitload of these. Here’s why the farmer’s walk is an absolutely awesome exercise:
- It trains your grip strength, duh!
- It’s an awesome conditioning exercise. Walking back and forth while carrying heavy stuff will definitely test your endurance
- It’s ridiculously easy. Anyone can do it with minimal technique. Push your chest out, shoulders back, grab some dumbbells or kettlebells and walk around
I like to perform the exercise as 3 sets of max time. That is, do 3 sets of walking around with dumbbells for as long as you can hold on to them. Try and beat your time every time you do it. I generally throw this exercise in at the end of a session, because it’s a great finisher and you’ll be gassed after a few sets.
To recap, here’s why you want to train grip strength:
- You develop your forearms and reap dem aesthetic gains
- You get stronger at exercises that require you to hold something…..so, most exercises.
- You’re more stable throughout exercises that require you to hold something, reducing your risk of injury
- You can deadlift with a matched grip. CHA-CHING
- You become a badass
Short article, but I just wanted to highlight why you should be focusing on training your grip and forearms. Try incorporating it into your next training cycle and see what you think! Let me know how effective it has been for you.