If you’ve been reading my stuff for a while, whether it’s here or anywhere else, you know that I am a big fan of having a strong grip. There are a few reasons for this, including:
- Never needing assistance in opening jars
- Having healthy hands as a result of training your entire body, and not just the obvious stuff
- Submission grappling
- Helping my deadlift
Since I’ve spoken about the joys and benefits of training the grip/hands before, there’s no need to rehash all of it. You can go back and read in detail how the hands work and some exercises that facilitate that.
Today, we’re going to take two common back exercises and modify them so you can get the added bonus of training your grip and/or hands.
Hand Grenade Rows
As you can see in the video, there isn’t much in the way of novelty here. It’s a standard seated horizontal row with one hand. The main difference is in the attachment I use. In the video, I am using a modified softball. It has an attachment screwed in with a carabiner, which you can attach to any cable machine at any gym. If you don’t want to make it yourself, you can also buy spherical attachments from Sorinex or Rogue Fitness.
Making the exercise progressively more difficult (or easy) will depend on your hand placement. If you’re just starting it, cover the attachment with the surface of your palm and grab it. After that, perform a row like you normally would.
As you progress, use less surface area of the hand. Do this by using the fingers, progressively working your way to using only the fingertips to perform the row.
I like this one a lot because it is quite literally is all of your body weight working against gravity in a disadvantageous position. You don’t have a lot of surface area to grab on to which makes it exceedingly difficult.
The best part is that all you need are two hand towels. And if you aren’t quite ready to tackle two towels, scale it down by using one towel for one hand, and using the bar in the other hand, as you would for a standard pull-up.
Once you graduate to the version shown in the video (or if you can already perform it), you can make it tougher by widening the distance between towels.
Kettlebell Crush Pull-ups
This is an advanced exercise, and if you have shoulder or elbow problems, use caution in doing this. It not only works out your hands to a degree (placement of your hands and the size of your hands will impact this), but the isometric adduction component works out the pecs, and the pulling motion works out the lats.
And it’s hard. Also, use chalk liberally.
One of the ways you can scale this down in difficulty is to practice hanging from the suspended kettlebell. From there, perform knee and leg raises. Then, perhaps, negative reps. The main point, however, is that you shouldn’t even think about these until you are good at doing pull-ups.
There you have it. Three different variations of some basic exercises to get your hands stronger. Throw them in if you get bored, or if you have a dedicated grip day.