Having a good strong grip is essential for strongman and strongwoman and in my opinion is as crucial to your success in the sport as strong shoulders, a strong back, or even good conditioning. If a strong(wo)man is well rounded in every other aspect but lacks grip strength, their overall performance with always suffer. Anyone around the strongman world has seen this at shows time and time again. An athlete seems to be kicking ass all day and then blamo! Last place or close to it due to weak grip on farmers walk, frame or wheel barrow and instead of being a top runner they drop back in placings. For the athlete this feeling is soul crushing!
Should you suffer with this, there is a very simple solution: focused and consistent (hard) grip training. Training for grip and hand strength can feel like an unrewarding endeavor because gains come slow but should you be patient and consistent you will reap the rewards of a vice like grip. From the moment you decide it’s time to fix this problem until the day your grip is too good (this will never happen) you will be stuck doing grip work 3-4 days a week.
When we talk about grip strength we have to touch on the fact that there are a few different types of “grip strength” needed in strongman. First is the classic crushing strength you can easily test using the IronMind Captain of Crush Grippers or other similar products which is more of a training tool than an actual event. There is the strength required to hold something for an extending period of time usually while moving like in a farmers walk (grip endurance comes into play). There is the grip strength required to grip and pull on a thick rope like in vehicle pulling events. Lastly there is the grip strength required to grip a fat bar (axle bar) in cleaning and pressing events. Master all of these and your overall game will improve drastically.
Grip is one of those things that can come very easy to some (assholes…) and then the rest of us who will work tooth and nail for years to never be great at grip events. The one thing that stands universal is that no matter how good your grip is initially someone out there is working hard with the same size of hands and they are going to beat you. EVERYONE should train grip!
Below is a one week sample program for improving grip for strongman and strongwoman and will cover all of training needed to develop the skills we talked about above. Do this grip training workout after your other training and where applicable, substitute modified pulling exercises into your upper back program (ie fat grip pulldowns if you can’t do pull-ups etc). Training grip events does not count as grip training so that will not be included in this program although you should be doing those as well.
Axle Shrugs 3 x 8-12 (sets done at a working weight that has the grip starting to slip on the last reps)
Standing Forearm Curls 3 x 10-12 (let in drop into your fingers on each rep)
Rope Inverted Rows 4 x 10
Captain of Crush Grippers 2 x Max reps (Heavy enough to complete only 6-10 reps)
Plate Pinches 2 x 20-30 sec
Finger Tip BB Shrugs 3 x 10-15 (hold barbell in finger tips with thumb-less grip)
Pullups using Fat Gripz on bar 3 x 6-10
Captain of Crush Grippers 2 x Max Hold Time (30-45 sec)
Rev Wrist Curls 2 x15
Rest 3-5 min between sets. Good luck and you should demand and look forward to a stronger grip in no time!!!