Typical training programs divide your body into muscle groups. This way, each training day targets a different muscle group. The focus is put on training the chest, the back and the legs, while the secondary muscle groups, like biceps or shoulders, are given a lower priority. However, one of the common mistakes that you can make as a bodybuilder is to overlook grip training.
In terms of body building, a strong grip translates into two things – better training performance, and better posing. Underdeveloped forearms are the worst enemy to any bodybuilding pose.
Why do you need a strong grip ?
By developing a strong grip, the forearm muscles will look impressive. Well developed forearms are also beneficial to the training process. A strong grip helps you in increasing the weight on many lifts that require grip strength, such as pull ups, deadlifts, barbell rows, etc.
If your forearms are weak, you may want to give up during a set, before the targeted muscles have reached failure, thus missing the whole point of taxing the the muscle and working on strength. Take for example your back. Even when your back muscles are able to endure a few more repetitions, you’ll have to prematurely end your set, if the grip strength fails you.
By improving your grip strength, you will also improve the general quality of your exercises in terms of lifting heavier weights and using better form.
If your forearms are not up to the desired level, you may want to turn to specialized grip training. Although direct forearm work does a fairly good job, and should not be abandoned, grip work will stimulate the whole musculature in the forearm, providing additional growth.
Adding grip exercises to your training routine, will help you in achieving maximum results in the gym and on the stage. Before starting, you should be aware that there are four types of grips. Each has its own function, and each involves different development techniques. They are the wrist strength, pinch grip, crushing grip, supportive grip.
Obviously, strong wrists are crucial in many of the exercises. Week wrists can cause injury. Because of this you want to build up your wrist strength, which you can do by using level bar lifts, and wrist curls. These exercises also help the development of many visually useful forearm muscles.
The pinch grip develops strength in your thumb and fingers. This can be a very hard exercise, having in mind the uncomfortable position your hands will be in. One of the exercises is to hold one or two weight plates between the thumb and fingers, leaving them to hang at your side. You can start with lighter weights, and gradually increasing them.
As opposed to the pinching grip where the thumb has the main role, the crush grip involves the use of your palm and fingers. The thumb is here only for support. This grip can be seen in motions such as crushing a can, shaking hands etc. It can be improved by using hand gripper, and the exercises mainly improve the forearm flexors. The crush grip also contributes to better performance when training your back and biceps.
The supportive grip is the one which is used the most in real life situations. In term of bodybuilding exercises this grip will help you in shrugs, rows and a handful of other upper body exercises.
The execution of the supportive grip lies somewhere between the pinching and the crushing grip, involving all three hand elements – palm, fingers and thumb. The best way for enhancing this type of grip is the farmer’s walk – where you hold heavy objects (heavy dumbbells for example) in each hand and walk around with it.