Get a grip - relevancy for your sport
Danny M O'Dell gives tips on this often-neglected area of strength training.
Imagine the following scenario:
What happened? How can he be so strong yet not be able to finish the lift? Well, it may have to do with his grip strength or lack thereof. If he can pull, but not hold onto the bar, then there is an identified problem that needs correcting. Many sports require above average hand strength. How well your athlete can control the torque of the tennis racket as a ball hits the strings, throw the hammer, and handle the oars in rowing or the hold onto the shaft of the pole vault all depend on your athlete's ability to provide adequate power in maintaining their grip in a superior manner.
The following article illustrates a slick device for increasing your hand strength; a list of different grip exercises then follows it. It will be left up to you as a coach to incorporate these movements into your athlete's developmental program.
Grip strengthening exercises
The accompanying photographs (Fig 1-3) show a great device for developing your grip. Each piece of PVC tubing fits into the next larger one. The diameter of the handle can be made larger or smaller depending upon the level of difficulty desired. Naturally, the smaller the handle, the easier will be the task of holding onto the resistance. Once the handle becomes over three inches in diameter, the ability to grip and lift becomes problematic. Slowly adapt your strength with each successively larger diameter handle.
Not only are these handles useful for simple lifting exercises, but they can also be adapted to the pulley, band or elastic modes of resistance training as depicted in fig 4 and 5. Also, the larger sized handles make chin up and pull up exercises much more difficult to accomplish.
Additional ideas to develop your grip strength
Rubber ball squeezes
Exercises with a Thors Hammer
The Thors hammer is an adjustable dumbbell with plates added to one end only. Sledgehammers can be used in place of the dumbbell, but minor adjustments of weight are easier if the dumbbell is used. Begin holding the bar near the weight until you build up the strength to use the lever of the full handle.
Begin the development of your grip strength by working on your endurance first then go to a strength-based program that employs heavyweights coupled with low reps.
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About the Author
Danny O`Dell is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning coach from the USA. He is the author of several training manuals including The Ultimate Bench Press Manual, Wilderness Basics, Strength training Secrets, Composite training and Power up your Driving Muscles. Danny has published articles in national and international magazines describing the benefits of living a healthy fitness lifestyle.
The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic: