Improve Grip Strength (4-Step Method For Max Strength)

February 06, 2022

If you’re like me, you do a lot of bodyweight exercises that demand strong grip strength.

Handgrip strength is critical to pushing yourself to your limits during your workout.

I was doing some hanging leg lifts recently and began to struggle about midway through my routine.

(a hanging leg lift is when you hang from a chin-up bar with your arms straight and lift your legs up until your toes touch the ceiling.)

My abs hadn’t reached full fatigue but I had to stop because I was losing my grip on the pull-up bar.

I thought to myself, “Dang! I never realized before how important good grip strength is.”

Why Is My Grip So Weak?

In order to perform hanging leg lifts or any calisthenic exercise from a chin-up or pull-up bar, you have to have a strong grip.

The muscles in your hand, fingers, wrist, and forearm work in tandem to keep your body suspended in the air.

Just working out your main muscle groups consistently isn’t enough.

It is these smaller muscles in your hands and forearms that will make or break your long-term results from bodyweight workouts.

If you lose your grip faster than your other muscles fatigue (like I did) you destroy your chances of using the bar as a strength tool.

That’s why I created an easy 4 Step Method you can do to add grip exercises to your routine.

What Muscles Make Up the Grip?

wrist muscle and tendon diagram improve grip strength

What Grip Exercises Improve Hand Grip?

The types of grip exercises that improve handgrip can range from finger pinching to wrist curls and squeezing a tennis ball.

No matter the routine, you will want to focus on 4 key muscle groups:

  1. Fingers
  2. Hands
  3. Wrists
  4. Forearms

Using isolation exercises in your grip training workout routines will allow you to increase grip strength to super-natural levels!

How To Improve Grip Strength (4-Step Method)

This 4-Step Method can be done in 10 minutes or less 3 to 4 times a week.

I prefer to do this grip training circuit after my regular workout.

Let’s get started!
fingertip squeezes - improve grip strength

Step 1: Fingertip Squeezes (10 reps)

It’s true, there aren’t any muscles in your fingers however, as Motion Orthodontics points out, each finger has 6 muscles controlling its movement.

(the index and little finger each have an extra muscle, by the way.)

Many times, your fingers will be your weakest link when it comes to having a solid grip.

A great way to work these muscles is through finger exercises like fingertip squeezes.

The fingertip squeeze strengthens all the muscles on the inner part of the hand.

This can be a benefit for those with weak hands or those with a weak overhand grip.

You also end up with a killer pinch grip after a few weeks of doing these!

You can’t see it in the picture but our starting position is a plank position.

You will want to place your hands about shoulder-width.

Keep your weight suspended on your feet and your fingertips.

Once you have that position, squeeze your fingertips together against the floor.

These will be very small movements and maintain proper form.

Do 10 reps. 
hand squeezes improve grip strength

Step 2: Hand Squeezes (10 sec. each hand)

The next exercise is a yielding isometric called the hand squeeze.

That just means we will be using our own force on our hands by squeezing.

It is similar to resistance training.

Yielding isometrics can have amazing effects on muscle performance and require very minimal movement.

When trying to overcome weak grip strength, there is no better grip work than tightly gripping an object.

For this exercise, you’ll be griping your hands together and squeezing as tightly as you can for 10 full seconds.

After you have finished one side, flip the hands over as shown in the video below and do another set.

Doing these exercises consistently will also contribute to forearm strength in the long run.

Step 3: Wrist Lifts (10 reps)

wrist lifts improve grip strength
The third step in the routine is called Wrist Lifts.

We do wrist exercises because not only does it improve our grip but it also has a positive correlation with preventing carpal tunnel syndrome and other wrist pain.

You’ll be in a doggy starting position.

Lift your wrists up as high as you can with the weight of your upper body directly over them.

Slowly lower your wrists back down to complete a full rep.

The more weight you put over your wrists the harder the exercise.

Do 10 full reps.

Step 4: 2 Handed Hangs (60 sec.)

The last step is called 2 Handed Hangs.

Essentially, this is just hanging from a bar.

I use this as my “finisher” move because it’s fun and it’s a great move to try to max out.

If you can do 60 seconds of these then you’ll want to move on to the alternate variation below.
one handed hang improve grip strength

Step 4 (Alternate): 1 Handed Hangs (60 sec.)

The 1 Handed Hang is the alternate variation to the 1 Handed Hang.

It’s much more difficult and requires you to grip the bar with even more force.

Once you can hold a 1 Handed Hang for 60 seconds on both sides consider your grip strength to be at a very proficient level.  

Grip Strength Routine Video

Grip Strength Routine Recommendations

I recommend following a schedule of 3-4 days per week.

You can go through the above routine once, twice, or three times if desired.

Here are some sample routines to follow:

Mon/Wed/Fri

Mon/Tues/Thur/Fri

Sun/Tues/Thur/Sat

How Long Will It Take To Have A Strong Grip?

It will take 9-12 weeks of consistent training to improve your grip strength.

Of course, it’s about consistency and sticking with a grip training routine.

If you ever find yourself becoming less motivated with this routine don’t be afraid to change it up or switch up your schedule.

Can You Do More Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups With A Stronger Grip?

Yes, absolutely.

A stronger grip means you will be able to do more pull-ups and chin-ups.

When you improve your grip strength it also contributes to the rest of your body because everything is interconnected.

For example, if you improve your grip strength, you’ll be able to hold yourself in a position for longer which in turn builds endurance.

Then, your entire workout will improve and become more efficient.

Benefits Of Having A Strong Grip

Beyond strengthening your forearm muscles, fingers and hands there are many benefits to adding grip work to your bodyweight training routine.

Here are just a few:

  • Grip strength can help prevent tendinitis
  • Lowers your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Reduce risks of arthritis
  • More resilient to injuries

We go deeper into this topic in our Benefits of Adding Grip Exercises to your Routine article.

Show/Hide Comments (10 comments)
L
10 Comments
  1. ramos

    Thank you for the tips

    Reply
  2. Lance

    i’ve tried 3-4 times, and that link always fails c. 1/3 to 1/2.
    what appears to be spam i guess is the link to”website”

    Reply
  3. Håkan

    Hi Todd!

    Interesting reading on gripstrength.
    I do my griptraining twice a week and it’s mostly Rolling Handle and onearm deadlifts.
    Sometimes I also do pinchlifts and platecurls.
    All these exercises work really hard on my flexors and I usually train my extensors once a week.
    For my extensorwork I use rubberbands over my fingertips and force them open and I also use a oversized can filled with a few kilos of sand, put my hand in it and extend my fingers to lift the can up. By can i mean a big container where there used to be some kind of “gainers powder” in it.

    And sorry for my english, it’s not my native language but I hope you all understand what I have written.

    Merry X-mas and a happy new year 🙂

    Reply
  4. Gary

    Todd,
    I can’t believe this showed up today in my email! I’ve been doing your Isometrics program and just completed week one. I was thinking about grip strength and boom here it is! It’s a perfect add on for the program. Dang, now you’re a mind reader. Thank You so much Todd! Gary

    Reply
  5. Genaro

    Hi Todd this is very interesting i have been trying to source exercises to improve my grip i will difinitely give these a try.
    Where did you get your pull up bar from? Seems to have a lot of choice for hand positions i need one like that.

    Thanks Mate

    Reply
  6. Strus

    There is a huuuge step from 4 to alternate 4. There are many steps between, where you hang using bar in one hand and atowel in the other, then towels in 2 hands then some fingers to help, tetc

    Reply
  7. Don B

    I know this should be about working out, but your daughter is like your Mini-me! Very cute! Your daughter, not you. Just in case. 😉

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      LOL! I have heard that she is a mini-me many times Don. I definitely have some strong genes! 😉

      Reply
  8. Siddharth

    Hi!
    love your workouts as they are all bodyweight based but du to lack of time in my schedule…
    i haven’t been able to actually reach the goal that i want to achieve.
    i just want a perfect ripped body with muscles shaped and ripped specially chest and arms…and my lower body and obviously fat loss workout too.. I want short workouts…well it might be hard to get shorter workouts but well i thought i might just give a try by mailing u…
    thanks Todd 🙂

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      Hi Siddharth,

      Yeah, its totally fine to do short workouts if they are very intense. Most of my workouts on the site are short. Also, in order to get “ripped” you really have to hammer down on your diet. Drop the carbs WAY down and get some healthy meats and fats in your diet. Also drop the processed foods. Good luck!

      Reply
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