If you are wondering how to improve grip strength for deadlifts then you are in the right spot.
That’s my wife and I (Katie & Kevin) aka K Squared deadlifting.
If you notice in the photo I’m using an axle bar (fat bar) which really challenges your grip strength.
Quick note and then we can get into the education of how to improve your grip strength…
…your grip strength is going to help you in everything:
- Pull ups (be able to do more)
- Cycling a barbell (be able to hang on longer)
- Heavier deadlifts (lift more)
But too often I see athletes flipping their grip and busting out straps when it gets heavy.
In today’s blog I’ll talk about a few different things:
- How to improve your grip strength
- The best exercises/drills you can do to train your grip
Check out the strength training program (same one my NFL athletes follow by clicking here.)
How To Improve Grip Strength
Working on my grip strength is something that I grew up doing…
…because I had a purpose.
You want to improve your deadlift. I wanted to increase my velocity on my fast ball and do
more pull ups.
When you are training with a purpose you are already ahead of the game.
Before I get into exercises I want to talk about a few things:
- Tempo work vs high reps
- Isometric holds
Tempo Work To Improve Grip Strength
Time under tension.
A great way to get stronger, build muscle is to add time under tension.
Check out this video:
First off notice I am NOT flipping my grip.
To get a better grip you have to first train double overhand position.
We will get to drills/exercises etc in a little bit.
I was focusing on time under tension by having a slight pause and controlling the barbell throughout full
range of motion.
High Reps To Improve Grip Strength
Time under tension.
Lifting with higher reps also is a way to accumulate time under tension and increase your strength
In this video I’m challenging my grip, my legs, my back and really getting a tough challenge.
When you are doing higher rep deadlifts it should never sacrifice form and always be at a weight
that is appropriate for you.
I believe I have 325 or something close to it on the barbell and with all of those reps I didn’t let my form
A good strength training program should guide you through different strength waves using either
percentages and or RPE to manage the amount of volume that is being accumulated.
Isometric Holds To Improve Grip Strength
I’m a huge fan of isometrics.
They are freaking hard though.
I’m also the kind of coach that programs hard things because I want to challenge you and myself to get
better so we can have achieve optimal performance.
Farmer Carry Benefits
These bad boys are an awesome way to get a really great isometric work on your forearms.
I like farmer carries so much I actually did a full write up on the benefits of farmer carry here.
Plate Pinch Carry
The farmer grip whether on a dumbbell, kettlebell or even the farmer carry handles that I have
has your entire hand gripping the weight.
With the plate pinch carry it’s a special variation that isn’t done often enough and will really expose
your forearms if your grip is weak.
This exercises is tough.
For reference I use 25 lbs plates for longer time under tension and 45lb plate for shorter heaver holds.
Dumbbell Hex Hold
I don’t have a video tutorial on this exercise but this is another great one.
Then again, it’s really simple.
Instead of holding the dumbbell by the handles have your entire hand grab the ends of the dumbbell
and hold that.
I often add this into my training days when I’m doing a lot of pulling.
Something along the lines of:
- 30 second on 30 second off
Variations For How To Improve Grip Strength
Above we talked about tempo, high reps, isometrics and I gave you a few different exercises to try that
will help you improve your grip strength.
I thought it would be a good idea to also give you a reference on deadlifting for correct form as well.
That way you aren’t just gripping and ripping 🙂
Variation I Do During Warm Ups
Every day I deadlift in my warm up sets (after getting my hamstrings warmed up) I use fat grips.
The fat grips challenge my grip because of the added circumference which is one variation that’s fun
to challenge your forearm strength.
Often times in our strength training program we will:
- Build up to a heavy for a primer
- Come back down to work on percentages
- Then “grease the groove” and work higher reps and %
If I can manage it I will use an axle bar or my fat grips.
Variation I Do During My Cool Down
On pulling days I’ll often have a finisher where I will grab my forearm grips and bust out some reps.
I have the Skillz grip which allows me to adjust the difficulty.
Just like we talked about this entire blog…
…that means some days will be:
- heavy low reps
- lighter higher reps
- moderate weight with 2-3 second squeeze on each rep
To increase your grip strength/forearms you want to challenge your grip in three different ways:
- Tempo (heavy load)
- High reps (time under tension)
- Isometric holds (burn baby burn
Above I gave you several different exercises to choose from to add into your strength training.
Check our our strength training program and all the details by clicking on our training programs.
Comment below with what your greatest take away was and if you found this helpful!
Frequently Asked Questions
What's the best grip for deadlift?
Hook grip. Do not flip or "mix" your grip. You put your bicep at risk of injury and also it doesn't carry over to anything. If you want to learn how to do power cleans and things of that nature you want to get in the habit of having double overhand grip.
The hook grip (will be painful at first) will make sure the bar doesn't slip out of your hands.
Should I wear straps?
My professional opinion...
...no. I a full believer in if you can't pick it up you need to strengthen your forearms and grip. I'm fully aware that overloading your system so that you can get stronger. I hear you on that but I'm a believer in other ways to get stronger. Doing tempo work, strengthening your grip, doing unilateral work, reverse hypers, etc.
Any other questions leave them in the comments below and I'm happy to help.
Be sure to comment below with:
- any additional questions
- your biggest take aways
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