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Fun and Fitness: Geting a grip on things

Rick Melo | Interrobang | Sports | February 13th, 2012

Typically, bodybuilders and athletes are not asked how much they can grip — the popular line of questioning seems to be around how much one can bench, or how large one's biceps are. However, grip training can positively impact most athletes, in terms of both the quality of their training programs and the type of results they attain.

Grip training can heavily influence the amount of weight lifted for all upper-body movements and can develop the forearms to such a degree that one is prompted to take a double take upon first seeing the incredible forearm results.

An improvement in gripping strength generally means an overall improvement in quality, as far as lifting immense weights in other movements is concerned. For example, bent rowing, a fundamental back movement, will suffer if one's grip is not up to standard. There could always be an argument made for wraps, but these are controversial at best and are thought to compromise technique. A strong grip is essential to training progress, as most movements are dependent on correct gripping technique and strength. Chin-ups rely on a solid grip and heavy benches could potentially cause wrist injury in those lacking in grip strength.

If one's forearms are lagging, specialized grip training could be just the thing they need to break this plateau. Direct forearm work is good and should be continued, but gripping work stimulates all forearm musculature and provides the additional exercise volume needed to enhance new growth. The forearms, much like the stubborn calves, need a lot of work to respond.

Day to day activities such as turning door knobs, opening jars and performing mechanical repairs also benefit from a strong grip. Competitive athletes in wrestling and mixed martial arts also gain obvious benefits from possessing solid grip strength. So before you resort to wraps for managing your heavy lifts, try to focus on improving your grip strength first. You may be amazed to find new improvements in your overall regime and a possible avenue for getting past some of those dreaded workout plateaus!
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