5 Exercises To Build Crushing Grip Strength
Here’s how to take your grip from wimpy to bone-crushing

June 17, 2015

If the only time you care about your grip is during a handshake, you’re missing out. A bone-crushing grip can skyrocket your gains in the weight room. That’s because forearm, wrist, and hand strength is essential to both lifting power and stamina, says BJ Gaddour,Men’s Health Fitness Director.

Here are 5 ways to build your grip so you can build more muscle all over.

1. Two-Arm Hang


Hanging from a bar sounds easy, but it’s one of the best ways to gauge and improve your grip, according to Dan John, strength coach, and author of Intervention.

Do it: Hang at arm’s length from a pullup bar, using an overhand grip that’s slightly beyond shoulder width. Your goal: three 1-minute hangs. If you can’t hang for that long, work your way up in increments of 5 to 10 seconds


2. Offset Hang


Once you nail the two-arm hang, try this harder version. It requires holding on to the bar with one hand and a towel with the other. The hand on the bar must do the majority of the work.

Do it: Loop a towel over a pullup bar and hold both ends in one hand. Grab the bar with the other hand using an overhand grip. Complete two 1-minute hangs (one with each hand on the towel). Rest as needed.


3. Single-Arm Hang


This version of the hang is ultra challenging because hand must hold all of your body weight. You’re also less stable.

“You can’t use your other hand to keep you from swaying, you need to use the muscles in your hand and forearm to clench the bar and reduce any movement,” says Gaddour.

Do it: Hang from a pullup bar using only one arm. You can hold your other arm out to the side for balance, or hold it against your torso. 

Start with a 10-second hang. Add 10-second increments until you can perform a 1-minute hang on each arm.

4. Pullup and Chinup


The pullup and chinup are best known as back-building movements, but they’re also great grip builders. Your hands and forearms must support your body weight with each rep.

Do it: For a pullup, grab the bar with an overhand grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder width. For a chinup, grab the bar with an underhand grip.

For each rep, start in a dead hang and then pull your chest to the bar. Press your thighs together, brace your abs, and point your legs slightly in front of you to form a wide C. Maintain this rigid position throughout the entire movement.


5. Towel Chinup


When you grip a towel or vertical handles, your hands and forearms must work harder to hold on than when you use a horizontal bar.

Do it: Loop two towels over a pullup bar and grab the ends in each hand so they’re about shoulder-width apart. Perform a chinup.