Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
February 27, 2024
Grip Strength Will Help Your Bench
by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com

Grip StrengthThe strongest man is usually not the biggest, or the most sculpted, but has the strongest tendons. In benching much of the tendon strength has to do with having strong forearms and very powerful fingers. In benching the harder you squeeze the bar then the more lockout power you will have. How do I know? Well, take a weight that is about 20lbs below your bench max and try to bench it without squeezing hard. What has just happened? You probably failed or moved it very slowly. Now squeeze the bar as hard as you can and you probably just blasted the weight.

In fact I believe in grip strength so much that I think that just by squeezing the bar harder on all your exercises will end any doubt you might have. If you squeeze the dumbbells, the barbells every time then that alone will help you bench more as you start training heavier in your quest for strength. I know that for me personally I have locked out quadruple weights and injured hands through squeezing techniques. Let's go over a list of creative exercises to improve your tendon strength to give you that extra edge on your benching power, whether you are bored at someone's house, working construction or watching television. And remember the forearms are a muscle group that are hard to overtrain. So apply some of these techniques into your routine.

The Open Palm Deadlift-

Grab the handle and hold on. This will increase grip strength!

Farmers Walk-

Take 2 dumbbells in each hand and run around the gym or outside with them. This will get your grip stronger.

The Pinch Grip Strength Device-

You can perform upright rows, 1 arm rows and farmer walks with these just by squeezing them. These work a lot like clamps or little balls that you squeeze, but of course you can adjust the tension of how hard you squeeze at your own risk.

Medicine Ball Grip Training-

Another fun (and inexpensive) way to train grip strength is to use partially inflated medicine balls of different weights. Shown here are homemade balls of 8 and 15#. To make your own, buy playground rubber balls and a pair of needlenose pliers (to remove and re-insert plug) and fill with water from the tap. The more fully inflated the ball, the wider (and stronger) the grip needed to hold on. Another option for homemade pinch training devices? heavy books or dictionaries. Start with an abridged version and work up to Webster's Complete.

Squeeze a Towel-

Get a towel wet and start squeezing it.

Do Finger Curls With Plates-

Take a 25lbs plate, wrap your fingers in the holes and do curls with the plates. Another exercise with plate: Take a plate, throw it around your body and grab it with the other hand. Keep going until you fatigue.

One Arm Curls With A Barbell-

Do 1 arm curls with a barbell. A sears barbell preferred if you have one and aren't ready for an Olympic 45lbs dumbbell yet.

Towel Curls-

Take a towel, put it between a plate and curl away. Do hammer curls with them.

Plate Rotation-

Swing the plate forward in front of you so that the plate is at about face level. As the plate is at about eye level and at arm's length in front of you, give the plate a little push forward with the tips of your fingers. This slight push on the edge of the plate as you let go of the plate will cause it to rotate or spin. As the plate rotates, you grasp the other side as it comes around-this is a half turn of the plate.

From here, let the plate swing between your legs and then up to face level again, and once again give the plate a slight push forward as you let go, so that it rotates another half turn; grasp it on the other side as it comes around and let the plate swing down again between your legs. As you get used to this, try to turn the plate a complete 360-degree revolution and catch it, then let it swing between your legs and rotate it again. Remember, the harder you push the plate, the faster it rotates.

Occasionally I catch a 50-pound plate after it has rotated two complete revolutions. Swinging and catching the rotating plate is a great challenge and a great way to develop a powerful explosive grip. As you improve, move to heavier plates to rotate. You can also catch the plate with one hand instead of both hands, or as I mentioned, you can try and spin or rotate the plate more than one revolution. If you have trouble catching the plate, just let it fall to the ground in front and away from your body. Good luck and good plate rotating.

Do Curls With Boards-

Take a thin board and just curl it, this forces you to work your grip.

Grip strength with Hand GrippersHand Grippers-

Handgrippers are designed for building superior hand strength. To do this you must train your hand similar to any other body part and use low reps. You will not develop a super strong grip by doing a lot of repetitions. Like any other bodypart, don't forget to warm-up and stretch your hands.

Keep the reps in the range of 5 to 25. If you are able to do 15 to 25 reps with a particular strength of gripper, it is a good time to move up to the next level of gripper. Even if you aren't able to close the next level you can do partials, forced reps and assisted negatives until you are fully able to close it. The average person has trouble being able to close the HG200 on the first try and many report after a couple of months of training they are easily closing it for reps.

Weight Crawls-

Place both block weights on the ground at about shoulder-width apart. You will also want to use either an outdoor setting or an indoor setting with carpet. Be sure to avoid slick surfaces where you can scratch the floor or slip and turn over the block weights. Once you have the proper setting with the block weights about shoulder width apart, put yourself in a push-up position with your hands on the weights. Position the weights so that they are steady or balanced on the ground. If they are rectangular, be sure to place them so that the longer part of the weight is going north and south. This will help you balance better.

With your body prone in a push-up position, lift the block in your right hand with a pinch- grip and move it forward about a foot or so, while holding and balancing with your left hand on the other block weight. Then move the block in your left hand forward up to the other block using a pinch-grip. Continue to move forward in this manner, pinching and moving the blocks forward. These weight crawls will dramatically test your grip along with your entire body. You can also move backwards and sideways using this movement.

Try to keep your body prone in a push-up position as you move forward with the weights. If you can't keep your back somewhat straight at first, round your back into more of a bear-crawl position until you can eventually keep your back straight. Also, take care to balance properly on the blocks before you move in any direction.

The weight crawl is simply world-class when it comes to building hand and upper body strength. You are using the pulling muscles as you lift and move the block weights, and the pushing muscles as you balance and support your weight on one block with one hand as you move the other block. As you continue to get stronger you can travel greater distances, pinching and moving the blocks forward.

Finger Walking With Boards-

Put a big board in your hand and slowly take each finger and inch by inch climb up to the top of the board. This will do wonders for grip strength.

Brick Challenge-

Grab a bunch of bricks, pile them up, and try to support them so they don't fall.

Sledge Hammer Toss-

Take a sledge hammer, and throw it up as high as you can. This does a great deal for your grip and forearm strength.

Stool Lift With Plate-

Lift a stool, but put a plate on the stool and try to balance it.

Grip Strength - Thick Dumbbell Handle Thick Bars-

Get a thick bar and try to grip it. This makes gripping a weight more challenging and will do a lot for your tendon and ligament strength when stepping under the bench press bar.

Using thicker grips on dumbbells can help tremendously. If you need thicker dumbbell grips you can buy them here.

Hold The Weight At Lockout When Benching-

In my opinion this is the most important step at all. When you hold the weight at lockout you are automatically strengthening your ligaments and tendons. This strengthens your attachments for bigger weights.

Rack lockouts-

Obviously you should be able to lockout more than you can bench press for a full repetition so if you lockout more you will have better grip strength. If you support 600lbs in the racks a lot obviously you will be able to support much larger weights than if you were a strong bodybuilder who never overloaded his tendons with partial rep movements.

Train With Low Reps-

When you train with singles, lower reps and heavier weights you are strengthening your attachments.

Ivanko Super GripperSuper Gripper-

The Ivanko Super Gripper is one of the most efficient forearm strengthening tools known to man. At just over two pounds, the Super Gripper is lightweight, portable and perfect for anyone who is serious about grip strength.

The sturdy die-cast metal frame is extremely durable and the pair of high tensile springs can be easily adjusted to provide over forty resistance levels. More springs are available upon request.


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