You, right now, literally have the chance to grasp hold of ridiculous levels of power with your very hands. A mighty grip holds more power and responsibility than being able to open the pickle jar when you couldn't before. Cold, hard, dense weights of iron that drain the energy of most guys with big upper arms can even feel like child's play to someone with a superior grip power.
Ripping full decks of cards lengthwise or even bending steel bolts can be accomplished with sufficient grip training. My mentor developed the strength to rip phonebooks in half in 7 WEEKS with his grip training. Imagine the satisfaction you'll feel, the desirous stares you'll get, and the passion you'll experience if you entered a gym and managed to wrist curl more than most can curl with their biceps. Even better, if you have a truly strong grip, your whole arm will bristle with power. And that only BEGINS to cover the overall value of a strong grip.
A Steel Pipe and a Feather - The Weakest Link
Grip training covers most of what you'll seek in terms of upper body strength. Everything, nearly. I feel, just as Bruce Lee felt, that forearms should be worked more frequently because they are involved in almost every exercise you perform. Barbell, dumbbell, and especially kettlebell exercises require some grip strength. In the cases of men like Logan Christopher, who performs reps in the hundreds with his kettlebell swings, requires a powerful grip not only to lift the weight, but to endure such high volume exercises.
Really, grip strength completes the equation of strength. Having a weak grip destroys your whole chain of power because of that one weak link. It's like trying to defend yourself with a feather attached to a steel pipe. That pipe can be reinforced with as many inches of thick metal as you want, but that feather won't transfer even a fraction of the power in that pipe.
Having a powerful grip also helps to strengthen your wrists, which is helping me improve in bodyweight exercises that require strong wrist stability. Leaving your grip untrained can be as simple as choosing to suffer wrist injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, or other wrist conditions.
As a martial artist or fighter, grip has a much stronger impact than you might imagine. The strength and snap of your punch increases as your forearms increase in strength. Almost every wrestler has experienced the fear of grappling with someone of superior grip strength, and suffering the consequences. Someone with a stronger grip can break down every hold you try to work, and counter it with something you can't hope to escape.
Even arts that require you use you opponent's strength instead of your own, such as aikido, can truly benefit from grip strength. Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, had wrists so thick that it appeared that his forearms went directly into his hands; he was said to have the strength to crush young sections of a bamboo plant with his bare hands.
So getting the kind of crazy strong grip that can rend young bamboo isn't just from big forearm muscles; your wrists and even your fingers get thicker, more supple, and stronger from your training. Various strongmen, from the notable Jedd Johnson to the ferocious Matti Marzel, the physical culture Renaissance man Logan Christopher, and more have chimed in on how training your grip affects your wrist size, forearm size and strength for the better.
In Logan Christopher's book on achieving remarkable strength even with unremarkable size, Deceptive Strength, he mentions how Slim "The Hammerman Farman", the legendary strength protege of Joseph "The Mighty Atom" Greenstein, is said to have tendons in his own wrists that are wider than most people's fingers.
This kind of strength is built over time; The Hammerman developed his wrist strength training with different weight hammers, leveraging them so that they were only inches from his face. The amount of grip strength that requires is something that barely any 400+ lb bench presser, deadlifter, or heavy squatter can manage.
This is the true power behind grip strength; your training will transform you from the inside out. Your dense forearm muscles will get denser from hypertrophy, your ability to contract those muscles will improve, and the tendons that support those muscles will be like titanium cords. Performing things like various finger push/pullups or ripping phonebooks become simple with great grip training.
Okay, what if you don't seek the strength to rip a phonebook in two (but really, it's quite the skill to have)? Well, according to a report by the University of Connecticut's Department of Kinesiology, your grip is an indicator of your health overall. A frail grip is usually a sign of frail health overall. Still not important? The article says that grip strength can be used to “predict things in the future like post-operative complications and even death.” I think THAT'S pretty important, don't you?
How to Train Your Grip
Grip strength training isn't a secret; there's a multitude of ways to train it if you want real strength.
I've done an article on the benefits of isometrics on tendon strength; that means that whatever training you do isometrically to develop hand strength will help to make your forearms like heavy steel pipes, not just big and bloated. When you do an isometric contraction, you want to put at least 60% of your force into the contraction. How do you measure 60%? You can't really, so we're gonna have to settle with DOING THE CONTRACTION AS HARD AS YOU CAN. Hand grippers are beautiful when it comes to building this strength. Or, if you're near a metal railing that's thick enough to grab with your hand and still having some space, try squeezing that metal railing AS HARD AS YOU CAN for 10 seconds. Repeat that about 5 times. If the railing isn't thick enough, try twisting your wrist as if trying to bend the railing (don't actually bend the railing, Hulk.)
Devoting some workout time to wrist curls could be critical to improving that iron grip you've always wanted. Take it from Grandmaster Strongman Dennis Rogers, who, in the photo above, is casually wrist curling 220 lbs with each pinky finger. If that's not grip strength, I'm the Prime Minister of Croatia.
All you'll need is a pair of dumbbells or a barbell. Grab it with an underhanded grip, but don't use underhanded tactics to curl it, like lifting with your biceps. This is a wrist curl, so only your wrists should be working. With the underhanded grip, squeeze the weight and curl it as high as you can so that your knuckles are almost pointing upwards. Remember that your forearms shouldn't be moving during this movement, only your wrists.
If you reverse the grip to an overhanded grip and try the same movement, you can strengthen the extensors of your forearms as well, which are sometimes neglected even with grip training regimens. However, my favorite way to train the extensors is with...
Wrist pushups can hard to me at first. I hadn't trained wrists before really, but I was overzealous and tried to jump into it. My first pushup had me sitting on my bed re-evaluating every bad decision I've ever made in my life. But I was determined not to give up, so I made it a part of my regular workout.
Wrist pushups, for me, have singly handedly had one of the best effects on grip strength. The stronger my extensors were, the more they complemented the strength of my flexors (trained with wrist curls). I increased my count for fingertip pushups, and even began typing quicker (a must for any Internet marketer). Of all my exercises, I'm most looking forward to the strength results of these, but these strength results would be minimal if wrist pushups were the only things I did. It takes a complete grip regimen, including the isometrics, wrist curls, kettlebell training, rope pulls, wrist pushups, or whatever else to have a truly iron grip. Finding just one or two ways to improve that strength will leave you only a couple paces further than when you began.
So the next time you're in the gym, think about the power that you can have right in the palm of your hands. Then go earn it. You'll thank yourself in the long run.