Better pull-ups through grip strength training


Last week I was talking with an athlete about pull-up strength, she said “I feel like I can do more pull-ups, but my hands just can’t hold on to the bar.”  Today, we’ll look at a few ways that your grip factors into the exercises you perform regularly.  Also, a few grip specific exercises can help you strengthen all aspects of a well rounded grip, including fingers, wrists, and forearms.

Your grip strength can impact exercises like deadlifts, pull-ups, cleans, snatches, toes2bar, kettle bell swings, etc.

Types of Grip Training 

Crushing Grip- is the grip between your fingers and your palm- think about holding onto a waterbottle, a dumbell, crushing a can.
Pinching Grip- is the grip between your fingers and your thumb. This can be further subcategorized into individual fingers + thumb grip- Often used in handstand stability or handstand walks.
The Support Grip- is the ability to maintain a hold on something for a while—think pull ups or farmers carry.

For more info on types of grip strength, check out-

5 Exercises That Improve Grip Strength

  1. Axle Bar Training- This is a barbell bell with nearly 2″ diameter. Can be used in many of the same movements as a standard barbell.
  2. Hanging- Pull-ups are a great grip strengthening exercise, but you can add specific focus to your grip with adding hang time.
  3. Plate Pinchers- Grab a 10, 25, or 45 lb. bumper and pinch.
  4. Crush Grippers- A small handheld crushing exercise used by old school strength athletes for years.
  5. Fat Gripz- These are rupper bar attachments that can be used on barbells, dumbells, and pull-up bars.

“In a seminar held on April 16, 2011, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Dr. Herrera said that lifting straps allow an athlete to apply 100 percent of the force of the legs and lower back to the barbell. He also said that for many athletes, using a hook (thumbs under fingers) enables a lifter to apply 75 percent of the force, and with a conventional grip, 50 percent. Therefore, it is important to improve grip strength in order to increase strength and to demonstrate strength in a weightlifting competition.”-