How to Exercise With Hand Grips

Patient doing some special exercises
A woman is using a hand gripper. (Image: aykuterd/iStock/Getty Images)

A stronger grip can benefit athletes of every skill level -- from weekend warrior to professional. Many strength and conditioning programs include wrist exercises, but exercises that specifically target the gripping muscles of the hand and forearm are often overlooked. Mechanical hand grips -- essentially stout springs with handles on them -- are inexpensive training devices that isolate the muscles important to grip strength. Work in several sets of exercises with hand grips during your regular upper-body training to quickly tone and strengthen your fingers, wrists and forearms.

Step 1

Place one handle of the hand grip against your palm to begin a squeeze-and-release exercise. Wrap your fingers around the other handle. Squeeze the handles together as far as you can. Hold the closed position for 5 seconds, then slowly release your grip. Start with two sets of 10 squeezes for each hand, then build up over several weeks to four sets.

Step 2

Grip a hand grip between the palm and fingers of one hand, as far toward the tips of you fingers as possible, to prepare to do a reverse squeeze exercise. Close the grip using both hands. Pull your "helper" hand away, and release the grip as slowly as you can. Start with two sets of five reverse squeezes with each hand, then build up to four sets as you get stronger.

Step 3

Place the hand grip against the palm of you hand, then place the tips of your fingers on the finger springs or "buttons." Curl your fingers toward your palm to close the springs, then slowly release your grip. Add difficulty to this exercise by curling in only one finger at a time. Start with just one set of 10 finger curls on each hand, then work your way up to three or four sets.

Tip

Squeezing exercises build strength in the large muscles of your forearms with basic squeezing exercises. The brachioradialis and carpal flexor muscles generate a large proportion of your grip strength. Most wrist and grip exercises work these muscles to an extent, but you can focus on them by doing the squeeze-and-release exercise in Step 1.

Reverse-squeeze exercises improve your hand and forearm extensor muscles. Carpal extensor muscles are difficult to isolate, unless you invest in some fairly pricey, purpose-built commercial devices. Use a hand grip rated one strength level higher than you normally use for squeezing exercises.

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