Grabbing. Striking. Gouging. Catching. Twisting. Holding. The list of combative uses for our hands is almost endless. The one thing all these actions have in common is the absolute necessity for strength in the fingers, hands and wrists.
Whether empty-handed or armed, you simply cannot have too much grip strength. In this article we will explore some of the ways you can increase your hand and wrist strength in ways that are fun, practical (useful in combat) and inexpensive.
First I would like to address a few commonly used but remarkably ineffective ways to train your grip. The first is the common, plastic-handled hand gripper that is available in most sporting goods and department stores. For most people, these simply do not offer enough resistance to build any real strength. If you are looking to build strength with a hand gripper, there are some heavy duty ones available online at www.ironmind.com.
The second is the over-the-edge-of-a-bench wrist curl seen at practically every gym in the country. While it is better than nothing, and will build a certain amount of strength, the structural weakness of the wrist prevents using any appreciable amount of weight and leaves the trainer prone to injury. The risk-to-benefit ratio simply isn't worth it.
So, you may be wondering, What can I do to improve my hand strength? Here are a few exercises that are extremely effective in developing functional combative hand strength:
- Towel Chins - Take a regular ol bath towel and throw it over a chin-up bar so that both ends hang down. Grab one end in each hand and do chin-ups. Vary the sets and reps according to you ability. You can also hold both ends together in one hand and just hang for time. This is very similar to grabbing clothing or limbs I combat.
- Bag Toss - Get a medium-sized canvas or burlap bag and fill it about half full with rice or sand. Depending on you level of conditioning it should weigh 5-10 lbs. Throw it up in the air and explosively catch it. Sink your fingers into it and snatch it out of the air forcefully.
Think of catching an incoming strike. Play catch with a partner. This kind of drill will help your hand-eye co-ordination and timing as well as hand strength. Do this for a few minutes everyday and once a week add a handful of sand or rice to the bag.
- Pinching Plates - Take two barbell plates and put them together. Hold them with your thumb on one side and four fingers on the other and lift them off the floor. This is called a pinch grip. Start with Two 10lb plates. Lifting two 25lb plates like this is very good. If you can lift two 45lb Olympic plates like this, then your grip is world class.
- Towel Wringing - Fill a bucket about half full with water and mark a line at the top of the water level. Remember the towel from the previous drill? Take it and put it in the bucket. Hold it over the top of the bucket and wring it out so that the water goes back in. You goal is to get the water back up to the mark you made earlier. This will work your hands and wrists from all angles.
These are just a few ways you can improve your grip. Be creative. Find ways to use other everyday objects or drills you are already doing to develop hand strength. Progress steadily and safely. You'll be glad you did.