When Kung Fu grip comes to mind, a classic Shaw Brothers Kung Fu flick comes to present thought. Some outlandish story of a student seeking revenge and being trained by a Kung Fu Master whom is stumbled upon. The master puts the student through unorthodox training that is unconventional and appears ridiculous and rigorous.
Pay close attention to the training when watching these old movies. You will notice hand conditioning is demonstrated more than half the time. Techniques such as gripping and shattering eggs, holding huge pots up laterally with just finger tips, and shooting finger tips into huge rice pots are the antics.
After the training the student will confront his enemy once again and win the fight. In the final battle you will notice the student uses a grip technique to finish off his opponent, either jamming his fingers into the rib cage or ripping the opponents flesh off (sorry for the graphic imagery)!
Training hands results in grip strength, period, thus creating titanium fingers and a handshake to crush. Grip strength turns your hands into lethal weapons and should be trained responsibly. This article provides you with an idea of how important grip training is. If you want to become stronger and be better at what you do in life…. Practice your grip!
Tools of the Trade for Grip Strength
Many gimmicky items are out there that you can purchase, especially in martial art catalogs. My advice is to stay away from them. You will find simply training with martial arts weapons and/or specialized weapon training tools, such as Indian Clubs, Steel Clubs, and my two favorites the Steel Mace, and Kettlebells, will do wonders.
The tools referenced generally use the closed grip and create extreme centrifugal force that require you to hold on tight because someone or something in your area might get damaged. To develop grip strength is the only option in ballistic motions with these tools.
There are beginner tools that are convenient and great for car rides such as finger grip tools from the makers, ProHands. Also, classic crush grippers are great stress relievers and increase grip strength.
For quick and easy results, all that you need is a bar to hang from and a towel. Hanging from a bar with closed and hook grip can make the hands invincible. Once your grip is strong enough on the bar, you progress to hanging from a towel. Towel hanging will improve both finger and thumb grip immensely.
Progressing to a thicker towel will increase the intensity. Hanging from a towel gripped only with one arm will cause you to have immediate respect for the towel. There are specialized tools that can be purchased, like globe grips or handle bar grips to hang from and beneficial to train on for American Ninja Warrior athletes.
You can get a little more fancy by using barbells for deadlifts, climbing ropes, or specialized rock climbing molds, such as Rock Rings or rock climbing boards to increase grip strength. A thrifty way to change up grip strength is to mount a 2×4 to the wall and hang from that. The possibilities for increasing grip strength are endless.
Hanging from your hands on a bar or tree branch with your bodyweight is all you’ll need. Our bodies are heavy, so use it. It’s way more convenient to use our bodies than look for something heavy, the answer lies within you. Many things are considered when using the bar such as packing the shoulders, hook grip, closed grip, dead arm hang, and bent arm hang.
The dead arm hang consists of grasping the bar and hanging all your body weight on the hands and shoulder girdle. The moment shoulder packing starts in a dead arm hang, lift the chest up from the shoulders. You will cradle your shoulders in proper position in the girdle of the joint and help strengthen the Latissimus Dorsi. The hook grip is demonstrated by using only the 4 fingers excluding the thumb to bar hang.
This will develop strength primarily in your fingers, which is highly overlooked as integral to grip strength. Closed grip is vital and most common. Closed grip is when your fingers and thumb clasp the bar. One con of the closed grip is that calluses in the palm are sensitive and will get irritated. A bent arm hang is a little more difficult, since it involves supporting your bodyweight with a 90 degree hold, using all muscles in the arms as one unit in an isometric stance.
Tool Sharpening & Hand Care
Hand care is highly overlooked and should not be neglected. When training your hands you will get calluses on the palms and skin tears. Always keep close attention to them to prevent a potential issue, such as a callus or large area of skin ripping off because of neglect.
Training for a week or two will now be lost because your hands need to heal. Your hands are needed for pretty much every exercise you can think of. Many modern day gym rats look at a ripped bloodied hands as glorified proof measuring how hard they are working out. Once again, this is the wrong attitude to have because you’ll be benched while someone smarter is still getting stronger.
There are many accessories to use when a problem with blisters is identified. Athletic tape, ranch gloves, gym gloves, gymnastic palm protectors, and gym chalk are all helpful when dealing with hand injuries. The hands may get dry from the usage, so using hand creams and rock climbing butter help revitalize the hands.
When the calluses build up they need to be shaved down. This is a constant and never ending battle with your hands. You can use products such as nail clippers, pumice stones, and emery boards to shave down calluses on your hands. Shave or pick at the calluses downward towards the wrist.
If you rip upward you risk the chance of tearing the crevice part of your palm that meets the fingers. This part of the skin is extremely sensitive. The best time to shave calluses is when you get out of the shower and they are moist. Some people don’t like rough hands and these methods keep them fresh.
Warriors of Old
Old time strongmen only cared about strengthening their body and being more capable than the guy next to them. Their concern was to survive and outperform the next guy in survival. Their only concern was to be capable, not vanity such as “look how big my Bicep is”. Grip makes functional strength possible.
A strong grip creates the totality of strength. The lateral, posterior, and anterior chain are utilized when grip is activated, creating sequential muscle contraction. Grip is what makes any exercise you can think of possible. The old time strong men knew this! If you want to be better at what you do, practice your grip.
Furthermore, from a warrior stand point. Grip strength meant life or death for them. Battles and wars lasted days and hours so grip strength and endurance were vital. Old warriors had to carry heavy shields and weapons for combat, if they lacked endurance and grip strength they weren’t coming home.