I have some bad news: your hands are weak. That is, assuming you’re a keyboard warrior that doesn’t go rock climbing regularly. True hand strength doesn’t have a place in most people’s fitness routines, and even people who lift weights regularly may be surprised by how weak their hands are.
Then again, maybe you already know.
That’s because there are basically two types of grip strength–crushing and pinching–that utilize two distinct muscle and tendon groups. Crushing strength is what you use in a handshake, and it’s what is typically thought of as grip strength. You can increase your crushing strength through using hand grippers, doing “pulling” exercises such as deadlifts and chin-ups, and generally carrying around heavy stuff.
Your pinch grip isn’t utilized quite as often in everyday life (unless you live with mountain goats). However, it’s important to have a well-developed pinch grip in order to keep your hand healthy and in balance. Plus, when the occasion for a strong pinch grip does strike, you’ll be prepared to leave your onlookers stupefied.
Or just pinch somebody really hard.
Your pinch grip is activated anytime you need to squeeze something tight without being able to curl your fingers in. The most obvious example is carrying a heavy book by pinching down from the top. Of course, you’re not going to be able to increase your pinch grip strength much through books alone (especially if your idea of a book is a tablet with Kindle on it). Weight plates with flat sides are better, but they’re still not designed with pinch training in mind.
Luckily, there are some very specialized pieces of equipment that are built specifically for the task and allow you to progress in weight. The Blockbuster Pinch Grip Block, sold by IronMind, is basically the functional version of my previous book analogy. However, the Blockbuster is built to be clipped into a carabiner, which allows you to increase the amount of hanging weight.
The CFF “Pit Bull” Pinch Grip is designed to work your fingers more evenly by using a circular shape. It will have your fingers cramping in ways you’ve never imagined, but the end result will be noticeably stronger fingers. It can also be attached to a carabiner so that you can vary the weight.
A variation on the theme is the Flying Fingers Grab Bag, also by IronMind. The Grab Bag weighs in at 10 lb and is designed to be thrown around and caught while in motion. This is a nice variation of the previous static exercises, and it gives you chance to practice your hand-eye coordination besides your usual routine of shooting video game bad guys in the face.
If you’re the type of person that says to themselves, “Hmm, I really wish I could learn more about hand strength on a deeper and more scholarly level,” then you’re in luck. They’re are several great books available, including “Mastery of Hand Strength” by John Brookfield and “Grip Strength” by Spindler & Heslep.
No matter your age or station in life, you can benefit from having stronger, healthy hands. Now go forth and pinch something!