Grip Strength Training for Martial Arts

When it comes to martial arts training, you might often think about improving your core strength. You may even be more concerned in improving your cardiovascular endurance, so you can last longer during training. But have you ever thought of enhancing your grip strength?

Grip strength is an often overlooked facet of martial arts training. Martial arts practitioners usually train to improve their cardiovascular endurance, flexibility and strength, but not always to boost their grip strength.

But do you realize how much force you need from your wrists to be able to pull off techniques in judo and Brazilian jiu jitsu? Grip strength can also enhance your punching power, and prevent wrist injuries when striking with your hands.

That said, here are some of the basic grip strength exercises that you may want to incorporate in your exercise regimen:

1. Dumbbell Rows with Towel

Before starting this exercise, place a towel around a dumbbell. Then put one of your knees on the bench, while your other foot is on the floor. Bend over to keep your back parallel with the ground.

Reach down and clutch the towel that is wrapped around the dumbbell. Your arm should be extended so that you can reach for the towel, while you keep your other arm locked in placed on the bench.

With your palms facing in, start to lift the towel and the dumbbell to your side. Avoid moving the rest of your body. Lower the towel and dumbbell slowly and repeat. Do six to eight repetitions of three to four sets.

2. Farmer’s Walk

This is another exercise that should be able to improve your grip strength. It can be tough to pull off at first, especially if you use a very heavy weight. As such, it is advised that you start with a low weight until you get used to this exercise.

To do this exercise, take two dumbbells. Grasp them both at your sides, just between the forefinger and dumb. Avoid bending, keeping your back straight all the time. Start to walk while holding the weights.

Three sets of this exercise while holding the dumbbells for at least 20 seconds should be enough. Of course, it is ideal that you do it longer (more than 90 minutes) if you’re using a low weight.

3. Fingertip Push Ups

This is a variation of the typical push up designed to improve grip strength. To perform this exercise, place your fingertips on a push up position. Then do a push up. So instead of having your hands on the floor holding up your body, you’re basically relying on your finger tips to support your entire body weight. Do three to four sets of this exercise.

4. Grippers

Obviously, you need a gripper for this exercise. Grippers aren’t really expensive; you can get one from your local sports equipment store for $10 to $20.

Once you have a gripper, slowly close it in a controlled manner. Hold it for about three to five seconds before opening it slowly. Repeat this as many times possible.

5. Reverse Curls

This not only strengthens your grips, but also works out your forearms. To do this exercise, get a curling bar with an overhand grip. You palms should be facing in toward your body, and your arms must be at around shoulder width.

Stand up straight, keeping your shoulders relaxed. Slowly curl up the barbell towards your chest in a steady, controlled manner. While you do this, keep your elbows and arms in place as there’s a chance your elbows would flail out.

Once your hands hit your chest, squeeze your biceps before slowly lowering the barbell. Do this anywhere from 10 to 15 repetitions for at least three sets.

6. Hex Dumbbell Holds

Hex dumbbells are fixtures in most gyms. To do this exercise, simply grab two hex dumbbells at their ends and hold them for as long as possible. Rest for a minute, then repeat. Pick a weight that you can hold for 30 seconds or more.

7. Plate Pinch

Put together a couple of Olympic weights, with the smooth side out and squeeze them together using your fingers. Hold on for as long as you can.

You can start with 10 pound plates. Try if you have enough power and grip strength to hold four 10 pound plates in each hand. After taking a one minute rest, repeat this exercise for a total of three to four repetitions.

But you may ask—how frequent should you do this exercises? Ideally, you should have grip strength training every other day. The forearms are not considered a major muscle group, so they should be able to recover from a workout after 48 hours. You should also rotate the exercises to keep things fresh, and enable you to go all-out on these workouts. You can also do these exercises towards the end of your workout.

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