Measuring Grip Strength
Grip strength may be the one of the most underrated elements of resistance training. It’s always, “What do you bench?" "How much can you deadlift?" "How many reps of xyz can you do?" "How fast did you do that?" "How far did you go?” Never has anybody asked me what my dynamometer score was.
Considering grip strength is so integral to performance, why aren’t we paying more attention to it? Sure we KNOW it's important; but are we training it systematically, or is grip strength just a by-product of all the work we are doing? Are we eschewing grip strength in exchange for comfort? Are we over-using tools like straps? Could your overall performance be improved by a better, stronger grip?
Seriously though, with so much of your training requiring you to HOLD ON, what do you really know about GRIP?
take and keep a firm hold of; grasp tightly.
maintain a firm contact, especially by friction.
(of a feeling or emotion) deeply affect (someone).
"she was gripped by a feeling of excitement"
compel the attention or interest of.
We can save our feelings for later, so let’s just talk about the first definition. For our purposes, when referring to “grip strength” we are referring to one of the 3 major gripping types:
How do we grip?
There are 3 muscles in the forearm and 7 muscles in the hand that comprise our gripping ability. In the forearm we have the flexor digitorum superficialis, flexor digitorum profondus, and the flexor policus longus. All of these originate up between the elbow, ulna, and radius and insert down into the phalanges (fingers). In the Hand we have Opponens Pollicis, the Flexor Pollicis Brevis, and the Adductor Pollicis make up the connections to our thumb, while the Flexor Digiti Minimi Brevis, Opponens Digiti Minimi, Palmar Interossei, and First Dorsal Interossei connect to the rest of the fingers. When we go to hold on to something we are gripping, grasping, or flexing, the fingers and the aforementioned muscles are innervated into flexion and cause the phalanges to bend towards the palm.
Blah blah blah, science anatomy, blah blah.
What we really want to know is…how strong is a strong grip, and how do YOU stack up?!
Typically when referring to grip strength, we are referring to maximum crush grip strength (how hard can you squeeze). This is where we get to assert our dominance over poor unsuspecting handshake greeters. Crush grip is the ultimate power move and easiest to measure so find yourself a dynamometer and start squeezing!
Advanced and professional grippers will already have an idea where they are at, as one of the primary training tools for crush grip is the Captains of Crush Hand Gripper, which is scaled to increasing level of difficulties. The dynamometer linked above only measures up to 90kg whereas the COC grippers range all the way up to a whopping 165kg!! That’s some serious crushing power!
A quick sampling in the gym found some decently strong dudes, with a max of 83kg and a strong female pull of 44kg. So, is your grip game strong?