What is the number one thing to fail on pull ups and dead lifts? It is hand strength. Train the weakest link and improve your lifts. Check out these tips to increase grip strength and start crushing workouts.
Tip # 1: Deadlift
This is one lift that will really expose your weakness on the grip strength. Train the deadlift with both hands facing towards yourself while holding the barbell.
Use a thicker axle bar if you have one. Don’t use chalk. This will force you to use your grip strength more and not rely on outside help. Go heavy and hold the weight at the top of the lift and count your hang time.
Use a rubber grip like a Grip4orce Trainer to make the bar larger and harder to hold on to.
Another option is to use a larger diameter bar—PVC pipe or an axle. The larger the bar the more your grip will be taxed. You will see your grip strength increase just by using this one tip.
QUESTION: I have been working hard to improve my chin ups. Will that improve my grip strength?
ANSWER: Any type of workout on a bar will help build up your grip.
Tip #2: Variety of pull ups
Mix up your pull ups with a wide variety to include regular pull ups, chin ups, wide pull ups, mountain climbers, and towel pull ups.
Also try to do your pull ups on different sized bars (the bigger the better).
Try to find an I-beam or 4×4 piece of wood and hang from those. Your bar doesn’t have to be round.
One of the hardest workouts I have done is 100 pull ups for time on a 4×4 running parallel. My grip was maxed out. For Towel pull ups – I spoke with Torrie Griffin who played offensive lineman for the Tennessee Titans in 2001 and he explained that the coaches were very interested in building grip strength and one of their methods was to do towel pull-ups.
As you can imagine, a strong grip translates heavily to football in that you can hold on to a player tighter and move them wherever you want. Towel pull ups are one of many tips to increase grip strength.
QUESTION: Can using a bar larger in diameter help you gain strength for pull-ups?
ANSWER: Yes; your grip will get stronger using a larger diameter bar.
Tip #3: Fat bar pull ups
An old rock climber tip is to do your pull ups on a 4 inch pipe. This is incredibly hard but it forces your hand to stay open and work all of your grip strength. The pull up bar in Navy SEAL training at BUD/S is 2 inches in diameter. Larger than the normal playground pull up bar. If you want to increase your grip strength to train on a pull up bar like this you need to do pull ups on a fat bar.
Grip Strength workout #1
50 meter farmers walk (you pick the weight but go heavy)
15 pull up (use a fat 2 inch bar)
50 meter sled drags using a fat rope (you pick the weight)
QUESTION: I am trying out for the Navy SEALs. are deadlifts good for navy seal training?
ANSWER: The dead lift will give you good grip strength and build core strength. Try the dead lift with an axle bar or heavy sand bag.
Tip #4: Farmer’s Walk
Using heavy dumbbells or kettle bells just walk with the heavy weights.
You can also use smaller dumbbells and use a Fat Gripz to make the weight harder to hold which will build your forearms.
QUESTION: Will the Navy SEAL grinder pull ups Ebook help my grip?
ANSWER: Yes, check it out here.
Tip #5: Rock Climber’s Hangboard
A climbing hang board can be a killer way to stretch out the hands and build up your hand strength.
Make sure you go easy when starting out on a hang board and don’t use holds that are too small.
Limit you time to a few hangs and don’t add weight unless you are an advanced climber.
QUESTION: Should I use fat grips or a fat bar to train for BUDS?
ANSWER: Yes, as you will use a fat bar for pull up training when you get to the grinder at BUDS Navy SEAL training.
TIP #6: Sandbag Workouts
Sand bags are awkward and hard to hold which make them great for building grip strength. Pick them up, carry them and feel the burn.
You can easily make a sandbag with a plastic bag and some duck tape. You can also you an old ruck sack (military back pack). Or you can spend $75 and buy a custom bag that will last a long time.
QUESTION: How much does grip strength improve pull-ups?
ANSWER: Often it is your hands that fail first on pull ups so your grip is important.
Steven Farmer climbers hangboard workout
Warmup fully for 5 minutes — then…
hang on half finger pad to near failure
6 to 8 seconds
5 pull ups on fat bar
3 minute rest is sit-ups 20 reps pushups 20 reps
do 5 full laps
then go to full finger pad
hang 6 to 8 seconds
5 pull ups on fat bar
3 minute rest with 15 sit-ups and 15 pushups
3 full laps
drink lots of water after this workout
Tip #7: Tennis ball / cannonball Grip
Hold on to these tennis ball shaped balls and do pull ups or just hang. They are also called “cannon balls“. If you don’t have the cannon ball you can make one by drilling out a baseball and running a wire rope or webbing through it.
These help you to create strength in your fingers, wrists, forearms and upper arms. The grip helps pinpoint weaker areas for grip strength. The more variety you create in how you pull yourself up, in both form and grip, the better your overall pull-up functioning becomes.
Tip# 8: Wrist rolls or wrist curls
Simple rolls of the wrist on a PVC pipe or broomstick tied to a weight will quickly burn your forearms for an incredible pump. You can hold the pipe at your waist or hold it out in front of your shoulders.
Start with a light weight and roll up the pipe. Then slowly lower it back down in an eccentric motion. You will feel the burn right off the bat. Add more weight as your grip strength allows. You dont have to use much weight on this exercise. Maybe 5 or 10 pounds. Check out the video below.
Tip #9: Finger Tip Pushups
As simple as it sounds it is very hard and will build your fingers like mad. You can start out with your hands in a bucket of sand to support your hands. As you get stronger you can slowly take sand more sand out of the bucket. Just putting you hands in sand and doing pushups will build your overall hand strength.
Grip Workout #3
10 minute as many rounds as possible
10 pull ups on fat bar
farmers walk 200 meters with 45 lb dumbells
Tip #10: Hand Grippers
Check out hand grippers like the Captains of Crush Hand Gripper – use the C of C’s to build superman hand strength.
The CFF Pitbull Gripper is also a good way to build bone crushing grip strength.
There are also bands that you can use in the opposite manner to expand your fingers and build strength.
TIP #11 Rubber Bands
Take the strong rubber bands off the broccoli that you get in the vegetable section.
Put that band around your fingers.
Now open you hand against the band. Close your hand and repeat.
If you find that one band is too easy then add another band. You can also check out Expand-Your-Hand Bands 10 Pack.
Questions from our athletes:
QUESTION: My buddies and I want to start a CrossFit gym out of local garage. How can I find out more info on CrossFit?
ANSWER: Check out the CF main website here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brad McLeod is married with two kids and an all around average family guy. His SGPT audios have been downloaded in 27 countries around the world. He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida and despite training all the wrong ways he made it to Navy SEAL training in Coronado, California.
He flunked out of Navy SEAL BUD/S training after making it over half way through (6 months of grueling training). After a year in the Fleet Navy on a ship, he came back to graduate and serve on SEAL Team Four. His story is simple: Don’t ever quit on your dream! Put one foot in front of the other and fall forward.
Proceeds from this website go to help raise funds for the Navy SEAL Foundation on CrowdRise.