Best Hand Grippers and Strengtheners to Develop a Grip of Steel
Muscle group work outs are really popular; from body builders to gym enthusiasts, you will find people who divide their workouts based on which muscle group they want to target - something like this:
- Day One: Chest/Triceps
- Day Two: Legs/Abs
- Day Three: Back/Biceps
While I could lament for days on this being why it is so hard to find an open bench on Mondays, I’m actually here to talk about the most underrated and neglected workout - one that will dramatically improve the quality of all other workouts.
Any guesses for what that could be?
I’m betting you guessed grip strength workouts (since that is the title of this article and all!). But in all seriousness, spending some time working on hand grip and forearm strength is a must for those who want to see their strength and one-rep maxes improve.
Aside from obviously improving your workouts, why is it important to focus on grip strength? You will be surprised to learn how crucial it actually is...
Top 3 Hand Grip Benefits
- Pain management and injury prevention
From athletes to office workers, people use their hands in pretty much everything they do. And for every occupation, I guarantee you have heard of an accompanying injury associated with the hands/wrists/ forearms.
This is a result of not only chronic and repetitive use, but also from a discrepancy in the strength ratio from forearms to upper arms.
When the upper arm is stronger than the forearm, it causes the elbow and wrist joints to compensate. This looks like carpal tunnel syndrome for office workers and tennis/golfers elbow for athletes. For gym enthusiasts, it means that not only can joints be affected, but so can isolated smaller muscles - like biceps and rotator cuffs.
In fact, you can do more harm than good if you’re doing repetitive bicep curls without utilizing grip strength and ensuring the forearms are engaged. Strengthening the forearms helps prevent these pesky injuries as well as assist in pain that has already set in.
- Improve overall strength
Charles Poloquin is one of my personal mentors for all things fitness; his deep understanding of anatomy and movement make him a go-to when it comes to exercise science. He is quoted as saying...
“When your grip strength improves, less neural drive is needed for the forearm and hand muscles to perform other exercises. That is why many trainees report breaking training plateaus in a host of lifts, ranging from dead lifts to curls, after doing a grip specialization routine.”
That’s right; your central nervous system performs completely differently (and more efficiently) when you have optimal grip strength.
- Increase muscular endurance
When you improve your forearm and hand strength, inevitably you will be able to perform more repetitions for whatever it is you like to do.
Many lifters have learned that their large muscle groups are not the problem; it’s actually a fatigue in the grip that holds them back. Training the muscle groups responsible for grip allows greater conditioning overall, and hey, you will probably be able to lift heavier things.
Best Hand Grippers and Forearm Strengtheners
There are many theories, workouts, and products available to improve grip strength. Some trainers swear by using larger, wider bars for bench pressing, for example.
Other trainers like to simply have their clients hang from the pull-up bar at various intervals. I like focused, specialized training, so I’m into using products that are specifically created to improve hand and forearm strength.
Here are the best ones out there for improving grip strength in record time!
Featuring billet aluminum and alloy steel construction, the Captains of Crush grip strengthener looks a lot like a clip that you add to the end of your barbell.
Alas, the look is the only commonality, as this small tool packs a load of resistance that will tire out your hand and forearm pretty quickly. It is portable and can be kept at your desk to get in quick sets while you are taking a break from work.
It is available in 11 different strengths ranging from 60lbs of resistance all the way up to 365lbs so there is a resistance level for the most basic beginner or the long-time gym rat.
Thanks to its whopping resistance loads, this is the best hand gripper for weight training goals, as it was created with weight lifters in mind.
The GripMaster is an extremely personalized experience, as it is available in many different levels. It was initially created to help improve performance of musicians, rock climbers, and golfers, but it is suitable for those who are in rehabilitation and physical therapy, as well as those who want to get fitness gains, too.
What is so unique about this tool is that it provides a workout for each finger, your whole hand, and wrist. The various levels are set up in a color-coded, resistance based system, as follows:
- Yellow = 3 pounds per finger
- Blue = 5 pounds per finger
- Red = 7 pounds per finger
- Black = 9 pounds per finger
This resistance is not as strenuous as Captains of Crush, so if you already have a decent foundational grip strength, you might want to go with another option. On the other hand, if you're looking for a solid hand strengthener to help you rehabilitate from hand injuries - this one is perfect!
The most intuitively designed tool, The GD Grip Ultra 70 is a top quality, adjustable hand gripper that was initially developed for professional athletes but can be used even by beginners.
The resistance levels are super versatile, as they can be adjusted between 44 to 154 pounds. Additionally, its handle width is adjustable between 45 to 85mm, so these combinations account for 17 various levels that the user can choose from.
This tool contains a highly durable advanced die spring, which reduces the chances of the spring being stretched and deformed, and therefore increases the life of the product.
What’s most interesting and unique about this product is described in the product description; it is “constructed with a four-link structure that operates in parallel with the handles. This enables natural operation, coinciding with the movement direction of the fingers, with fixed pressure corresponding to each finger. This enables even muscle development for the entire hand and from the wrist to the elbow.”
Overall, this grip tool is amongst the most versatile options, and it is a great choice for a one-time investment because of its many resistance levels.
The FingerMaster is another awesome option for those recovering from injury, seeking individual finger strengthening, or working toward general improved grip strength.
It is versatile, as it is designed with five individual finger pistons, ranging from 3-8.5 pounds, that can be independently manipulated or locked into place to meet individual needs and specifications. In turn, this allows for more variety in hand and finger exercises, along with a more customizable program.
Whereas its competitors are typically designed with alloy steel or hard plastic, this hand-strengthening tool is created from soft, malleable rubber that allows for extra comfort, and its core is made from a high-quality copper to ensure durability.
The manufacturers also have a high reputation for top-notch customer service, and they offer a 100% product satisfaction guarantee. This means you don’t have to worry about wasting your money, which is always nice when getting new gear!
This brand offers a few different models but let's focus on the two most relevant for grip strength, shall we?
The Sidewinder Pro: The most sleekly designed and therefore compact and portable grip gadget, the Sidewinder Pro is a great tool for beginners to intermediate athletes to use.
Resistance is completely adjustable with a calibrated tension knob, and it’s crafted from solid parts that include steel tubing, machined aluminum, and neoprene handles.
The grip handle is 1.5 inches in diameter, so it is a bit smaller than its upgrade, the Sidewinder Pro Extreme. This brand also offers a convenient lifetime warranty, which makes up for it being a bit on the pricier side. Read customer reviews!
The Sidewinder Pro Extreme: Coming in at a thick two inch diameter, the Pro Extreme model is an excellent choice for those who are pursuing thick bar training. The key difference between this version and the regular Pro (reviewed above) is the diameter, as they are manufactured with the same quality materials and boast a lifetime warranty.
If you want some hard numbers, consider this: the Pro Exteme comes equipped with a tension spring spec. of 380 lbs. and roller bearings that can support 2000 pounds! That is some serious resistance, so hardcore athletes take note: this is the tool for you! Read customer reviews!
How to Use a Hand Grip Strengthener
Now that you have a few options to choose from, let’s talk about how to get started with your grip strength training. A good general rule is to start with one set of ten repetitions at a resistance that feels challenging but not impossible.
Later that same afternoon, do another set of ten repetitions. Repeat that twice during your first week, and then continue to increase your resistance and your repetitions, eventually working up to three sets of ten repetitions every single day.
Don’t forget to warm up and use varying resistance during those sets. Here’s my recommendation:
- Warm-Up Grip Resistance x4 (These are fairly easy repetitions and are warming up the hands.)
- Working Grip Resistance x4 (This should feel challenging but manageable)
- Challenger (Goal) Grip Resistance x2 (You shouldn’t be able to close this one.)
This program will get you started on your path to optimal grip, and you will see the benefits within a few short weeks. Good luck and don't forget to ease up when greeting new business associates and friends!