Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Get a Grip!

I hope you are all enjoying the last few weeks of training๐Ÿ˜… I can’t believe that The Beast is only a little over a month away!! Here’s something you may not have taken into consideration when doing your day-to-day training… grip strength! Well, I’m here to help you get a hand(le) on the situation -- pun intended! Why is grip strength so important? Well, during this lovely 10 mile race, you will be pulling, pushing, and lifting yourself and others throughout each obstacle.

Having a decent grip will make these movements and obstacles easier for you to accomplish!
There are several ways to improve grip strength that require very little effort and are beneficial to different aspects of fitness and health! Grip strength has been correlated to longevity. Not only is it important for The Beast on the Bay, but it can be useful throughout your life and daily activities.

The pull-up is an overall strength builder if you utilize a full grip while keeping your thumbs tucked under and all four fingers over the bar. If you cannot perform a pull-up, the hang is another alternative. The hang is one the most beneficial exercises for grip. Whether you have a gym membership or not, the hang can be performed almost anywhere or anytime. If you don’t have access to a pull machine or TRX apparatus, the hang can be performed outdoors on a tree branch! What you do is grab the surface as if you are about to perform a pull-up; arms extended overhead, palms facing  away from you, and a tight grip on the branch, pole, or pull-up machine.

When setting up your positioning, your legs should be straight beneath your body and feet should be off the ground by 6-12 inches. While performing this movement, make sure to pull your stomach muscles in and keep them tight to protect your lower back. Hang for about 15-60 seconds at a time for 3-5 sets of this. If you do the hang after every workout, you will see some major benefits to you upper body and overall grip strength.

Another technique used to improve grip strength is the carry. This is a really easy exercise to perform! If you have access to a gym, you can use dumbbells, kettlebells or barbells. Basically, you hold said items in both hands one on either side and walk for 1-5 mins at a time. Note that the weight should be challenging but not overwhelming. A variation is to hold a dumbbell on one side of the body this will cause your core to be involved a little more in the movement and is a great added challenge. You can perform this for 2 or 3 sets. This should be done towards the end of your workout for obvious reasons. You don’t want your hands to be exhausted when you try to press something overhead!

In addition to the hang and the carry, the pinch grip is a great exercise that involves a lot of thumb strength. In order to perform the pinch, you must hold two weight plates together in one hand with their flat surfaces facing out. Start with two 5 or 10 pound plates and work your way up. Hold as long as you can and repeat at least 3 times.

The hang, the carry, and the pinch are just a few of the techniques necessary to improve grip strength, there are many ways this can be done. Most importantly though, when you are exercising or throughout your day, using a full grip will help as well! I hope you all get a grip and start using these techniques in your training. They will be important come the day of The Beast… believe me, you’re going to want to hold on tight!

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