If you’ve shaken many hands in your time, you probably know that older men typically have very firm handshakes. It turns out that years of hard manual labor give you a much stronger grip than, say, playing with your computer or phone for 8+ hours a day. Which is a shame, because grip strength is extremely useful in everyday life and a common bottleneck for progress in strength training. The good news is that you can “cheat” your way to a strong grip using some newfangled technology that previous generations didn’t have.
Regardless of your gender, a strong grip can come in handy in countless ways, whether you’re carrying groceries, moving furniture, or trying to twist the top off that annoying Snapple bottle. One of the best parts about having a strong grip, in my opinion, is that it is somewhat hidden. Nobody will really know about your grip until they either feel the crush on their puny hand or observe your grip prowess in person.
If years of keyboard warrioring have left your grip feeling a bit weak, a great place to start is the ZoN Hand Grips. These are cheap beginner grips that you can use in your spare time. I bought these long ago, and I’ve been known to break them out during long car trips or while watching TV.
If you feel more comfortable with your grip strength already and you’re in the mood for something more unique, I recommend trying the Gripmaster Pro Edition. The patented spring technology allows you to work each of your fingers separately, so you get to feel just how weak those pinky fingers are. The Gripmaster is also ideal if you’re into sports that involve finger strength such as rock climbing, where the strength of your ring and pinky fingers can make the difference between a successful climb and a fall. (Also a great conversation starter!)
If you think you’ve already got a crushing grip, prepare to be humbled by the Captains of Crush Hand Gripper. IronMind sells these bad boys in a wide variety of strengths, from the Guide level at 60 lb. to the No. 4 grip, which requires a world-class level of 365 lb. to close. I personally started with the Trainer, a 100 lb. grip, which is great for people who already have strong hands.
A rather unique way to work out your hands, and a good complement to any grip exerciser, are the Expand-Your-Hand Bands, also made by IronMind. These bands will have you working your grip in reverse by focusing on the muscles that open your hand. They’re great both for preventing any sort of muscle imbalance and as a quick relief for pain resulting from overuse, such as tennis elbow.
The keys to any grip strengthening regimen, and strength training in general, are consistency and progression. Find an excuse to use these devices, and when it gets too easy, buy something more challenging. You’ll be delivering crushing handshakes before you know it.