Everyone from powerlifters to rock climbers care about their grip strength; luckily, training grip is neither expensive nor difficult. There might be many exercises to improve grip strength, but one fundamental exercise is to squeeze really hard!
Having excellent grip strength is not just crucial for athletes and outdoorsy people – it can be helpful for everyone. Grip allows us to function normally and carry out activities without any problems. People who are suffering from hand grip issues encounter difficulties in doing simple tasks like opening a water bottle, carrying a suitcase or grocery bag, or using a knife to chop vegetables. Anyone may experience problems with grip due to injury, arthritis, and genetics, among others. Losing grip strength can affect the quality of life in many ways.
The good news is there’s something you can do to improve your grip, and it is by using a grip strengthener. In this article, learn the benefits of using a grip strengthener.
What is a Hand Grip Strengthener?
A hand grip strengthener, sometimes called “hand gripper” or simply “gripper,” is a small, handheld device used for testing and increasing the grip strength of the hands.
Grip strength is the force applied by the hand to pull, crush, lift, or carry objects. It’s an essential indicator of your bone health and can be used to diagnose certain health conditions. Therefore, it’s essential to strengthen your grip as you work on your other muscles. There are three significant types of grip strength, namely:
- Crush – This refers to how strong your grip is using your palm and fingers
- Pinch – This refers to how firmly you can hold an object between your thumb and other fingers.
- Support – This refers to how long you can hold on or hang onto something.
- Grip strengtheners can help you improve all these aspects of grip strength, especially the crushing grip.
Grippers vary from brand to brand, but standard grippers come with a torsion spring fitted with two handles. The dimensions vary to accommodate different hand sizes and the materials used to make them. The grippers’ handles are typically made of plastic, wood, steel, or aluminum (sometimes coated with anti-slip rubber for comfort), and the springs are made from various types of steel.
Benefits of a Hand Grip Strengthener
Hand grip strengtheners have been around for a long time and are incredibly helpful at training hand and lower arm strength. If you use it regularly, you will reap all these healthy benefits:
1. Increases muscular endurance
The strength of your grip, wrists, and forearms is a significant indicator of muscular endurance, which is the ability of the muscles to continue performing for an extended period of time. For some people, the grip is the weak link when it comes to endurance-related workouts and activities. So, if you develop strength in your hand and forearms, you can continue doing exercises that involve the upper body for longer periods. This will help you gain stamina in resistance exercises like deadlifts and bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups.
2. Allows you to endure the last few reps in a strength workout
When you are working out with weights to increase strength and muscle size, the last few reps of the last few sets really count. This is where your muscles are working at maximum intensity and stress levels, so you’re pushing them to their maximum potential. However, many people cannot continue up to this critical point of the workout because of weaker grip strength.
Grips strength is the link for you to be able to perform at your best potential in exercises like deadlifts, push-ups, pull-ups, lateral pulldowns, and barbell rows. If you develop your grip strength, you can be able to squeeze out those necessary few reps at the end of your workout.
3. Increases forearm strength
Forearms are crucial in strength training. You need to work on your lower arms to increase overall strength. When you open and close your fingers with the resistance of a grip strengthener, it leads to increased muscle mass in the forearms because the muscles from your fingers to your shoulder are linked. Incorporating grip-strengthening exercises in your workouts can help enhance your performance in sports like golf, tennis, rock climbing, and other activities that require lower arm engagement.
4. Better results from exercise
A significant benefit of using a hand grip strengthener is ensuring that you can gain the best possible results from your workouts. With an increased grip strength, you will be able to do more sets of pull-ups or hold on to a barbell longer, leading to increased muscle growth.
Most people never experience optimal muscle fiber activation during their workouts as their grip strength gives up before their muscles fail. Strong forearms can help improve your strength, which spills over into your workouts in exercises like pull-ups, lateral pulldowns, farmer’s walk, and more.
5. Improves mental health being
Besides physical strength, increased grip strength can also benefit your mental health. Interestingly, grip strength is linked to better mental health. A study reported that people who regularly engaged in grip-strengthening activities improved their ability to plan and visualize their future. Also, they have excellent reaction time and better number memory. The same study also revealed that greater grip strength in people with schizophrenia results in higher levels of mental dexterity and visualization ability.
Another study showed that improved grip strength might eventually lead to improvement in symptoms of depression and mental illness. However, it only improves symptoms and must not be used as a substitute for proper mental health treatment.
6. Releases stress
You can gain stress release and relaxation through the repetitive movement of the fingers and wrists. Fidgeting and keeping yourself busy can help relieve stress and anxiety while improving your motor control. This is why psychologists often prescribe stress balls to help people with stress and anxiety problems. Hand grip strengtheners can be used as an alternative for fidget spinners, stress balls, or cubes. At the same time, you will be increasing the isometric grip strength of your wrists and forearms in the process.
7. Reduces age-related decline
We lose overall strength, mobility, and bone density as we age. Hand exercises, like strengthening the grip along with the wrist and forearms, will allow you to slow down the age-related decline that is seen in many elderly people with weak wrists. Grip-strengthening exercises can also lessen the effects of arthritis.
8. Helps you manage your daily life better
When your grip, forearm, and wrists are strong, you will find it easier to carry out many daily activities. Grip strength is essential for many daily tasks, including lifting, pushing, pulling, and carrying. Your ability to move furniture, carry groceries, hold a child, haul luggage, and use gardening tools will be enhanced when you train your grip strength with grip exercises.
9. Improves dexterity
Dexterity is the ability to manipulate fingers. Some specialized grip strengtheners help improve finger strength, which is beneficial for people who engage in activities like rock climbing, bouldering, playing a musical instrument, typing, bricklaying, gardening, or hairdressing.
10. Eases injury recovery
In the event that you get an injury preventing you from performing your workout, as usual, a hand gripper can help you recover faster. It can be used to rehabilitate an injured arm and help you regain dexterity, strength, and mobility. Most hand grippers allow you to work at different resistance levels, so if you are recovering from an injury, you can start with very light resistance and gradually build it up as you gain back strength.
A hand gripper can also benefit those who are recovering from a tendon surgery, stroke, arthritis, broken wrist, carpal tunnel, and tendonitis.
11. Boosts energy
The great thing about hand grippers is they can help keep you active, even though you’re only working out your hands and wrists. And it’s a handy workout tool, too – you can use it while you are watching TV or reading a book, so you can turn your sedentary time into productive workout time. As a result, you will feel more energetic throughout the day.
12. Helps people with arthritis
Weak grip strength is linked to a higher risk of all-cause mortality among adults. Poor grip is related to age-related decline and lower cognitive ability. From your thirties, your body automatically loses some muscle mass and strength, which indicates aging. This is especially relevant for people with arthritis because they experience a faster decline in grip strength at a younger age. Using a grip strengthener regularly can reduce the pain and impact caused by arthritis.
13. Portable and light
Hand grippers are portable and light, and you can carry them with you wherever you go. Most hand grip strengtheners come with adjustable resistance settings, making them a must-have piece of equipment for both beginners and experienced lifters. Because it’s small, you can bring it to work to squeeze in a training session during your breaks. It allows you to warm your muscles up before a workout or finish your training session with a forearm pump.
How Often Should You Use a Hand Grip Strengthener?
Training your grip daily can help you get stronger and gain more endurance for workouts. When using a low-resistant gripper, you can squeeze and release 50-100 times a day to see visible results. But when you are using a high-resistance gripper, you should use it at most 2-3 times a week to prevent injury. If you misuse a hand grip with high resistance, you might develop conditions like carpal tunnel or hand injury.
Using a hand grip strengthener will give you a stronger grip, increased endurance, lower risk of injury, better mental health, and improved dexterity. Grip is often the weak link in many workouts, so improving in this aspect will help you get the most out of your exercises. These benefits are a good payoff for a few minutes of simple daily exercise.