6 Best Grip Strength Exercises (That Actually Work)

If you can’t grip it, you won’t be able lift it.

Having a strong grip can boost your gains in the weight room, help you climb for longer and give you a powerful handshake.

The forearm, wrist, and hand strength are all essential to both lifting power and stamina,

Here, we give you some of the best and most effective grip strength exercises that are sure to help you improve your hand grip by improving the strength of all the muscles involved.

6 Best Grip Strength Exercises

Try these 8 exercises to improve grip strength. (Plus, these moves will help boost your other gym lift numbers too.)

1. Dumbbell Head Grab

In the dumbbell head grab, all you have to do is stand a dumbbell on its end and pick it up by its head. Sounds super easy? Well, it is, but be careful you don’t end up straining or over-stretching your thumb by either using a dumbbell that’s too big or holding it for too long. 30 seconds should do and if you feel like that’s a piece of cake, try a heavier dumbbell.

2. Plate Curls

Plate curls are great because they end up working your wrist, lower arm and overall hand strength without stressing the rest of your body too much. The exercise involves pinching a plate with your hand (with your palm facing up) and performing curls with it. If you’ve reached a level where one plate isn’t enough, try using more plates of the same weight or heavier plates instead. To improve your forearm strength, curl using only your wrist, as opposed to your entire forearm. However, whichever motion you choose to do, ensure you’re doing it in a controlled manner. Aim for at least 10 repetitions.

3. Plate Pinches

As explained before, plate pinches are a great exercise, going a long way in helping improve your grip strength. Grab a pair of plates and put them together so that their smooth sides are facing out. Pick these plates up together while pinching them with your thumb and fingers. Ideally, try to achieve this with one hand, but if you’re just starting out, both hands are better than none! Aim to hold for at least 30 seconds, all the while telling yourself that there exist super-beings who can hold 45-pound plates with one hand for far longer. As you get the hang of it and slowly improve, go for heavier plates and a single hand. You can also try thick bumper plates.

For an additional thigh and glute workout, stand the plates up and squat to pick them up and put them back down. Beginners can try using a 10-pound or 25-pound plate, doing at least 10 repetitions with each hand.

4. Farmer’s Walk

Very aptly named (in tribute to how farmers carry their bales of hay), the farmer’s walk is probably the easiest exercise on this list. All you have to do is grab a pair of dumbbells that you find heavy (ideally 30-50 pounds in each hand for men and 20-30 pounds in each hand for women) and walk around or stand in place for at least 30 seconds. Make sure your hands are hanging at your sides with your palms facing each other. Shoulders should be back and head looking straight ahead. If you choose to walk, do at least 3 or 4 trips from your starting point to a 30-yard distance.

5. Barbell Finger Rolls

With a huge fan following among rock climbers, barbell finger rolls involve holding a barbell at your fingertips and squeezing and crushing as much as possible. You can either use an empty bar or add weights to the ends. Aim for at least 10 repetitions.

6. Towel Chin-Ups

As if regular chin-ups weren’t challenging enough (at least for us normal mortals), someone somewhere came up with the brilliant idea of using gym towels to do chin-ups. Luckily (or unluckily), these chin-ups are one of the best ways to improve your grip strength. They may also be the hardest on this list, but hey! No pain, no gain, yeah? Grab a pair of towels, throw them over the bar and try to do chin-ups. We guarantee that you’ll find very few exercises that challenge your grip more or improve it more, especially if you’re looking to rope climb. If you find that chin-up is way above your reach (literally and figuratively), just hang on to the bar using the towels for as long as possible.