If I shook your hand (even though we can’t do that anymore these days), would I experience an unshakeable grasp or a limp-wrist effort to hold on?
Today, we are talking about grip strength. Grip strength is a weird fringe subject that does not get as much attention as it should. You may only hear about it when people are talking about deadlifting and needing straps to help them hold the bar. However, grip strength is way more important than you think and the benefits of having a strong grip extend WAY beyond making a good impression when you shake someone’s hand.
Get A Grip…
To get an idea of where we stand, this study compared the average grip strength of people ages 20-34 from 1985 to when the study was completed in 2016. They found that the grip strength of the men had decreased by 20 lbs in the right hand and 6 lbs in the left. Women posted losses too of about 10 for both hands.
Why am I talking about this? How could my hand strength possibly affect me in my day-to-day life apart from shaking someone’s hand or impressing my significant other by opening the pickle jar?
The answer, in short: in many ways.
In 2015, Howard LeWine, M.D., who is the chief medical editor at Harvard Health Publishing, reported on a very interesting study (here) done in July of 2015. To date, it is the largest study ever to make a solid connection between grip strength and health-related risks. The study was done across 17 countries, included 140,000 people, and their results were tracked for an average of 4 years.
What did they do? They measured grip strength with a device called a dynamometer and measured their risk for heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.
According to their findings: “Each 11-pound decrease in grip strength over the course of the study was linked to a 16% higher risk of dying from any cause, a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, a 9% higher risk of stroke, and a 7% higher risk of a heart attack.”
The results remained strong even after the study was adjusted for age, smoking, exercise, and other factors that correlate with heart disease or death.
What Can You Do??
So, that is obviously not good and we should fix that. “But how?!” might you say? Well, for $50 or less, you can start your journey to improving your grip strength and helping to decrease your risk of the aforementioned calamities.
I want to mention that I am not getting paid for what I am about to say nor am I affiliated with the company; I simply love their products and want the world to know about them.
The products I use are the Captains of Crush grippers by IronMind and the Extensor Bands by IronMind. IronMind makes seriously impressive products that are very durable and of incredible value for the price you pay.
The grippers are so popular and durable that they are a staple training aide for the giants in the World’s Strongest Man competition. If these men who deadlift over 1,000 lbs say they are effective, they are effective.
The grippers range from 60 lbs of resistance all the way up to a mind-boggling 365 lbs. Yes, you read that right, 365 lbs (currently, only a few people in the world can close it).
The gripper you should start with will be based on your age and weight, but here is what I would recommend:
- If you are over the age of 18 and you have experience with lifting or sports involving your hands, start with the 80 or 100 lbs gripper
- If you are under 18, start with the 60 lbs gripper
- If you are a seasoned lifter who can deadlift over 300 without straps to aid your grip, start with the 120-140 lbs grippers
- If you are a senior (65+) or have joint pain in your wrists, I actually recommend using these friendlier options
I use my grippers every day. So much that my girlfriend will tell you I am a little obsessed with it (we know why now!). If you wanted to use them in a more organized manner, start with three times a week doing three sets of however many you can do. Once you can do 10 repetitions straight, it is time to move on to the next level.
The benefits of grip strength are massive, but they do not stop at shaking someone’s hand or limiting the risk of cardiovascular disease. Grip strength is massively important for any athlete that uses their hands in their sport. If you play hockey, tennis, lacrosse, basketball, baseball, golf, or football, having strong grip strength will help you excel and achieve new heights in your sport AND protect you from hand and forearm injuries like tennis elbow.
Please give this post a share if you found it interesting or enlightening! I think this is information that the world should know about and is something so easy to fix (you can literally do these exercises anywhere) that there is no excuse for starting right away!