One sunshiny day you’re out walking your dog, and she sees a squirrel. With a quick jolt she’s off and running with her leash trailing behind her. Now, you’ve got to run after her. Hey, a bonus workout! A fun lesson in spontaneity! Or poor grip strength? Many things, from holding your dog’s leash to opening jars, making a great first impression with a firm hand shake to lifting more weight at the gym (i.e. more calories burned), are affected by grip strength. Even pain in your wrists and hands can be alleviated with improved grip strength. What has slipped through your fingers lately that you hope doesn’t happen again?
Here’s your at-home plan for how you can strengthen those forearms, hands, and fingers. All of these exercises can be done with items you find around the house (feel free to get creative as needed).
- Rubber band finger extensions: wrap a rubber band around your fingers and spread them out, then bring them back together. Repeat until your fingers get tired, then switch hands (creative alternative: ponytail holders).
- Ball squeeze: use a rubber ball, tennis ball, or something similar to squeeze and release until your forearm gets tired, then switch hands.
- Jar twists: use an empty jar with a screw-on lid and tighten the lid as far as you can, then twist until you get the lid off. Repeat with the hands in opposite positions (bottom of jar versus lid). Pictured at top.
- Fingertip pushups: just like regular pushups but with only your finger and thumb tips touching the ground. Do as many as you can until fatigue, modify by lowering your knees.
- Wrist curls and extensions: use a small weight or a water bottle. Holding your weight in one hand palm up, brace your elbow so the forearm remains still as you curl the weight toward your wrist and release it back down. Repeat with the other hand. Then, hold the weight with the palm down and lift the back of your hand as far as you can before slowly releasing it back down.
- Wide-grip holds: find something that has some heft to it and it wider than your palm (get creative; I use a wide-mouth can), hold it until you can’t anymore, then switch hands, or do both at the same time if you have two similar items.
- Farmer carries with side grip: find one or two items to hold in a thumb to forefinger grip (textbooks work well, as do weight plates if you happen to be at the gym or have weight plates at home). Hold your item with a firm grip so it doesn’t slip down and walk around as long as you can hold the grip. *If you are only holding one, make sure to stand tall and not lean to the opposite side = great core workout bonus.
Give these exercises a try two-three non-consecutive days each week and show those jars who is the boss, reign in that cute dog of yours, reduce wrist pain, and much more! Comment below with your results: what’s your most noticeable benefit from improved grip strength?