Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I've been bad about blogging lately. But, fortunately, I've been good about working out. So all is not lost.

Also, reading over some posts, I think I need to change my "voice" on this blog. I'm coming off as if I'm trying to be an expert or an authority here, which I'm not. I'm a guy who loves lifting and wants to write about stuff I learn or find interesting while doing it. So I'll stick to that.

Anyhoozle, Nick at Beyond Strong recently posted a couple of videos of interviews with strongmen Andrus Murumets and Zydrunas Savickas. The interviews are great.

One thing I found to be interesting was Andrus' statement that he trained his grip by hanging from a thick bar for as long as he could. This seems brilliantly simple. Grip is one place where static strength and muscular endurance is hugely useful, and this is a simple, straight-forward way to develop that.

So I decided to implement it at the gym today. Since I train at a typical commercial gym, there are no fat bars in the gym. In fact, there's only one true pull-up bar. But I improvised a thicker bar by taking the neck pad that some folks (who I like to call "pansies") use for squats and put it over the pull-up bar.

I think it worked very well. I did sets of hanging for about 45 seconds, and my forearms were definitely working hard. The pad makes the exercise harder by increasing the diameter of the bar, and I think the fact that the pad is soft and can spin around the bar if you end up inadvertently twisting adds to the difficulty, as well. The best part was that it gave people another reason to give me those "what the hell?" looks I have come to know and love.

Grip strength is useful for everything from deadlifts to pullups to holding grocery bags and, if you're male, the all-important handshake intimidation ritual. It's also something to which I've never really devoted enough attention to, so I'll be doing these hangs and some gripper work a couple of times a week.


Charlotte said...

Yay, you're back!! For the record, i didn't think you sounded all expert-y. You just obviously know your stuff.

I'm officially a wuss - I use the padded roll thingy. Or my towel. Ah well.

Have you ever tried those grip strengthener tools? I used to use them a lot when I rock climbed more and they really did make a difference in forearm strength. Your way sounds fun too though! I love what-the-hell looks:)

Anne Keckler, Personal Trainer said...

Have you considered Farmers Walks for improving grip strength?

Lucas said...

@ Charlotte: Thanks! It's good to be back. And you're not a wuss for using the pad, though I would encourage you to give it a try without. You'll have more control over the bar.

And I actually own 2 of the grippers to which you refer. I use them a couple of times a week, and I think they're useful for building grip strength. But after watching the video, it occurs to me that just holding something thick & heavy for a long time is probably a better functional way to train the grip.

@ Anne: I've done farmer's walks before, though never as a regular part of my training. They're great for grip, shoulders, "core", legs, and general conditioning, and I should probably be doing them more often. I think the hangs are better for my grip for now, though, because I can make the pull-up bar thicker (with the squat pad), but I can't think of any handy way to make the dumbbell handles thicker. Any ideas?