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Grip strength 101

If you've been a consumer of my content for a while, you've likely seen me mention the 5 basic movement patterns of resistance training. Number five of the list includes variations of Carry exercises. Examples of Carries are Farmer Carries, Suitcase Carries, etc. Aside from the functionality of these exercises and that they work your core, they also focus on improving your grip strength.

Suitcase carries

Strength in your forearms may seem like a minuscule thing to focus on, but there's a reason for it. A study from 2019 suggests that grip strength serves as a biomarker in overall strength, bone density, mental health, and all-cause and disease-specific mortality. I have my own personal opinions on why this might be: grip strength is likely a sign of someone who strength trains, or at minimum, is doing some type of manual labor regularly. Someone who holds a barbell, dumbbells, and/or kettlebells in their hands on a consistent and progressive basis will likely develop more grip strength over time. As we know, resistance training has several health benefits, including longevity. Based on this knowledge, I think it's safe to say grip strength could be a reliable biomarker.


In addition to the biomarkers listed above, grip strength comes in handy for when you're carrying in groceries, carrying your child in a carrier, hauling your suitcase that doesn't have wheels (why do duffle bags still exist?!), etc. More specific to resistance training, grip strength is involved in various exercises such as Deadlifts, RDLs, Pull-Ups, Rows, etc. Grip strength can often be a limiting factor when it comes to increasing weight on these exercises. So, how do we increase grip strength?


Grip strength 101:

1. Keep doing the Deadlifts, RDLs, Pull-Ups, Rows, etc. Use lifting straps as needed if the goal of doing those exercises is to increase strength and/or muscle within those movements, but continue to prioritize working on your grip strength within these exercises, as well.

2. Incorporate Farmer Carries and/or Suitcase Carries into your program. I like to toss these in either right at the beginning or end of a workout.

3. Add Bar Hangs to your program. You can do this by starting with 1-5 seconds. As it becomes easier, continue to add on an additional 1-5 seconds with each session or as you progress.


It's important to note that just because a study says grip strength could be telling of someones longevity, it doesn't mean we need to only focus on all things grip strength. Squats, Hinges, Rows, Pull-Ups, Chest Presses, Overhead Presses, and Rotational exercises are equally as important in a well-rounded resistance training program. Learn more about KATHLETICS 1:1 online training.


Katharine Moustakes
Hey, friend!

I'm Katharine.

I'm a personal trainer, running coaching, and nutrition coach who's stoked about lifting, the outdoors, summit snacks, and my dog.


I understand that fitness is not your whole life. Fitness is a PART of your life. I approach training in a way that adds value to your life and longevity, so you can enjoy being active whether you're romping around in the mountains, playing with your kids, or signing up for your first 10K race.

I'm here to meet you where you are, so you can train safely and effectively, and gain strength and confidence both in the gym and on the trails.

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