Grip strength
Grip strength is the force
In physics, a force is any influence that causes an object to undergo a change in speed, a change in direction, or a change in shape. In other words, a force is that which can cause an object with mass to change its velocity , i.e., to accelerate, or which can cause a flexible object to deform...

 applied by the hand to pull on or suspend from objects and is a specific part of hand strength
Hand strength
Hand strength measurements are of interest to study pathology of the hand that involves loss of muscle strength. Examples of these pathologies are carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve injury, tendon injuries of the hand, and neuromuscular disorders....

. Optimum-sized objects permit the hand to wrap around a cylindrical shape with a diameter from one to three inches. Stair rails are an example of where shape and diameter are critical for proper grip in case of a fall. Other grip strengths that have been studied are the hammer and other hand tools. In applications of grip strength, the wrist must be in a neutral position to avoid developing cumulative trauma disorders (CTD's).

Grip strength is a general term also used by strength
Physical strength
Physical strength is the ability of a person or animal to exert force on physical objects using muscles. Increasing physical strength is the goal of strength training.-Overview:...

 athletes, referring to the muscular power and force that they can generate with their hand
A hand is a prehensile, multi-fingered extremity located at the end of an arm or forelimb of primates such as humans, chimpanzees, monkeys, and lemurs...

s. In athletics, it is critical for rock climbers and in competitions such as the World's Strongest Man
World's Strongest Man
The World's Strongest Man is a well recognised event in strength athletics and has been described by a number of highly respected authorities in the sport as the premier event in strongman. Organized by TWI, an IMG Media company, it is broadcast around the end of December each year...

. Grip strength training
The term training refers to the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies. It forms the core of apprenticeships and provides the backbone of content at institutes of...

 is also a major feature in martial arts
Martial arts
Martial arts are extensive systems of codified practices and traditions of combat, practiced for a variety of reasons, including self-defense, competition, physical health and fitness, as well as mental and spiritual development....

, and can be useful in various professions where people must work with their hands.

Types of grip

The hand is an amazing human instrument, and can be used to grip objects in several ways. These different ways, and different types of grip strength, are typically quantified based on the way the hand is being used.

The crush grip is what is most commonly thought of as "grip". It involves a handshake
A handshake is a short ritual in which two people grasp one of each other's like hands, in most cases accompanied by a brief up and down movement of the grasped hands.-History:...

-type grip, where the object being gripped rests firmly against the palm
A hand is a prehensile, multi-fingered extremity located at the end of an arm or forelimb of primates such as humans, chimpanzees, monkeys, and lemurs...

 and all finger
A finger is a limb of the human body and a type of digit, an organ of manipulation and sensation found in the hands of humans and other primates....

s. A strong crush grip is useful in bone-crushing handshakes or for breaking objects with pressure
Pressure is the force per unit area applied in a direction perpendicular to the surface of an object. Gauge pressure is the pressure relative to the local atmospheric or ambient pressure.- Definition :...


In a pinch grip, the finger
A finger is a limb of the human body and a type of digit, an organ of manipulation and sensation found in the hands of humans and other primates....

s are on one side of an object, and the thumb
The thumb is the first digit of the hand. When a person is standing in the medical anatomical position , the thumb is the lateral-most digit...

 is on the other. Typically, an object lifted in a pinch grip does not touch the palm. This is generally considered a weaker grip position. The pinch grip is used when grabbing something like a weight plate or lifting a sheet of plywood by the top edge.

A support grip typically involves holding something, such as the handle of a bucket, for a long time. This type of strength is epitomized by the "Farmer's walk", where the bucket is filled with sand
Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles.The composition of sand is highly variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal...

 or water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

, and carried over a long distance. A great deal of muscular endurance
Endurance is the ability for a human or animal to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue. In humans, it is usually used in aerobic or anaerobic exercise...

 is necessary to have a good carrying grip.

Normative Data

There has been extensive medical and ergonomic research looking at grip strength. This has led to the generation of normative data. Average values exist for both men and women. Averages also exist for different types of grip in different positions.
We find that grip strength either increases or decreases depending on the arm position at which the grip strength is being measured. A person's grip strength usually results in having the strongest grip strength when their arm is extended at 90° before their body, as opposed to the other extreme arm positions, rested at one's side or held straight up above one's head. Grip strength is not optimal if one's arm is extended backwards beyond the resting position at the body's sides.
We can conclude that grip strength is affected via the different arm muscles and their ability to contract.

In medicine

Grip strength is often used in medicine as a specific type of hand strength
Hand strength
Hand strength measurements are of interest to study pathology of the hand that involves loss of muscle strength. Examples of these pathologies are carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve injury, tendon injuries of the hand, and neuromuscular disorders....

. The purpose of this testing is diverse, including to diagnose diseases, to evaluate and compare treatments, to document progression of muscle strength, and to provide feedback during the rehabilitation process as a measure indicating the level of hand function. For example, it is used to indicate changes in hand strength after hand surgery or after a rehabilitation program. By asking subjects to maintain a maximum contraction for longer periods, it can be used as a measure of fatigue. It is also able to predict a decline in function in old age. Since the above-mentioned grips involve the action of a large number of different joints and muscle groups, grip strength is not always very sensitive to measure individual muscle groups in medicine. For this purpose, dynamometers have been developed that provide more specific information on individual muscles in the hand such as the Rotterdam Intrinsic Hand Myometer (RIHM).

In sports

Hand grip is an important, though often overlooked, component of strength in sports. However, the grip strength is most often a secondary or auxiliary function of the sport. Sports in which grip strength are included within the secondary focus include the following: movement-based climbing
Climbing is the activity of using one's hands and feet to ascend a steep object. It is done both for recreation and professionally, as part of activities such as maintenance of a structure, or military operations.Climbing activities include:* Bouldering: Ascending boulders or small...

, gymnastics
Gymnastics is a sport involving performance of exercises requiring physical strength, flexibility, agility, coordination, and balance. Internationally, all of the gymnastic sports are governed by the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique with each country having its own national governing body...

, horse racing
Horse racing
Horse racing is an equestrian sport that has a long history. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in ancient Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC...

, powerlifting
Powerlifting is a strength sport. It resembles the sport of Olympic weightlifting, as both disciplines involve lifting weights in three attempts. Powerlifting evolved from a sport known as 'odd lifts' which followed the same three attempt format but used a wide variety of events akin to Strongman...

 or professional arm-wrestling; ball-based baseball
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

, gridiron football
Gridiron football
Gridiron football , sometimes known as North American football, is an umbrella term for related codes of football primarily played in the United States and Canada. The predominant forms of gridiron football are American football and Canadian football...

, rugby
Rugby football
Rugby football is a style of football named after Rugby School in the United Kingdom. It is seen most prominently in two current sports, rugby league and rugby union.-History:...

, badminton
Badminton is a racquet sport played by either two opposing players or two opposing pairs , who take positions on opposite halves of a rectangular court that is divided by a net. Players score points by striking a shuttlecock with their racquet so that it passes over the net and lands in their...

 or tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

; and combat sports such as brazilian jiu-jitsu
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art, combat sport, and a self defense system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting...

, boxing
Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people fight each other using their fists. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of between one to three minute intervals called rounds...

, fencing
Fencing, which is also known as modern fencing to distinguish it from historical fencing, is a family of combat sports using bladed weapons.Fencing is one of four sports which have been featured at every one of the modern Olympic Games...

, judo
is a modern martial art and combat sport created in Japan in 1882 by Jigoro Kano. Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the object is to either throw or takedown one's opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue one's opponent with a grappling maneuver, or force an...

 or wrestling
Wrestling is a form of grappling type techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds. A wrestling bout is a physical competition, between two competitors or sparring partners, who attempt to gain and maintain a superior position...


As a separate discipline

From their beginnings as odd performances at fairs and circuses, grip feats have recently gained acceptance as a sport in their own right, with competitions being held with increasing regularity. Events include one-arm deadlift
The deadlift is a weight training exercise where a loaded barbell is lifted off the ground from a stabilized, bent over position. It is one of the three canonical powerlifting exercises, along with the squat and bench press.-Overview:...

, nail bending, the closing of torsion spring hand grippers, v-bar (vertical bar) lifting, and standardized pinch apparatuses. Other common events may include Rolling Thunder lifts, thickbar deadlifts, and "Blob" lifting.

The major contests are:
  • World's Strongest Hands
  • Champion of Champions
  • European Grip Championships
  • Mighty Mitts
  • Britain's Strongest Hands
  • British Grip Championships
  • Münsterland Grip Challenge
  • Global Grip Challenge
  • Loddekopinge Grip Challenge
  • Australian Grip Championships
  • German Grip Championships
  • Backyard Bastard Bash

Top 3 results back to 1955

Feats of Strength

Although grip strength lends itself to impromptu performances that might feature a unique implement or cater to a particular individual or a small group, performances on standardized, widely available tests carry more weight. One such feat involving world class grip strength is officially closing a No. 3 Captains of Crush Gripper
Captains of Crush Grippers
Captains of Crush Grippers are a brand of torsion-spring grippers designed, manufactured and sold by IronMind Enterprises, Inc., based in Nevada City, California...

, first accomplished by Richard Sorin in 1991. Card tearing is a traditional feat of grip and lower arm strength that has a rich history, and top performances include John Brookfield tearing three decks of cards at once and tearing 50 decks of cards in less than a minute. Brookfield has explained the technique for tearing cards in both his MILO article on the topic, and in his book The Grip Master's Manual

Training methods

Grip strength training requires a different type of training regimen than other muscular training. The reasons are primarily based on the interplay of the tendon
A tendon is a tough band of fibrous connective tissue that usually connects muscle to bone and is capable of withstanding tension. Tendons are similar to ligaments and fasciae as they are all made of collagen except that ligaments join one bone to another bone, and fasciae connect muscles to other...

s and muscle
Muscle is a contractile tissue of animals and is derived from the mesodermal layer of embryonic germ cells. Muscle cells contain contractile filaments that move past each other and change the size of the cell. They are classified as skeletal, cardiac, or smooth muscles. Their function is to...

s and the lack of "down time" or rest that most people's hands get.

It is generally considered that all aspects of the hand
A hand is a prehensile, multi-fingered extremity located at the end of an arm or forelimb of primates such as humans, chimpanzees, monkeys, and lemurs...

 must be exercised to produce a healthy and strong hand. Only working on closing grip will cause an imbalance between closing and opening (antagonist) muscles, and can lead to problems such as tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is an entrapment idiopathic median neuropathy, causing paresthesia, pain, and other symptoms in the distribution of the median nerve due to its compression at the wrist in the carpal tunnel. The pathophysiology is not completely understood but can be considered compression...


For closing grip

  • Thickbar work on a two-inch or thicker bar—such as deadlift
    The deadlift is a weight training exercise where a loaded barbell is lifted off the ground from a stabilized, bent over position. It is one of the three canonical powerlifting exercises, along with the squat and bench press.-Overview:...

    s, pullups, and the farmers walk—trains the support grip.
  • Grippers
    Grippers, sometimes called hand grippers, are primarily used for testing and increasing the strength of the hands; this specific form of grip strength has been called crushing grip, which has been defined as meaning the prime movers are the four fingers, rather than the thumb.There are differences...

     train the crushing grip.
  • Plate pinches grabbing plates smooth side out and pinching them.
  • Sledgehammer lever — levering a sledgehammer using the wrists to train fingers and wrist
    In human anatomy, the wrist is variously defined as 1) the carpus or carpal bones, the complex of eight bones forming the proximal skeletal segment of the hand;...

  • Plate curls/wrist curl
    Wrist curl
    The wrist curl is a weight training exercise for developing just the wrist flexor muscles of the forearm. It is therefore an isolation exercise. Ideally, it should be done in combination with the "reverse wrist curl" to ensure equal development of the wrist flexor and wrist extensor muscles.Wrist...

    s — grabbing a plate and doing wrist curls or regular curls with them with the fingers on the bottom and thumb on top, trains the wrists and fingers and thumb for pinch grip.
  • Blockweights — cut off ends of hex dumbbells that are grasped in a pinch grip fashion from different sides of the blockweight with one end grasped by fingers and other by thumb; trained with either singles, timed holds, or tosses from hand to hand.

For opening grip

  • Extensors; these are the muscles that oppose the flexors of the hands and should be trained to achieve a good balance between opposing muscle groups; extensor muscles are key in grip because they must contract aggressively to support finger flexion. Shoving your hand in something like rice
    Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

     and extending it, or placing something such as rocks in a coffee
    Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

     can, putting your hand in there, and extending it to pick up the coffee can, are ways of training your hand extensors.
  • Some grip companies, such as IronMind Enterprises Inc.
    IronMind Enterprises, Inc. is a niche market business based in Nevada City, California, that specializes in “tools of the trade for serious strength athletes.” Though many of its products include strength-training equipment and accessories, IronMind also publishes books, DVDs and the quarterly...

    , sell high-resistance rubber bands which work the extensor grip. Another option, is a weight based machine like "The Gripper" offered by Fitness Specialties U.S.A.. This type of plate loaded machine will not only strengthen your grip but also your forearm strength.
  • As finger flexor/extensors serve a function as wrist flexor/extensors, doing wrist extension exercises (sometimes called "reverse wrist curls") would also stimulate the finger extensor fibers.
  • Doing fist pushups on the backside of the first fingerbone would increasingly put pressure on the extensor muscles as weight was shifted from knuckle-end to the further joint. When in a tight first, the flat of the fingernails can dig into the palm and push the skin down to create a bridge to stabilize the first structure and prevent hyperflexion of the knuckle joints (which can be observed by doing pushups with the entire backside of the fingers flat on the ground, fingers pointing towards the opposite hand).

For stabilization

  • Fingertip pushups would utilize both opening and closing grip muscles to keep the finger from sliding, as well as more focused bone density in the hand, though they are very strenuous and dangerous unless approached progressively.
  • Hand stands free from a wall with fingers pointing behind would use gripping stretching to stabilize the hand to prevent the body from falling towards the front, and extensor muscles to prevent the body from falling towards the back.
  • Metal-rod exercises strengthen the grip indirectly but very effectively through strength training using a metal rod or pole.

Noted grip strength athletes

  • Louis Apollon Uni
    Apollon (strongman)
    Appolon , born Louis Uni, was a French strongman, especially famous for his grip strength.Born in Marsillargues, Uni was a friend and protegé of academic and champion of physical education Edmond Desbonnet. Uni appeared in the silent film Mare Nostrum.He died in Evreux.-External links:*...

  • Thomas Inch
    Thomas Inch
    Thomas Inch held the titles of Britain's Strongest Youth and Britain's Strongest Man.He is known for the Thomas Inch dumbbell, known as "172", a dumbbell that weighs 172lbs and 9 ounces...

  • John Brookfield
  • Magnus Samuelsson
    Magnus Samuelsson
    Magnus Samuelsson , is a Swedish strongman and winner of the 1998 World's Strongest Man contest in Morocco...

  • Joe Kinney
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