Having a strong grip means so much more than being able to wrench open a stuck pickle jar with your bare hands. As with any sort of strength, your grip can diminish if you don't work at it. And it's not as simple as working your hands. Just as important is the position of the shoulders and neck during gripping, because that's where the nerves originate from.These 5 exercises work all the right muscles using stuff you have around the house to improve your grip strength and function. Do them in sequence, aiming for duration.
One of the most common tests of grip strength occurs almost every day: carrying heavy bags. Turn the chore into an exercise by loading a reusable grocery bag, with whatever heavy stuff you have on hand. Practice carrying it in one hand, which will also help to train the core, by forcing it to stabilize so you don't lean into the weight. Engage the shoulders by pushing them down and slightly back and keep your chest square to the front, no rounded shoulders. Now walk, back and forth and around your house as long as your grip and posture can handle it.
This delicate-looking grip is pretty tough; thanks to the emphasis you have to put on your fingertips. Grasp a magazine, pincher-style, in your hand, holding it down by your side. Focus on holding the magazine firmly with your fingertips for as long as possible using even force. Start with one magazine, then progress to more as you get better at the exercise. Don't forget to work both hands.
A surprising reason that people lose grip strength is decreased wrist flexibility. This subtle sequence of stretching and releasing will improve mobility in your wrists, and in turn make your grip stronger. Start on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders, knees under hips. Lean your weight forward to bring your wrists to flexion and hold for 10 seconds. Then lean back and release for 10 seconds. Repeat the stretch, leaning in while attempting to pull your fingers back and up. Hold this for as long as you can, then rest.
Take a soft-sided water bottle, fill it about halfway, then seal it well. Grip the bottle and squeeze it as hard and consistently as you can, for as long as you can. Be sure to keep your shoulders relaxed and your core engaged. Switch hands and repeat; do a couple of sets if you can.
This exercise is great for working the integration between your grip, shoulders and core. You'll need to find a railing that you can grasp while standing with good posture and your knees slightly bent. You can mock it up by standing on a stool placed next to your stair banister at home. Set yourself up, as described, standing aside a railing, knees slightly bent, shoulders broad and slightly depressed. Grasp the rail with your fingers facing toward your body. Without losing the integrity of your upper body or your firm grip on the rail, press into your feet, working toward straightening your legs to stand up a bit taller. Maintain the tension as long as you can with good form.