Strong and functional grip: 7+ Simple Ideas for Grip Strength Exercises without Equipment
If you’re looking for some unconventional ways to train your grip that require little to no equipment, we got something for you. These ideas are for strength trainees who either want to change up their old routine or do something different outside the gym. These are also suitable for people who prefer to work out from the comfort of their home.
There are two types of grip strength that you want to train. Power grip is for when you use your whole hand to grab, hold or twist something. Precision grip is used when you perform tasks that require a lot of effort from your fingers like playing guitar or typing.
You train your power grip for strength and power while precision grip is for agility and dexterity. In other words, you can think of power grip as a picture and precision grip as little details in that picture. If you want to know more about the two types of grip, check out this article here.
With that being said, let’s dive into the important stuff, shall we?
Seven plus simple ideas for grip strength exercises without equipment.
1/ Newspaper crumple:
All you need for this exercise are those newspapers that appear in your mailbox every week. Grab one corner of the newspaper with your fingers and start crumpling it up until it becomes a ball. After that, give it a couple of good squeezes. At first, it will feel easy but your fingers and forearm will start to burn after the second newspaper. Switch hand and start all over again. Rinse and repeat until you have a good pump in your forearm.
Bonus: this exercise is good for warming up before doing some serious grip training.
Grip type: power and precision grip.
2/ Cast iron pan wrist rotation:
You will only need a cast iron pan for this exercise. Grab the handle of the pan and have your arm formed at a 90-degree angle with your body while holding the elbow close to it. Then, rotate your arm externally until the pan is parallel to the floor. Bring the pan back to the starting position and rotate it internally until the pan hits the parallel position again. Do 8 - 12 reps if you want to build grip endurance. Cast iron pans come in different sizes so if you want to add some intensity and build grip strength, simply do this exercise with a bigger size pan. Nevertheless, we recommend starting at 5 reps and 8” pan size then slowly work your way up. This is to prevent golfer’s elbow in case you progress too fast.
Bonus: You can actually do some wrist curls with the cast iron pan. Great way to work those forearms without investing in expensive equipment.
Grip type: mostly power grip. You also strengthen your wrist as a result of the rotation.
3/ Grip a rock:
This exercise is great if you happen to go on a hike. Simply find a rock somewhere near a creek or river bank. Now you have to find the one that will give you a bit of struggle while gripping it. If it is too easy, find a different rock. When you find the right one, hold on to it for as long as you can. You will start to feel the burn in your fingers and forearm. Switch hands and do the same thing. After you’re done with that rock, find a different one that meets the criterion above and repeat the process. Different rocks have a different shape and weight thus will challenge your grip in their own way. You will end up training every muscle in your hand, wrist, and forearm.
Don't underestimate these rocks. They will give your grip a hard time!
Bonus: Great way to add some fun to your cardio workout. Do it with a friend and see who will drop the rock first.
Grip type: power and precision grip.
4/ Crush an apple:
Yes, literally crush an apple with your bare hand. No equipment needed. Zero. Zilch. Nada. However, choose the one that will go bad soon. Save the good ones for later. Fruit is necessary for your recovery.
Bonus: A manly way to discard bad apples.
Grip type: power grip.
5/ Bucket walks:
You need two buckets for this exercise. Fill them with sand first to about halfway then see if you can handle the weight. If you can, start walking with two buckets until your grip cannot handle it anymore. Add more sand and do some more walking until you fill up the two buckets to the top. You can also wrap a towel around the handles to add more girth to it. As a result, your grip will work extra hard to hold onto the handles. When you’re done with the sand, you can start adding rocks instead. That will add more intensity to your workout. If you don’t like the buckets, you can opt for a pair of cinder blocks. You don’t have the option of adding weight to them though.
A bucket full of rocks. Good luck with that!
Bonus: This exercise has all the benefits that farmer’s walks have to offer but with ready-to-use household tools. Better yet, you can do some wrist curls and reverse wrist curls with the buckets. Kill two birds with one stone.
Grip type: power grip.
6/ Swing on a monkey bar:
If a little kid can do it, you can do it too. A playground can be a good place to make some serious gains. Start by swinging across the monkey bar. To make it more challenging, you can do a pull up after every swing. Rinse and repeat until your grip is fatigued. Another thing you can do is to wear a weight vest if you happen to have one. That will add another layer of difficulty on top of the swing and pull up.
Bonus: This exercise requires no equipment at all. You only need your body and a playground. By doing the swing, it also works your whole body coordination as well.
Grip type: mostly power grip. A bit of precision grip when your forearm is fatigued and your fingers have to do more work.
7/ Dead hang:
While you’re at the playground, add some dead hangs after you finish with the swing. Start with two hands and hang for as long as you can. Then hang with just one hand. Switch hand and repeat for as long as you can. This exercise will work your entire arm. Want to make it more difficult? Wrap two towels around the bar then hold onto it. Repeat the same process as described above with one hand hang as well. To make it even more challenging, simple wrap more towels to add some girth. That will really work your grip to the max.
Bonus: By hanging your body, you will end up stretching your upper body. Your shoulders including the scapula will greatly benefit from this. In fact, it will help with your overhead press. Another thing is that the exercise will also decompress your spine from the previous training where it was compressed by heavy loads.
Grip type: power grip and precision grip.
Other interesting ideas for grip strength exercises without equipment you can try.
• Arm wrestling: Challenge your strongest friend to an arm wrestling match. You will know if you need to train your grip more or not. Arm wrestling will work your entire arm. You will have to recruit every muscle fiber in your arm if you want to beat that strong friend.
• Rock climbing: Rock climbers have the best grip in the business. Need we say more? This is also a fun activity to challenge yourself and make new friends.
• Thumbs wrestling: Just kidding!
To conclude, you can do these exercises anywhere you want, at the park or from the comfort of your garage gym. They don’t require any equipment at all. The most that you need is some household tools and your bodyweight to build a strong and functional grip.
Grip strength is not only crucial for weight lifting but also for everyday life. It can prevent problems such as medial epicondylitis a.k.a. golfer’s elbow. This issue can cause pain and discomfort for many people, ranging from professional gamers to baseball players. They can go through all the physical therapy sessions they want but until they address the real crux of the problem which is their grip strength, the pain and discomfort will continue to plague them.
So train hard and smart. Above all, enjoy life and have fun.
Guest Post: Thinh Phan, Professional Freelance Copywriter, specializing in eCommerce.
Thinh is the chief copywriter at Thinh-Can-Write Creative Studio. A Vietnamese iced coffee addict. He enjoys strength training, breakdancing, and MMA. He’s a huge advocate of Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength program.