February 01, 2008
Although we CrossFitters do our share of both heavy slow lifts and Olympic lifts, where grip plays an important role, grip is probably not something many of us actively focus on training. But grip strength is no less important to us than to full-time powerlifters, Olympic lifters, strongmen, or grapplers. In fact, the nature of our broad training approach means that we have a greater need for healthy hands and multi-dimensional hand strength than most sport-specific athletes. We are also exposed to more potential hand and forearm injuries. Those CrossFitters in law enforcement and combat duties and sports are already aware of the importance of a strong grip and may want to give this training area even more emphasis. This article is an overview of grip strength and will suggest ways to add hand and forearm strength and conditioning work to your training, complete with a sample weekly workout plan at the end.
There are three broad categories of grip strength: crushing, pinching, and supporting. Crushing strength is actively closing the hand, bringing the fingers across the palm with the thumb in essentially a supporting role. Think shaking hands. Pinch grip is a supporting grip, that is, a static grip that holds an object, with the fingers on one side of an implement, usually but not always flat, and the thumb on the other side. Holding a 2 x 6-inch board by the edge and doing rafter pull-ups, for example, require pinch strength. Support or open-hand grip is set around an object to hold it (or you) in place. Deadlifting and rock climbing use this grip.