When lifting weights, we tend to organize our schedules by muscle groups. The plan is to evenly spread out our exercise programs to ensure that we work each muscle group and don’t overwork any single group. Could you imagine doing your chest 5-6 days in a row? Not only would you reach a precipice where you are doing more harm than good, you would also neglect the rest of your body. This may seem like common sense, however what most people do not realize is that they are most likely overworking their grip/forearms.
Have ever been doing dead-lifts, lat pull-downs, shrugs, or any other pull exercise and you had to stop because you couldn’t hold the weight anymore? Then you could benefit from a pair of hooks, straps or grips. These devices are designed to take your grip out of the lift by supporting the weight over your wrists. You will be able to grip the bar more efficiently, lift heavier, and get better results than you would with a failing grip.
Often people will counter my point with, “but my grip/forearms won’t get stronger”. To these people I say when I am working my back I am not working my grip/forearms. Should my grip/forearms need additional work I will train them specifically. These devices can help prevent medial/Radial ligament damage (golfer’s elbow/tennis elbow) that typically occurs from overuse.
Straps form a loop where the athlete will place their hand through and then wrap the remaining tail around the bar several times. The athlete will then twist them into their grip and begin lifting. These are the cheapest of the three options coming in at $8-30. Although straps relieve your grip from being fully used, it will still be needed during exercises.
Hand grips can be a simple square pad, or be part of a glove. The padding wraps around bars helping to prevent calluses, hand strain, and blisters. Typically these are made from a non-slip material and can be used for both push and pull exercises. These come in at $15-25 (depending on your options). As with straps you are still using your grip, however it is significantly reduced.
Hooks attach around the athletes wrist via heavy-duty Velcro straps. The hooks follow the hand and curve out near the top of the palm. All the athlete has to do is place the hooks under the bar and begin exercising. Hooks are strong enough that you can let go of the bar while lifting and all the weight will be anchored on your wrists (in a non-painful way). Hooks can be used on any pull exercise, however they are more limited than the other two options because if the hooks transition above the bar, the bar can come loose (ex. there will be no barbell curls with hooks). These are the most expensive of the three options coming in at $15-50. These are the true no-grip devices.
I own a pair of Schiek Power Lifting Hooks and use them for almost all pull exercises. They have a 3” wide hook and they fit my hands perfectly. If you suffer from medial/radial elbow pain, or your grip fails before the muscles you are trying to work, then I suggest you try one of these three options.
Any of these options can be found on bodybuilding.com, or a variety of other online and local retailers.
(Featured Image Courtesy of rougefitness.com)