Pumping iron at the gym is always something in which you either go all in or you just don’t do. The problem for most of us is that we lack the motivation, will and spirit to be able to in the words of Shia LaBeouf: “Just Do It!” for several days a week on a consistent basis in order to achieve any sort of gains in the long term. The most striking question that people pose are: “How can I get more out of what I do while doing less?” Some may call it wishful thinking because true success comes from blood, sweat and tears. While there is no denying that someone can’t just magically give you what you want, at the very least, there are alternatives out there. Alternatives which don’t force you to leave your home and go to some gym whose membership is overpriced and you’ll probably stop attending a couple of weeks after that New Year’s resolution.
What do hand grips do?
Before we answer this question, we need to know what exactly they are if you aren’t already familiar. Hand grips, otherwise, at times referred to as “grippers” are two handles made of plastic, wood, steel or aluminum that are connected to each other through a torsion spring. These torsion springs are usually made of steel and are flexible and elastic in order to store mechanical energy when they are twisted. They were created around 100 years ago to test and improve people’s grip strength in their hands. This type of hand strength is quantified mainly by the strength of our 4 fingers, excluding our thumbs. This means that if we choose to measure our grip strength, we have to hold the hand grip with one hand and attempt to squeeze the two handles together while battling the resistance of the torsion spring. These exercises should be repetitive and carried out daily in order to generate the desired results. And the results are important to know. They obviously improve their grip strength through the repetitive crushing motion, but it also improves endurance, the dexterity of your individual fingers, strengthen our wrists and even works out our forearms.
Are hand grips effective?
Hand grips are not just effective due to their muscle regeneration but due to the additional information that comes along with grip strength. Numerous studies in the past have proven that hand grip strength in mid-age(40’s-60s) is a clear indicator of the likelihood of obtaining functional limitations and/or disabilities later in life. This is essentially telling us that weaker grip strength earlier in life can be a strong indicator that you might need to transition to a wheelchair in 30 years time due to the decreasing amount of muscle mass in your body. This serves as an excellent warning sign to encourage us to start exercising as soon as possible. It’s absolutely necessary that people with weaker grip strength going into middle age go and exercise to maintain and build on their muscle mass so that they can continue to live mobile and active lives. Hand grips act as a gateway to realizing what must be done to preserve your body so that you can get the most of your life and starting off with working out your hand muscles. People with natural calcium or iron deficiencies are especially vulnerable since they are more likely to develop osteoporosis in later years.
How many hand grips should I do?
One of the first questions asked when discussing exercise is what the right amount and intensity is. How much is enough and when should I stop to not get to a point where you’re overworking yourself and not making any progress. Experts in the field suggest doing short but high-intensity rips with your hand grips. The reasoning for this is that it quickly breaks won the muscles to instantly stimulate the growth of bigger, stronger muscles. The more commonly advertised method of lengthy sessions with low intensity sometimes advertised at gym for beginners doesn't apply here. Those types of workouts will not increase your hand grip strength in any substantial way and will only cause accelerated wear and tear on your hand grips from extended use. This translates to doing less reps at a higher intensity to get the results you need and not have to go out to buy extras to not waste time and money.
Before starting, make sure to do 1 or 2 warm-up sets where you’re not going to be exerting your maximum effort so that you can warm up your muscles. Overexertion from the start without a proper warmup can result in strains or cramps which are not a pleasant feeling and probably something you don’t want to have to experience. After that, it’s recommended to do several (2-3) maximum intensity sets. It’s important to remember that the quality of the reps is far more significant than the quantity of reps. Always make sure to fully bring together the two handles and to not count it if you haven’t brought the two handles completely together. This should be done approximately every other day. Why is that the case? It’s very similar to the gym in fact. When you go to the gym and have an intense session, doctors recommend to then take time off to rest so that your body can heal and your ne muscles can grow before you return and complete the process it all over again. This wisdom equally applies to hand grips. Now, we all know that it’s much easier said than done, especially for working out at the gym but with hand grippers, it’s not nearly as much of a hassle. They are incredibly light-weight and portable meaning you can do your exercises at any time of the day. You can do it while eating lunch or watching a movie before bed or even in the shower; we don’t judge.
When you do transition to another hand gripper, when it’s time for you to increase the mechanical strength in the spring if your previous gripper had become too easy for you, be certain that you're making that move at the right time. A helpful rule of thumb is when you are able to do around 20 to 25 complete reps with your current hand grip for the 3 or 4 total sets that you plan to do, it’s probably a good move to move onto the next level. After moving on, you’ll be able to continue improving your hand and forearm muscle strength.
Do hand grippers build forearms?
As recently stated, yes, hand grippers do indeed build forearm muscles. Our forearm muscles are the flexors for our fingers. This means that our forearm muscles are connected to our fingers and our forearm strength translates to our grip strength. Therefore, there is a strong correspondence between your grip strength and your forearm muscles. If you are one of the people purchasing a hand gripper just for the benefit of working out your forearm muscles, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! Once again, it’s far easier than alternatives offered at sports facilities or gyms.
Average Grip Strengths
There are various hand grip strengths that vary for men and women but the general trend being with men a grip strength rating in their early 40s is around 35.5 to 55kg with that grip strength with that range decreasing by about 1.5kg after every 5 years until the age of 70. Within the 70 and up range, the range drops dramatically to 21-35kg. For women, the average grip strength rating in their early 40s being in the range of 19-32.5 kg and then decreasing gradually by 0.5kg every 5 years before dropping to 15.5- 27kg in their late 60s and 14.5-24.5 in their early 70s. If you want to reach the top of your potential, go ahead! If you are in the lower end or below the average range for your age group, you should strongly consider purchasing a hand grip and commit to more serious exercise to keep up your physique.
To summarize, hand grips are certainly something that can work for anyone and everyone. Whether you’re looking for gains to reach that ideal body or if you're thinking long-term about your health in senior years, there’s no reason to hesitate to buy a hand grip. The important thing to remember with all sports is to exercise the right way to get the best results while also avoiding injury. Hand grips are an amazing substitute to working out at the gym and can help you avoid the costs of physiotherapy later in life when muscle mass deterioration can become a huge issue that you might have to confront. You can purchase one for $10-$20 online or at a fitness store to make sure your future goals become your reality now.