How Grip Training Could Save Your Life


by Dan Cenidoza, CSCS, RKC, AKC, CK-FMS

Every exercise program should contain some element of grip training. With a few simple exercises and 5 minutes of your total workout time, you could strengthen your hands exponentially. You can be far stronger than you probably think is possible in such a short amount of time. Motor learning, neural processes and muscle recruitment play a much larger role in hand strength than training time, muscle size, age or gender. I will discuss those things in a future article. The most compelling argument there is to train your grip is the simple fact that your life could depend on it.

In the countless ways there are for people to check out, I can think of at least a few that could be prevented with stronger hands.

Being attacked by another human being. This is actually why I started working out in the first place. My dad is a martial artist and holds advanced degree blackbelts in several disciplines. You can bet I was taught how to fight and defend myself. As long as I can remember we've had free weights, punching bags and grippers laying around the house. Hitting back was encouraged, as was protecting your little brother and your lunch money.

The unfortunate reality is that there are people out there that may try to harm you and/or your loved ones. Having strong hands will help you to protect yourself, your belongings and those around you.

Think of the role of the hands in self defensive situation. Someone grabs you, tries to steal your purse, jack your car, threatens your child, attacks your friend, whatever; your reaction will probably involve a hand-to-attacker maneuver hopefully thwarting any negative outcome to you and yours. There has been at least two occasions in my adult life where by simply squeezing someones neck I defused an attack (there are also other places that are vulnerable to squeezing, however specifics escape me at the moment). Once was when my soon-to-be wife's jealous ex-boyfriend charged me, and another was when a drunk started a fight with my friend outside of a pizza shop. On both accounts, I was forced to react to a situation that I did nothing to provoke and in no way could have prevented. I am proud that I "won the fight" but sorry that the situation occurred in the first place. It's not likely that either encounter was a life or death situation, but you never know. The point is, it was the strength of my hand that stopped the attack.

Being attacked by an animal. Long gone are the days we had to wrestle saber tooth tigers, but everyone knows someone that was bitten by a dog. Strong hands are of little match for a set of sharp teeth, but you could wield a bigger weapon with a pair of mightier mitts. The difference between shaking a stick and swinging a bat could be the difference between life or limb against a rabid dog off his leash.

Natural disaster. Tsunami in Indonesia, hurricane in New Orleans, earthquake in Haiti, flooding in Nashville; did anyone who survived do so literally by "hanging on"? Probably. I don't know of any specific stories but I do know that better climbing, holding, digging or swimming could only be a good thing in such a situation. My thoughts and prayers go out to those families who lost loved ones in those tragic events.

Military/Police/Fire/Rescue. You know what your job entails better than I do. No need to say any more.

In my opinion, there really is no other better reason to be strong than someones life may depend on it, which is why this article is first in this series. In the few minutes it takes to squeeze a gripper and do a set or two of wrist curls, it's in your best interest to train your grip.

In the next article, How Stronger Hands Means a Stronger Body.