Train Your Open Palm Grip

In our month-long quest to strengthen our arms and forearms, we trained a crush grip , a supportive grip, and a pinch grip. Now it’s time for another challenge: the open grip, which helps to hold large objects, and sometimes odd shapes.

Thick bars

The open handle is what helps you hold onto the two inches thick axle. (Its handle is the same width as the parts on the end where you put the kettlebells.) Axles are common in strongman competition, and you can sometimes find them elsewhere, such as in powerlifting gyms, because they are kind of funny toy.

The axle press isn’t much different from the barbell press, but they are two completely different directions if you need to do more than just support the bar from below. If you need to clean it (lift it off the ground) to put it in place, it is much more difficult. The thick bar deadlift is also a tough challenge for your grip.

This is because you cannot fold your fingers completely under the bar. That supportive grip that helps you on your regular deadlifts is (for the most part) useless here. You have to squeeze the bar with your hands to keep it from slipping, and you need very strong arms to do this with heavy weights. Here’s a Jefferson deadlift that I did with a 2-inch bar:

If your gym has a thick barbell, play with it. In addition to the deadlift, you can also use it for auxiliary work such as curls and rows to strengthen your forearms and grip while you work on other muscles.

If you don’t have one, grab a pair of Fat Gripz and use them on a regular bar. They feel a little different (for example, chalk makes them more slippery), but they make your job harder when you lift a barbell or dumbbell.

Other fun things to pick up

Dumbbells can have thick handles too, so feel free to slide the thick handle over the dumbbell and try to lift it. In the old days of strongman shows, it was common to have dumbbells that a strong man could lift, but no one else could. Sometimes it was a trick, but often part of the secret was that the handle was so wide that the average person would not have been able to hold onto it unless he had specially trained in it. Thomas Inch dumbbells are probably the most famous example, and copies of them are sometimes used if someone wants to demonstrate their exceptional grip strength:

You can use a thick dumbbell grip if you want to understand how difficult this task is. I once lifted a 75-pound dumbbell in this way, which is only 43% of an inch.

For more creative ways to train your open hand grip, simply lift something heavy and your hand must be relatively open to grasp it. Blots or cropped dumbbells are one of the classic ways to do this. (You can also just place the dumbbell straight up and grab the round or hexagonal section at the top without sawing off anything.)

r / GripTraining offers to save for an empty jug of protein powder (which usually is big, with large caps) and fill it with heavy objects: stones, sand, or simply drop it off spare dumbbells and barbells. Take the jug from the lid and see if you can lift it.

So feel free to think of other interesting ways to work your grip. I have heard of people hanging oddly shaped objects from a bar (like tennis balls?). Or find an oddly shaped object in your home or yard. How will you work out the open grip this week?


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