I recently had the privilege of walking through Brooklyn Boulders, one of America's best climbing gyms, and could not help but stare in amazement as climbers easily scaled massive walls holding onto nothing but microscopic holds.
If you're anything like me, these particular feats are impressive as you may or may not have the grip of small puppy. I have heard the adage that "A strong grip means a strong back" and the more experience I have with strength training, the more I am convinced that this is absolutely true.
A quick internet search will pull up many ways to build your wrist and grip strength but let's be honest, no one wants to be the guy doing wrist curls in a gym or using a device like this while taking phone calls at our desk.
What you need is a way to build grip strength while maintaining some semblance of balance in your training.
Farmers carries, suitcase carries and waiter walks are all great ways to do this as they certainly work more than just your grip. There is always the classic pull-up and enough volume, your forearms will be asking kindly for you to stop. Swapping an axle or a thicker bar for your standard barbell will also promote better grip strength.
But my favorite workout that will test your grip and work your muscles comes from my friend Jay Collins at MaxEdge training. While it's a simple format, special attention must be paid to form, weight and volume. The program goes something like this:
Beginner 25 rounds | Intermediate 40 Rounds | Advanced 60 Rounds
2 Deadlifts at 60% of 1 RM
2 Burpee pull-ups
3 Deadlifts at 60% of 1 RM
3 Burpee pull-ups
This should be done methodically, over the course of about an hour or so and absolute focus should be on doing every single rep correctly. If the weight feels too heavy in the first ten rounds, chances are you've chosen a weight too heavy for you.
Jay recommends starting with 25 rounds (or 125 total reps) and working your way eventually up to 60 rounds (300 total reps).
Burpee pull-ups are best performed on a bar that you can jump up to grip but can just as easily be broken down into the two distinct movements of a full burpee followed by a strict pull-up.
Move through each movement without rushing and you'll find that it's a great workout because you are able to do a ton of volume without the typical wear and tear that a 10 minute WOD can inflict on your body.
For me, these kinds of programs are a refreshing change as the long form repetition starts to become second nature and you can really start to focus on form. Plus you are continually moving for the better part of an hour which leads to a pretty good calorie burn and lot of repetitions.
So give this a try if you are looking to improve grip strength and next thing you know you'll be scaling rock walls with the best of them.