Remember your first class… or maybe your first few tournaments, where your hands and forearms were on fire? A teammate or your coach rubbed the hell out of them for you before the next one; you couldn’t straighten your fingers for anything, and maybe you had a thought of “what in the helllll is happening here?!” I laughed then and I laugh now, as every once in a while this still happens to me. I get the grip of death on the lapel or sleeve and BAM! My arms are fried; hands feel like someone took a sledgehammer to them, you know you have to relax the grip-be one with the grip (lol!), but your body just. won’t. listen. Now, I know it’s a bit controversial and there are two sides to every coin. Some people say, “to be better at jiu-jitsu train jiu-jitsu,” & others say, “to be better at jiu-jitsu it is good to be well-rounded, strong.” I’m not going to tell you what to do. Everyone has to figure out their own philosophy of what works best for them (remember, it’s your journey?) and utilize it to the best of their ability. That having been said, I thought it might be fun to explore some exercises that focus on strengthening the grip(s). Don’t worry my no-gi brothers and sisters, you can use these as well! Strong grips in gi and no-gi lends to some powerful and beautiful movement, don’t you think? So off we go to wrist & forearm training land, because grips aren’t just about your fingers.
*The Rice Bucket: Literally a bucket/tub/etc full of rice that submerge your hands in, sift your fingers thru while turning your wrists. Sounds silly but you won’t be laughing after 3′ of this. Here are some additional rice bucket exercises to shake it up a bit
*BattleRopes: you’ve seen them on the floor or hanging on the wall at the gym? These won’t only work your arms, biceps triceps and shoulders, but your core as well. Not sure what to do with said ropes?
*Pull-ups: That’s right, good old-fashioned pull-ups. If you’re unable to do a pull-up that’s ok! You’ll build grip and back & arm strength by shooting out of the starting gate & going right for that pull-up bar. Do what you can! Eventually you’ll see your strength increase and be doing 10+ pull-ups in no time. Here’s a little tip for beginners. Once you’re successful with pull-up on the bar, you can use the rings, your gi, do deadmans or change your hand position. There is no shortage of pull-up variety.
*FatGripz: Fat-gripz force you to use your hands to stabilize the weight you’re lifting by increasing the size, literally, of your grip (the thickness of the handhold). This places a demand on your hands and therefore your forearms to work harder (increasing strength demand). No fat-gripz, no problem! Use towels instead.
*Farmers Walk or Suitcase Carries: Well, I like to use the kettlebell for these. Great overall body exercise, but your grips will be like iron after incorporating these into your routine. Feeling as though Farmerwalks on the straightway is too easy? Add stairs into the mix, squats at each end, etc. Nothing easy about these!
There you have it! I know there are only five, and it doesn’t seem like much but, honestly, if you haven’t done these exercises or are new to them, they are more than enough. For those of you who already have a set routine and were maybe looking to shake things up a little, I hope this helps! Personally, I like anything I can do anywhere. Pull-ups are one of my favorites. I have a pull-up bar at home; but you can do pull-ups at the playground, on the monkey bars, on a good strong tree limb, at a skate park, or off the bleachers ( just make sure you let someone know so they don’t think you need some type of assistance… whoopsies!).