Hey Girly Man, A New Study Says Your Grip Strength Stinks…Here’s How To Fix It
Bad news fellas…you’re getting weaker.
Don’t shoot the messenger — seriously, I can’t take another round of anti-2A protests and sit ins – and you might not be able to anyway, because science says you’re not strong enough to pull the trigger.
Okay, maybe you aren’t THAT weak, but there’s been a change over the years, and a recent study in the Journal of Hand Therapy found that “that millennial men may have significantly weaker hands and arms than men the same age did 30 years ago.”
Give me enough time and I promise you I’ll find a way to blame this all on Pokemon Go, but in the meantime let’s see what the guys in the lab coats have to say.
“Researchers measured the grip strength (how strongly you can squeeze something) and pinch strength (how strongly you can pinch something between two fingers) of 237 healthy full-time students aged 20 to 34 at universities in North Carolina.”
“The average 20-to-34-year-old today, for instance, was able to apply 98 pounds of force when gripping something with his right hand. In 1985, the average man could squeeze with 117 pounds of force.”
And if you thought that was bad check this out.
“To look at it another way: In 1985, the typical 30-to-34-year-old man could squeeze your hand with 31 pounds more force than the typical woman of that age could. But today, older millennial men and women are roughly equal when it comes to grip strength.”
That’s right boys; if you have a twin sister she might have a stronger handshake than you do. Girlfriend can’t get a pickle jar open? If she can’t do it you probably can’t either – give her dad a call, he probably has a better chance of getting the lid off than either of you.
The good news is there’s a cure for this growing epidemic of limp-wristedness, and as usual it involves picking up heavy objects and putting them back down.
You’ve undoubtedly seen bros doing high rep sets of wrist curls to wrap up their “arm day” at the gym. This will certainly add some size to your forearms, but if you really want them to blow up and get stronger then deadlifts, pull ups, heavy dumbbell/barbell holds, farmers walks, and fat bar work will get you where you need to go.
(If your gym doesn’t have a thick bar you can wrap towels around barbells or dumbbells to make them thicker, or order a set of fat grips http://www.fatgripz.com/ )
I’ve got also some programs and exercises courtesy of T-Muscle, but first a quick anatomy lesson. (Note: I’ve been a T-Muscle reader for a decade, it’s without question the best training website out there, their word may not be gospel, but it’s close).
There is an anterior (front) and posterior (rear) forearm.
The posterior forearm is made up of 12 different muscles, their job is to produce extension at the wrist and fingers. For visual learners – get down into a pushup position; look at your hand and wrist, that’s extension. When you think of all the times your wrist is in some degree of extension during a workout, the need for stronger extensors becomes obvious.
The anterior forearm is made up of 8 different muscles, and is responsible for flexion at the wrist and fingers – this is huge when it comes to grip strength, so if you want to impress your chick by beating a leather clad biker in an arm wrestling contest the flexors are your new best friend.
As a relatively small muscle group the forearms are short on recovery time and respond well to high frequency and high volume training, and as I mentioned before they’re getting worked every time you pull (pullups or deadlifts) or hold something heavy (shrugs, farmers walks, heavy holds, etc.). But since they respond so well to higher frequency training you can get great results by throwing some forearm specific work into your training program wherever possible.
Check out these from T-Muscle, and your wrists will look like Louisville Sluggers in no time.