Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
2 May

WOW: Grip Work

pbf wow 2

Complete 4 cycles:

30 Meter Farmer’s Carry
8 Towel Pullups
20-second Door Pinches, each hand

How-to:

Warmup: 30 second Grok Squat, 30 second Grok Hang.

Ever shake the knobby hand of an old farmer and marvel at how it inexplicably crushes yours with ease, despite muscular atrophy supposedly having set in twenty years prior to your meeting? Or what about the opposite – have you offered a firm handshake and received a limp, flaccid, moist thing in return? We all want the farmer’s grip, because it exudes confidence. Heck, you might say that hand strength is one indication of character. It may not be fair, and it may not always be accurate, but that’s how these things work.

So how do you develop your grip strength? You use your hands to carry, lift, support, and move heavy objects. Today, that’s what you’ll be doing.

Farmer’s carry you’ve done before. Just in case you haven’t, it involves carrying two heavy objects at your sides as you walk. Try to aim for objects of roughly equal weight, but if you can’t swing it, just switch hands halfway through each carry. Keep your shoulder blades back and down and your core tight for this exercise. Squeeze the grips and think farmer!

For a towel pullup, hang a towel over your pullup bar and grab both ends. Now do a pullup. Feel the difference? It’s working the same muscles – biceps, lats, the usual pullup stuff – while forcing you to focus and develop your grip. Pulling yourself up by gripping some bunched up towel is a far cry from hanging onto a bar specifically designed for pullups. Now do seven more pullups.

Door pinches sound odd, but they’re really not. You’ll need one thing: a door that happens to be ajar. Grab the side of the door with one hand, about knob-high, and pinch it between your thumb and the other four fingers. Really squeeze it. Slowly lean back and sit into a squat while holding onto the door. Don’t let your body fall. Keep that strong grip on the door with your single hand; that grip should be the only thing keeping you from toppling back onto your butt. Hold it for 20 seconds and switch hands.

How’s your hand feel? Wait til you see the other guy.

A few things to remember:

  • A strong grip doesn’t just send messages to other humans who encounter it; it also sends a message to your CNS. White knuckling something tells your nervous system to prepare for a heavy object. That means squeezing the heck out of a weight might allow you to lift more of it.
  • Watch where you’re walking during the farmer carry. If the objects you’re carrying are of sufficient weight, taking an easily avoided spill by hurrying or forgetting to watch where you’re going can result in injury.
  • Don’t let form go out the window during the towel pullups. You still need to keep your shoulder blades retracted and be wary of dead hangs; using a towel usually means your hands are closer together, which puts your shoulder in a potentially compromised position at a full dead hang.

Variations:

Break each exercise up, rather than superset them. Use climbing rope instead of a towel (in fact, that may be better for your grip, depending on the thread count and size of the towel). Fingertip pullups also work grip, albeit a bit differently.

What Are WOWs?

  • Workouts of the Week (WOWs) are an optional component of Primal Blueprint Fitness that add a fractal and often fun and playful quality to the basic PBF protocol.
  • In most cases WOWs should only be completed by those that have mastered Level 4 of each Lift Heavy Things Essential Movement. Also, it’s recommended that WOWs replace one or both Lift Heavy Things workouts or the Sprint workout (depending on the WOW) each week instead of being done in addition to the Lift Heavy Things and Sprint workouts.
  • Learn more about WOWs and Primal Blueprint Fitness by getting the free eBook. And access all Workouts of the Week in the WOW Archive.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Ouch, my fingers.

    Luke wrote on May 2nd, 2011
  2. Mark,

    Is there any chance that you will create a separate eBook for all these WOW’s? Maybe when you have 50 or so? I think your readers would love that including myself!

    I would be more than happy to create it if you don’t wish to spend the time on it.

    Primal Toad wrote on May 2nd, 2011
  3. Mark, thank you so much for sharing the towel pull-up exercise! I study aerial acrobatics (trapeze, rope, silks) and have been frustrated with the differences in muscle activation between my bar at home and the aerial equipment. These really activate those “grip” muscles I need to stay up on thee ropes!

    Aerialist wrote on May 2nd, 2011
  4. Grip strength associated with all-cause mortality. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17056604

    Carrin wrote on May 2nd, 2011
  5. This is good. I need to improve my BJJ grappling, and strong grips is a necessary part of that!

    Joe Brancaleone wrote on May 3rd, 2011
  6. Great post Mark! Yes, a strong grip is more than just something to intimidate other men with. As Carrin pointed out, it is a surprisingly decent measure of overall strength and health. If you remember high school gym class (for us older Groks…), the Rope Climb required a vise-like grip to keep from sliding down (and getting a nasty rope burn!). I find that using heavy dumbbells while doing shrugs does wonders for the grip.

    Rob wrote on May 3rd, 2011
  7. Awesome!

    I have a cool WOW I do from time to time.
    I call it “The Whaler”. It consists of 5 sets/rounds of the following:
    * Seated cable/pulley rows x 12-15 reps (i.e. you are rowing out to the whale)
    * Followed by (immediately) push-ups x 15-25 reps or – even better – seated dummbell presses (right on the seat of the rows) x 8-15 reps (you are “spearing”/”thrusting” at the whale).

    Increase weight from set to set (5th set is heaviest and most challenging). Take 60 to 90 seconds rest between sets.

    Have fun,
    Theo

    Theo Schmidt wrote on June 24th, 2011

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