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Weak hands and forearms - need guidance for grip strength

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Hello all!


I have a history of weakness in my hands and forearms that started about five years ago. I think a combination of long bumpy bike rides with me riding on the brakes and playing aggressive bass in a metal band for many years just continually tore my wrists and forearms down. The end result is that my forearms often tire and give before my target muscles. Today is my rest day and I'm noticing a good amount of pain in my hands left over from the past two days of lifting. I think that the weakness in my hands and forearms is related but not necessarily directly connected in any way, I think it's just two areas that I've tended to abuse in the past.


I realize that I probably need to start doing some rehab on these areas, but I'm not sure where to start. My lifts are starting to get heavy enough where, for instance, when I'm deadlifting I'm feeling my grip going before my legs and my back. I want to be able to keep progressing but this won't be possible if this weakness/sensitivity stays the same. Currently I use gloves when I lift, but I'd be willing to ditch them if those more experienced than I think that they may be contributing to the weakness. I have some callouses built up and am comfortable going without gloves if necessary but they definitely make the lifting much easier for me.


I've been thinking about getting some Fat Gripz to keep at home and use them for doing some rehab work at home with light weights. Does this seem like something that might help? When the issues started back years ago my mother (who is a physical therapist but deals more with elderly patients than sports rehab) suggested that I work with a soup can and do a lot of wrist curls. I did that for awhile but I've fallen out of it for years. I'm not sure if I felt like it helped at all.


I am unwilling to give up my daily bike rides unless it is the only way to correct this. I do tend to have an aggressive posture on my bike which puts pressure on the wrists, so I imagine this exacerbates the situation and maybe I should raise my bars a little.


Anyone with advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated. I'm willing to slow things down if it'll help in the long term, I just need to know what I should be doing to take care of these weak spots. I had been hoping that consistent lifting would be enough to strengthen them up but it doesn't seem to be the case.


Thanks in advance!

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Here's the exercises I did to develop my grip strength into a strong point, and I still do them every week...


BAR HANGS - hang from a bar and work up your grip strength so that you can hang for 3 x 1min. You can also try these one-handed

D.BELL FARMERS WALKS - grab some heavy dumbbells and walk with them. Work up to 3 sets over 100m

TREADMILL D.BELLS - Walk for 10-15mins holding dumbbells at your side

SQUEEZES - Great all-round strengthener for the hands as well as your grip. Repeatedly squeeze a tennis ball

HEAVY DL HOLDS - 80-100% of your max, hold the lift at the top for as long as you can


Do you lift overhand/underhand (mixed grip) when you deadlift? This will give you a lot more stability and grip when the weight gets heavy. Another thing to consider would be to stop using lifting straps if you currently use them. Hope some of these help, start doing them regularly and they will make a big difference. Let me know how you go JIM.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Before overloading your grip with a tonne of grip/forearm exercises, make sure you have the basics down;


Use chalk (this might be the most important, if you have sweaty or clammy hands your grip will suffer severely)

Don't use gloves (take care of your hands to avoid callous tears. chopping them every week or two should be fine, but don't tear them off)

Don't use straps (in my opinion these are not for beginners, you need to let your grip strength build up)

Use double overhand grip for as long as you can, switch to mixed grip only when your grip fails, or hook grip if your hands are big enough (I recommend this)


If you are smart with loading your weights your grip should be getting plenty of work and a good gradual buildup to handling the weights. Look at all these first before considering assistance exercises. Deadlifts, rows, pullups are all great for grip and should have a place in every routine in my opinion.

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Hey thanks, that's some good advice. I've been using gloves for ~a year now, but have been thinking recently of moving to chalk. After getting several suggestions to try that, I think I'll have to get some and chalk up instead this next week. I've been basically following the approach that you've outlined here - tried doing some assistance work a while back but fell off of it pretty quickly. I still have some issues with my grip but I feel like they're slowing working themselves out as I just work on the main lifts.

Thanks again!

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Hey Landsleaving, thanks for the tip. I don't know when in my life I'll come across ropes for climbing, but if I do I'll keep them in mind for varying my workouts!


Also, re: the Eco Ball, I've used it for two sessions now happily. I'm still getting used to it but I like it. Haven't used it for deads yet (that'll be tomorrow), so I'll report on that later.

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  • 8 months later...

Have you considered that your problem might be in your tendons and ligaments and not exactly in your muscles?.

After all you can produce as much force as your tendons let your muscles use.

Connective tissue becomes stronger at a slower rate than muscle around ten times slower, maybe you stressed your tendons too much during some time in your life and didnt gave them enough time to heal.

I hurt my shoulder while working out poorly, i took some weeks of rest, did some rehab which i found on internet, corrected my form and now i'm taking glucosamine and chondroitine. I think it's worth it if you don't want it to progress into something worse.

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I hurt my shoulder while working out poorly, i took some weeks of rest, did some rehab which i found on internet, corrected my form and now i'm taking glucosamine and chondroitine. I think it's worth it if you don't want it to progress into something worse.

You probably already know, but just a heads up that most glucosamine is sourced from shellfish and/or can also contain ingredients sourced from shark.




Make sure that you buy one that clearly says 'shellfish free' on the bottle ~ Solgar and a couple of other brands make ones that are suitable for vegans

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