T Nation

Beginner Training and Grip Strength

Hi everybody,
Some quick context about me: 27 yo, 5’10’’, ~190 lbs. Lifted fairly seriously in high school and college, entered the workforce and promptly got knocked out of my exercise routine. Finally picked up lifting again at the start of 2017, so I’m about 6 months in at this point. After about 5 years off from lifting, I’m considering myself a beginner, and trying to train like a beginner - 3-4 days/week of full-body training sessions, focusing on building a strength base before tackling hypertrophy and fat loss.

My problem is that I’m starting to notice my grip is a limiting factor on deadlifts and pullups - I know my posterior chain and lats can handle more, but my hands are just plain giving out. I’ve always been told that beginners should avoid isolation work and focus on the big lifts, so I haven’t done anything major targeted at the forearms. And my grip is getting stronger over time - it’s just not keeping up with strength gains in the rest of my body, and I hate the feeling that other parts of the workout are suffering because my grip can’t keep up.

Did anybody else have this problem? Is this normal, and I should just suck it up for now? Or would some grip training (farmer’s walks, hangs from pullup bars, etc.) be helpful? If so, how would you program it?

Thanks in advance.

Do you use chalk? That was a big factor for me. I find unless I do a great deal of grip work , I have to resort to use a mixed grip on anything above about 190kg as I have average size hands. I would say isolation work especially with a thick bar is very good for your grip strength in general i.e. barbell curls with thick handled dumbells. However grip strength is very specific so nothing beats loading a barbell up in the rack (be prepared to irritate people a little ) and do rack pulls or shrugs first without chalk , then with chalk , then with straps , until you using so much weight, that it is difficult to move with straps that will also improve your grip.
Be mindful also of the different quality of knurling on bars. Using a smooth bar can be difficult and it slips from your grasp.Too sharp and it will destroy your hands i.e. cut tear them in short measure.

Patience, more pulling, Kroc rows

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Agree more rows, patience, and chalk. Also try a hook grip on deads and make sure you’re doing heavy carries. That has made all the difference for me. And, don’t be afraid to use straps after the grip fails and you still have more in the deadlift tank. It’s easy to get caught up in some of the discussions against straps on the net, but your body isn’t going to get stronger evenly no matter how hard you try to balance your workouts. There will be starts and stops.

Try this…

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Thanks for the responses! So it sounds like what I’m hearing is:

  1. Don’t be afraid to use straps/chalk/assistance if you need it
  2. Do more grip-specific work
  3. Be patient and your body grow.

That’s all really helpful. Let me know if I’ve misrepresented something, but that gives me a good place to start.

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Only 6 months in, you dont need straps at all apart from decimation’s shrug tip above. Chalk totally fine

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Ed Coan’s got a neat grip exercise you can use in this video.


Nice video, Coans a great teacher there

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Yea like what was mentioned, don’t be afraid of straps, etc. Treat your grip training and the rest of it as 2 separate categories and get stronger in both, separately