John Brookfield's Grip Tips
By John Brookfield
Author of Mastery of Hand Strength, Revised Edition, Training with
Cables for Strength, The Grip Master’s Manual, and Real-World Conditioning
In this month’s Grip Tip, I will share with you a grip strength enhancer that will not only develop your lower-arm strength, but also motivate and challenge you. I have mentioned many times before that training must be fun and motivating for you to be able to accomplish your goals over a long period of time. With this exercise, you will definitely have fun and be challenged.
This exercise, which I call plate rotation, is a relative of the Grip Tip I wrote on plate swinging and catching. However, plate rotation is a little harder, and the next step up from plate swinging and catching. Many of you may be a bit hesitant or cautious about trying the plate rotation. However, if you follow my instructions, it will be completely safe.
First, you will need to be outside with plenty of room. Also, you may not want to practice this exercise on turf or manicured grass when you start, as you may make divots in the grass when you drop the plate. Once you find the right place to practice, you will need to choose a plate to begin; I suggest a 25-pound plate at first. Be sure that the plate you start with is not sharp or jagged around the edges, to avoid getting cuts or abrasions. I suggest using two hands to catch the plate as well.
Stand by holding the plate with both hands, palms facing towards your body. Keep your feet fairly wide apart so that there is plenty of room for the plate. Now swing the plate forward in front of you so that the plate is at about face level. As the plate is at about eye level and at arm’s length in front of you, give the plate a little push forward with the tips of your fingers. This slight push on the edge of the plate as you let go of the plate will cause it to rotate or spin. As the plate rotates, you grasp the other side as it comes around—this is a half turn of the plate. From here, let the plate swing between your legs and then up to face level again, and once again give the plate a slight push forward as you let go, so that it rotates another half turn; grasp it on the other side as it comes around and let the plate swing down again between your legs.
As you get used to this, try to turn the plate a complete 360-degree revolution and catch it, then let it swing between your legs and rotate it again. Remember, the harder you push the plate, the faster it rotates. Occasionally I catch a 50-pound plate after it has rotated two complete revolutions. Swinging and catching the rotating plate is a great challenge and a great way to develop a powerful explosive grip.
As you improve, move to heavier plates to rotate. You can also catch the plate with one hand instead of both hands, or as I mentioned, you can try and spin or rotate the plate more than one revolution. If you have trouble catching the plate, just let it fall to the ground in front and away from your body. Good luck and good plate rotating.
Editor's note: John Brookfield’s books Mastery of Hand Strength, Revised Edition, The Grip Master’s Manual, Training with Cables for Strength, and Real-World Conditioning combine John’s limitless creativity with his friendly, downhome manner. John’s articles are also regularly featured in MILO: A Journal for Serious Strength Athletes.
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