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
Hand Towel Roll and Squeeze
Here is a special Grip Tip that is so intense it will literally make your forearms, fingers, and thumbs burn with blood flow. It is not only a strength builder in the entire lower arm region, but it is also a size builder for the forearms. It is one of my favorites because it challenges and highly develops your dexterity.
I have written in the past about two exercises: squeezing and wringing out a wet beach towel and rolling a hand towel or golf towel into a ball by manipulating it with your fingers. This Grip Tip actually combines the benefits of these two movements—wringing and rolling—into one exercise.
To start, you will need a regular hand towel. It must be hand-towel size to properly do this exercise—a wash cloth or a regular towel won’t work, for example. Once you have your hand towel, you also need a bucket of water. I recommend that you do this exercise outside; however, if you choose to do this one inside, you can stand over the bathtub or perhaps even your kitchen sink.
Soak the hand towel in water and then grasp one of its corners with your fingertips and your thumb. While holding the towel in this position, start to roll or manipulate the towel into a ball in your hand, moving the towel upward. Every time you manipulate it with your fingers, squeeze and pinch the towel vigorously, wringing the water out of the towel. This motion of rolling and squeezing the water out of the towel is extremely challenging. Attempt to wring all the water out of the towel at each point before you roll the towel up tighter. The object is to roll up the entire hand towel into a ball with all the water squeezed out.
The hand towel roll and squeeze also works the hand at every angle. You will notice that when you start the exercise, your fingers are almost touching your thumb, and as you squeeze and roll up the towel, your hand opens wider and wider. By the time you have rolled up the towel completely, your hand will be open very wide. After you finish, repeat the exercise with the other hand.
This movement may be very difficult at first, but keep working on it and you will be able to master it. Remember to continue to squeeze the water out of the towel as you roll up the towel into the ball. If you want to make the exercise a little harder, you can use a golf towel with the hole of the towel at the bottom; run a wire through the hole and attach a small bucket of sand, adding to the resistance. As you roll up and squeeze the towel, the extra weight will make it harder.
Be sure to soak the towel in water each time you finish rolling up the towel and start over again. I highly recommend the hand towel roll and squeeze to everyone interested in exceptional lower arm strength.
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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