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
Medicine Ball Lifting
In this Grip Tip we will explore a special way to build your grip using medicine balls, a very productive method for gaining a lot of hand strength while having fun at the same time. The type of medicine balls I am talking about are the smaller compact ones. These balls are usually from 8 to 15 pounds in weight; filled with a type of silicone substance, they are quite heavy and awkward for their size. They, of course, are round and about the size of the different block weights that people use to pinch grip. I have a 10-pound and a 12-pound medicine ball. The size of these balls is about the size of the famous Blob that is so popular.
These smaller, compact balls have been cropping up in many different places. I have found them at Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and even Big Lots, or you can always purchase them at a sporting goods store. Once you have purchased your medicine ball, you have a great grip tool. I will give you a few exercises, but before you start; be sure that your hands are good and dry.
To start, grip the ball over the top with a pinch-grip technique. You may be surprised how hard it is to hang onto a 10- or 12-pound medicine ball using a pinch grip for very long. Once you grip the ball, simply curl it using the traditional curling technique. Continue curling the ball, bringing it back to the starting position using the pinch grip. You will be getting a great overall grip workout with a special emphasis on your thumb. Be sure to do equal sets with each hand.
The toss is one of the best exercises for developing explosiveness. Lift the medicine ball off the ground using the pinch grip. Once you have deadlifted the ball, toss it to the other hand, catching it with the pinch grip. Always be sure to grip the ball over the top and not underneath the ball. Continue to toss the ball back and forth in this manner until fatigued.
Using a smaller medicine ball, grip the medicine ball with one hand and squeeze as tightly as you can for a few seconds. Repeat with the other hand. When doing this exercise or any pinch grip exercise, be sure not to strain or overuse your thumbs, and in particular, don’t hyperextend your thumb.
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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