Grip strength is a huge part of Judo. Whether you are trying to pass someone’s guard, obtain back control, or keep them from doing so to you, a deciding factor could very well be your ability to hold onto their GI for dear life, or keep wrist control until necessary. In Judo training especially, getting and keeping good grips is a key success factor in the majority of situations and throws. Keeping clear control of your opponent is a large part of Judo training, and a large part of that is obtaining the correct grips on their GI or lapel.
1.Grippers (Crush Grip)
Crushing grip is most commonly used with old school grippers. I’m sure all of you have seen or owned one of these grippers at one point in your life.While the local sports store usually carried simple, low resistance grippers, several companies have developed some heavy duty grippers that guarantee to challenge anyone’s crushing strength. Our favorite is called Captains of Crush, from Iron mind. They have a variety of different grippers that range from 40lbs to 365lbs, meaning it takes 365lbs of force to close their toughest gripper. These are great between sets at the gym, off days, at the end of sessions, in the car, on the couch or while you surf the net.
2. Dead lift
Dead lifts are one of my favorite exercises to build strength throughout the posterior chain of muscles. Upper back, lower back, gluts and hamstrings all get worked during this lift, but grip strength, or the lack of it, commonly is the weak link. Lots of people use lifting straps for this reason. Lifting straps take the grips out of the equation and allow most lifters to pull more weight. While that may be beneficial for power lifters, I will recommend not using them for Judo players. Holding heavy loads puts a unique stress on the hands and forearms that forces the body to adapt and get stronger.
Every pulling exercise starts with your grip, so basically every row, pull up or similar uses the hands to connect with the resistance. In order to maximize grip strength, we vary the handles that we use to challenge the hands, fingers and forearms. Some of our favorites are Fat Gripz, Rolling Thunder, GI Grips, Eagle Claws and steel pipes. By simply changing the handle, a simple pull up can become incredibly difficult. Mix it up, try new things and the good news is that these handles are relatively inexpensive. Perfect for any home gyms or fight gyms with little to no space.
4. Rope Climbing
Rock climbers are notorious for having strong grips and hand strength. Their sport requires it and challenges their grip in a variety of ways. While deadlifts challenge a lifter with large, heavy loads, climbing involves odd holds, fingertip strength and endurance to hold on overtime. Climbing a rope uses similar muscles to rock climbing, but in a different way. The thicker rope is great for developing the strength to hold a wrist, forearm, ankle, etc. If you have access to a rope, use it frequently. It is an old school, simple exercise that yields huge benefits.
5. Carrying Heavy Weights
Farmer carries are most commonly seen in strongman competitions. Guys pick up huge weights in each hand and walk for distance. I love the simplicity of this exercise and recommend using it along with the other exercises. Not only does it build hand strength, but it also challenges the postural muscles, hips, core and legs.
Lie face-down on the floor, hands at shoulder-width palms on the ground, toes driving into the floor. Think about trying to grab a handful of the ground, as this will fire up the muscles in your forearms important for grip strength. Push yourself up, so your hands are under your shoulders, and your body is a straight line from the back of your head down to your heels. Slowly lower yourself down so your chest touches the floor.
7. Plate Pinching (Pinch Grip)
This is done by setting up two or more plates smooth-sides-out and then lifting them off the floor in a pinch grip. Common combinations include 4-tens, 2-25’s, and 7-fives. If you can pinch 5-tens, 2-35’s, or 8-fives, then you have an excellent grip. If you can pinch 6-tens, 2-45’s, or 3-25’s, then you are world class.
8. Fat Gripz
One of the best bang-for-your-buck pieces of equipment when it comes to grip training is Fat Gripz which can be used with any standard barbell, dumbbell or pull up bar. Unless you are Andre the Giant your hands shouldn’t be able to close around the Fat Gripz, allowing you to train your open grip.
I recommend using them periodically since this grip trains fairly easily and without as much constant attention. Once or twice a month add them your standard deadlifts and try doing both double overhand and alternating grip for heavy singles. They also work really well for chin ups and dumbbell rows as well.
9. Fingertip Push-ups
In grip training, we do a lot of grabbing and squeezing. In order to produce a grip forged from iron, it’s important to counter that movement. Much how training a plank strengthens both the abdominal and low back muscles, fingertip push-ups will challenge your extensors—the muscles that open your fingers—in addition to the flexors, not to mention your tendons and other connective tissues.
10. Bar Hangs
Hanging from a bar challenges your grip muscles to support the entirety of your body weight, as opposed to just a fraction. That’s why most commercial grippers will never be as good as hanging.
Furthermore, because of the demand to the arms, shoulders, back, and core, hanging from the bar unlocks far more than just grip strength. It increases your raw upper-body power. Try it with one hand for an extra challenge, and pretty soon you’ll be asking people “How long ya hang?” instead of “How much ya bench?”