If you want to avoid muscle loss or wasting time in the gym you need to pay attention to your body’s natural early warning sign. Grip strength is one of the easiest and earliest ways to detect when your training is about to become unproductive, long before the negative side effects start to become apparent. It doesn’t have to be a surprise however. In this video, I’m going to show you the best way to test the strength of your grip and hands without having to spend a lot of money or take up a lot of time.
First, why is grip so important. We know that your grip strength correlates to your performance on the bigger compound lifts. Due to the irradiation effect of a strong grip to more of the proximal muscles, as well as the stability provided to the entire kinetic chain that starts with a strong grip we will always need to strengthen our hand strength if we want to realize our true potential in the gym.
Next, the interesting thing about grip strength is that it is driven perhaps more than any other element by neuromuscular efficiency. When your body is not up to maximal function, like when tired or ill, the strength of the grip is one of the first and most direct ways to realize this. Attempting to squeeze your hand and make a tight fist when feeling this way will show you just how impossible it is to obtain max strength.
The same thing happens when you are approaching a state of under recovery. Many times, people will continue to add new things to their weight training regimens because they want to try something they’ve seen. The issue comes in when nothing else is replaced. Continuing to add more and more volume to a muscular system that already has reached it’s capacity to recovery from is a way to send your body into a deeper state of woe and make it harder for you to see new gains.
You will see this in the form of decreased strength, a lack of desire to train, a plateau in new muscle hypertrophy or strength that seems to go on forever. All of this is avoidable if you just start testing the strength of your grip on a daily basis with a 2 minute procedure that you can do with an ordinary bathroom scale. The hand grip dynamometer shown in the video is the gold standard used by physical therapists for measuring grip strength but it is expensive and as you’ll see, not needed to get a fairly accurate snapshot of where you stand right now.
Take the non-digital bathroom scale and support it on one knee. Position your hand on it so that your thumb is pointing up and your fingers wrap around the scale to squeeze it. Squeeze the scale as hard as you can and take note of the number in pounds that you generate. The key from here is now to consistently measure yourself and look for comparisons.
If you see a drop of more than 10 percent from your baseline number then you want to take action to intervene on your current workout. You may need to take a reload week. You may need to decrease the volume of your overall work or even just lighten the loads that you are using to give your central nervous system a break. Even if this takes about a week or so to bounce back to baseline, you are going to be far better off for doing this than you would have been by banging away at your workouts in this state of under recovery.
The key to avoiding this beyond just consistent measurement is to follow a training plan that doesn’t have you do more than what your body can recover from. All of the ATHLEAN-X programs available at the link below are designed to get you training to the edge but still allow your body to build itself up to be bigger and stronger from workout to workout.
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