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
Finger Walking With Boards
In this Grip Tip I will show you a homemade exercise that will develop tremendous finger strength and dexterity. It is very deceptive in its difficulty. It is a relative of another exercise, however much different in some ways. All you need to perform the exercise are a couple of boards of equal length. I suggest two 2 x 4's of about 40 inches in length. If you have my book Mastery of Hand Strength, you will remember the exercise with a sledgehammer I called finger walking. In that exercise, you hold the sledgehammer in front of you with the head of the hammer towards the ground and the shaft of the hammer pointing upward. You are holding the shaft near its end with the finger tips of both hands; you then manipulate the shaft upward with your fingers, "walking" your finger tips along the shaft until the head of the hammer has reached your finger tips.
Finger walking with boards is similar except that the exercise gets much harder as your fingers get close to the bottoms of the boards. To start, stand with the two boards held evenly together in front of you. The boards should be off the ground and at about chest level. You should be holding the boards with your finger tips. Start to "walk" the boards with your fingers so that the boards move upward, with your fingers moving toward the bottoms of the boards. You will quickly notice that what started out as a fairly easy exercise has become very hard as the boards get higher and your fingers approach the bottoms of the boards.
Once you have your fingers on the bottoms of the boards, try to "walk" back up to the top of the boards, or in other words, so that the boards are moving toward the ground where they originally started. It takes great finger strength and control to keep the boards together throughout the entire movement, especially when your fingers are near the bottoms of the boards. At first, it may feel almost impossible to hold and control the boards throughout the entire movement. Continue to stick with this exercise and you will yield great results.
Be cautious not to let the boards slip apart and hit someone else or yourself. As you get stronger, you can use longer boards to make it more difficult, and you can add a third board. As you can see, you can continue to make great gains from this exercise and not get bored.
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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