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
Table Curls with Plates
For this Grip Tip we will look at an exercise that I came up with one day when I was messing around in my back yard. It’s funny—that seems to be the place that many of my best ideas start. I have worked with countless ideas and gadgets in the back yard.
To begin, all you need are some weights and a table. The table can actually be a shop table or even a weight bench or a carpenter’s bench. We will look at a form of the table curl. The table curl may be something that many of you have probably heard of, but you may not be sure what it is. The traditional table curl is an exercise that arm wrestlers have used for many years. The object of the table curl is to place your arm on a table or bench with a resting dumbbell in your hand. From here, you curl or pull the dumbbell up toward your chest, then repeat the motion by letting the dumbbell go back to the table as your arm stretches back to the starting position. This movement is a great exercise for arm wrestlers because it simulates the actual pulling movement of some arm wrestling techniques.
Curling a dumbbell up and down from a table builds up your wrists and forearms. However, we are going to take this exercise one step further and add a little more hand, finger, and wrist training to the movement.
To start, grab a plate, with your thumb on top and your four fingers on the bottom, and let your arm lie on a table or bench. As always, start with a light weight until you get a feel for the exercise. Once you are in the starting position, pull or curl the plate up toward your chest until the plate is pointing straight up in the air. Then lower the plate back down to the starting position. Continue to curl the plate up and down. If you want to make it harder, keep the plate from touching the table on the downward movement.
Table Curls with Plates will work your fingers intensely, as the extended plate works against your wrists and fingers, trying to bend them down and back. Of course, the heavier, larger plates will make the movement more difficult. You can also use two plates pinch-gripped together to make things even tougher. As always, work both arms evenly to develop equal 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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