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
In this month’s Grip Tip, we will examine a way not only to strengthen the lower arms, but also to toughen the hands and to build some upper-body strength. The Rope Hand-Over-Hand is a good exercise for anyone wishing to gain functional arm strength—for example, the arm wrestler wishing to enhance his back pressure.
To get started you will need a thick rope. If you don’t have access to a thick rope, you can overlap and double the rope you have. You will also need a weight to attach to your rope. This can be in the form of a plate, stack of weights, or a bucket of sand. Because you are gripping a rough rope, you will notice that your hands will naturally start to toughen up.
You will also notice that by grasping onto and squeezing the rope, your crushing strength will increase. The reason for this is because, as I have found through my own research, when you squeeze something that actually gives or compresses, your crushing grip will improve. For example, when you hold onto a thick bar while deadlifting or doing curls or rowing, your holding power and your static grip strength increase; however, you won’t see much improvement in your crushing grip. I have noticed a huge difference in the type of results you achieve between squeezing something solid and unyielding, and something that gives even slightly. With this in mind, let’s get started.
Once you attach your rope to your desired weight, grasp the rope with both hands above the weight, letting it hang vertically. The object is to hold the weight off the ground as long as possible. Using the hand-over-hand method, lower the weight toward the ground without letting it touch the ground. Once you get to the top of the rope and the weight is near the ground, reverse the direction, moving your hands one over the other until the weight is raised back up again and is close to your bottom hand. Repeat the hand-over-hand drill up and down as long as you can.
Holding and moving the rope in this vertical position is a real total arm strength builder— it is sure to give you a big hand up.
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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