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
Sandbag Wrist Curls
This month we will look at an exercise that will work the lower arm muscles in a little different way than they are used to. We will use and combine a claw-type grip with a range-of-motion technique. This drill will place stress on each individual digit of the fingers, as well as the wrists and forearms. We will also use a traditional exercise movement known as the wrist curl—only this time we will perform the movement with a twist.
To get started you will need a small sandbag, not the large duffle bag type, but the type used by the highway department. You can usually find these at a local hardware store for about fifty cents. They are a very strong mesh type of material. You may want to purchase a couple of them and place one bag inside the other to reinforce the sandbag. Now put sand or dirt inside the bag. There is no need to buy sand as any type of soil will loosen up and work inside the bag. The mesh sandbag will usually hold close to seventy pounds of sand when full. You will have to experiment a bit to find the desired amount of weight to use for the exercise.
To start, sit on a bench or chair and grasp the sandbag with a claw-type grip. Extend the bag and your wrists over your knees as if you were going to perform a regular wrist curl. The only difference is that you must perform the wrist curls while holding the bag in a claw-type grip. Start slowly as you extend your wrists with the bag. You may want to start out by using a short range of motion. This is fine and also encouraged as you get a feel for the exercise. If the weight of the sandbag or the position of the sandbag feels too heavy or feels as if it is straining your wrists, set it down or drop it if necessary.
Once you get used to the movement, perform wrist curls while clawing onto the bag. Use as much range of motion as you comfortably can. You can also try backward wrist curls while clawing onto the bag as well. This exercise will give you a huge advantage in your sport or activity.
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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