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
Stick to It
In this month's Grip Tip, we will look at a new way to not only develop your grip strength but also the entire upper body. This drill will help strengthen all of your pulling muscles. It is also another exercise that does not have much leverage advantage and may be more difficult than it appears. There are several variations of the exercise, and we will look at the easiest way to implement the training.
For this exercise you will need a barbell plate and a rod or bar. The best type of weight to start with is a 45-lb. Olympic plate. You can either use a heavy stick or a dowel or a steel bar. The length of the bar can vary, but a 4-foot or 5-foot bar will work best. The drill can be done on a concrete floor with some rubber mats, or outside on the grass or dirt. Once you have chosen your setting, bar, and weight, stand the bar up in the vertical position with one end of the bar through the hole of the plate, which is resting on the ground. Be sure that the bar is all the way through the hole and touching the ground.
John Brookfield demonstrates a novel exercise for all the pulling muscles as well as the hands and the wrists. The higher you place your hands on the stick, the more difficult the exercise. IronMind® | Photo courtesty of John Brookfield.
With a steady grip on the bar, start to drag the plate by moving the bar. You will have to adjust your grip and where you place your hands on the bar: the higher up the bar your grip is, the more difficult it is to move and drag the weight around, and the closer your grip is toward the weight and the bottom of the bar, the easier it is to move the weight. You can move the weight in different directions, forward and backward, and even side to side.
You will quickly find that this is not an easy task and it will make you really have to dig in with your lower arms to move and manipulate the weight. If the weight is too heavy to move, use a smaller plate or place your weight on a smoother surface. If the exercise is too easy, you can add another plate. As you improve, add more resistance either by adding more weight or using a longer bar. Strive to continue moving and dragging the weight around, pushing yourself.
You will also notice that this movement works the hands and wrists from a wide variety of angles, which you will not get from most other training. Have fun with this one and be sure to stick to it.
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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