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 look at a great way to develop not just grip strength but also strength in the entire lower arm. You will also get to train in a unique way where you have to resist a sudden jolt or deal with sudden impact. This sudden impact will develop the lower arm in a different way from what you are probably used to.
Most lower-arm training calls for you to simply control the object that you are squeezing or trying to lift off the ground. This exercise, however, requires you to adjust to a sudden change in the pressure or work load, developing strength in areas and in ways that you are not normally used to. In fact, this type of training is more usable and will transfer more quickly to sports and real-life situations because sudden changes often happen in these situations. Sudden impact training will also help with injury prevention as the body will be more prepared for these changes. There are countless ways to apply this exercise to your lower-arm training program—let's look at one simple way to get started.
To start, you will need a shovel and some type of small weight. This weight can be a barbell plate (such as a 5-lb. plate), a brick, a small shot, or a small bag of sand. I prefer the small bag of sand since the sand is quiet and does not make noise when it hits the shovel blade. Once you have chosen your shovel and small weight, you are ready to get started.
Place your small weight on the blade of the shovel and grasp the handle of the shovel with both hands. Thrust the shovel slightly upward, barely tossing the weight into the air. As the weight lands on the shovel you will have to adjust to the extra weight that is placed on the hands and wrists and trying to force the shovel blade to the ground. Once you catch the weight, again toss it in the air and catch it on the shovel blade. Continue tossing it over and over and higher and higher as you improve, resisting the sudden impact that tries to force the shovel blade to the ground.
The starting position for the sudden impact exercise—John Brookfield uses a brick to demonstrate this month's Grip Tip. IronMind® | Photo courtesy of John Brookfield.
I would suggest adding weight before your toss gets so high that you stop concentrating on the catch. Tossing it a short distance is fine—adding weight is the best way to keep gaining strength from this drill. You will be surprised how much the extra weight adds to the exercise as you deal with the impact factor. You can also do this drill one hand at a time by choking up on the shovel handle or by using a lighter weight.
As the weight lands back on the shovel blade, resist the impact factor and keep the blade in the air. IronMind® | Photo courtesy of John Brookfield.
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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