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
Brick Lift Grip Challenge
Most of you know that I lift bricks in a variety of ways. I use them to develop upper body strength on a regular basis. Several of the exercises are used to develop hand strength: they can be used to train the grip, or used as a feat of strength or even as a challenge. Here is my favorite lift for the grip.
First of all, you will need some bricks and perhaps a work bench. The weight of the bricks doesn't matter unless you are competing with others. Then, of course, you will want to know the size and weight of the bricks. Start by placing one of the bricks lengthwise on its narrow side on the bench; its flat sides will be facing right and left. Now stack some bricks crossways on top of the bottom brick, only this time the large flat parts of the top bricks are resting on each other, stacked on top of the narrow side of the bottom brick. As you place the bricks on top and at one end of the bottom brick, leave just enough room on the bottom brick to get a good hand hold.
Once you have your bricks balanced on top of one another, grab hold of the bottom brick as though you were going to squeeze a hand gripper. Your thumb is over the top of the bottom brick and your four fingers are curling underneath it. You should have just enough room on the brick to get a good hold. Squeeze tightly and lift the stack of bricks off the bench. Be sure to lift slowly and with good control to keep the bricks balanced. Add as many bricks as you can handle. You may want to place your other hand on top of the stack to secure them. Be sure not to cheat by placing your other hand on the side of the stack, though.
This is a very challenging lift, building the crushing strength of the hand, as well as the forearm and wrist. You may notice that the edge of the brick cuts slightly into your hand as you squeeze. Try to live with this because it will also toughen your hands. However, if it is restricting you on the lift, you can place a paper towel or something very thin over the brick.
You will learn to love this lift because it is fun and challenging. It will greatly improve your crushing force and your wrist strength. Be sure to add more bricks as you get stronger and also be sure to train both hands equally.
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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