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
For many years now I have been trying new exercises and new methods that are effective for building functional strength. Many exercises that I experiment with for a while end up being not very useful for achieving results. However, from time to time I find exercises that are absolute jewels – and many of the best are exercises that I find by accident.
From here I develop them so that they are easy to get started on and produce great results. Any exercise I share with you has the potential for developing great lower arm strength. If I don't like an exercise or feel it is too awkward to perform, I don't ever tell you about it. With this in mind, I will share with you an exercise that I found and developed this year. It is very easy in concept and set-up and also has absolutely unlimited potential for constant increases in lower arm strength.
There are several ways that the finger rolling exercise can be set up and performed, and I will show you what I think is the easiest set-up. A large work bench or table will be perfect for the exercise. You will also need a long beach towel, a long piece of burlap, or even an old sheet which should be overlapped for added strength. Place your towel or piece of cloth on the table so that it is stretched out the length of the table, from one end to the other.
Next you need some type of weight. This can be in the form of plates, bricks, stones, or a bucket of sand – it doesn't matter. I like to use a bucket full of sand with small weights added. The bucket seems to be very stable throughout the movement. From here, place your weight at the far end of the table on top of your towel or cloth. Stand or sit in front of the table at the other end of the cloth, and you are ready to begin.
As always, you will have to play with the exercise to find the right amount of weight to use. Start by grasping the end of the cloth and rolling and manipulating it so that it is rolling up in your hands as the weight moves toward you. This will give you a tremendous burn in your lower arms. Continue to roll up the cloth until the weight is at your end of the table. From here you can simply move the weight back to the starting position, roll out the cloth, reset the weight, and start again.
You will be amazed by this finger rolling exercise. It will build the fingers at every angle as the cloth, which will be thin when you start, gets thicker as you roll it up. To progress, add more weight and more length of cloth; you can even use one hand at a time if you like. Once again, finger rolling is superb for yielding results.
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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