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
Plate Curling for Men
This exercise can be a fun and challenging way to build your finger strength as well as your whole arm. This little jewel was also used from time to time by professional strongmen in their stage acts as a feat of strength. It can be a little bit hard on the fingers, so you will want to start slowly and not try to test your limits on this one. All you need to start is a few weight plates. It doesn’t really matter what kind of plates you have; they can be Olympic-style, the old-style iron plates, or even the sand type.
Start with a light plate to get a feel for the movement. Place one of your fingers through the hole and lift the plate to arm’s length against your side. From here, curl the plate up to your chest, just like doing any other type of curls. Be careful not to let your finger bend too far backward as you curl the plate. I would suggest using either your index or middle finger to start the exercise.
Also remember that the thicker the plate is, the harder it is going to be to curl the plate because your finger will not come out as far through the hole, which will reduce the leverage. Once you find the right plate, simply curl away for reps. You can rotate back and forth from hand to hand, changing from finger to finger until you work all four fingers on each hand. You may have to go to a smaller plate to curl with the last two fingers; this is fine. Remember, safety is the prime concern.
Plate Curling for Men is a great one for arm wrestlers or rock climbers. As I have always said, it is important to work your digits individually from time to time. This will give you better overall strength on many tasks that you will face. One note of interest on this exercise: I remember hearing that the old-time arm wrestler and strongman Mac Batchelor was able to lift a 100-lb. plate with his middle finger through the hole and curl it several times in this manner.
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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