Grip training is critical for climbers. But, everybody can benefit from regular exercise of the small, yet important muscles in the hands and forearms. Indeed, grip strengtheners are one of the best ways to build up endurance and power in your hands without any big, bulky equipment.
That being said, there are hundreds of different grip trainers on the market today, so finding just one to use each day can be a challenge. So, here are the best grip strengtheners available, plus some top tips for choosing the right one for your training sessions.
What Is Grip Strength?
Grip strength is a measure of how much force or tension that the forearm and hand muscles can create. According to Iowa State University, grip strength is often used as a screening tool to assess an individual’s upper body strength and overall well being.
In fact, a stronger grip has been linked to a lower risk of developing heart disease and better heart health. A study that looked at over 150,000 adults in 17 countries around the world actually found that every 11 pound (4.9kg) decrease in a person’s grip strength increased their risk of dying from heart disease by 17%.
They also found that this same strength decrease increased a person’s likelihood of a stroke by 9% and their chances of a heart attack by 7%. Other studies have even found that grip strength correlates with better memory and a lower risk of developing mental health and cognitive-related issues in the long-term.
Benefits of Grip Strength
Using a grip trainer to improve your hand and forearm strength can also make a big difference in your performance in the mountains. Here are some of the benefits of training for increased grip strength:
- Better Muscular Endurance. For climbers, in particular, using a grip trainer leads to better endurance on longer climbs. This is especially true on pumpy, overhanging routes where there are few, if any, places to rest and shake out your hands. So, grip strengthening can help you send more challenging climbs with longer pitches.
- Injury Recovery. Training any muscle helps to strengthen that body part’s connective tissue. As a result, your body is able to recover more quickly after an injury.
- Injury Prevention. In addition to helping you recover quickly from injuries, grip training can also help your body prevent injuries in the first place. By training your grip, you can work out any muscle imbalances in your hands, fingers, and forearms so you’re less likely to get hurt while climbing.
- Improved Overall Strength. If you’re a keen weightlifter, grip strengthening is key. For many lifting athletes, grip strength is a limiting factor that prevents them from reaching their personal goals. With a stronger grip, you can physically carry more weight, avoiding exhaustion for better training sessions in the gym.
Types Of Grip Strengtheners
When shopping for a grip trainer, you have quite a few different options to choose from. Here are some of the most common types of grip strengtheners and how they affect your training routine:
Grip rings are circular tools made from rubber compounds or silicone. They are shaped like a donut and are some of the simplest tools out there for building up grip strength.
To use them, you simply grip the ring in your hand and squeeze. This helps to build “crush strength” which is the ability to grip an item between your palm and fingers.
However, unlike many other strengtheners, you can also hold a grip ring at the tips of your fingers. Doing so allows you to build up “pinch strength” which is particularly helpful for climbers.
Coil strengtheners have a single metal coil and two handles that can be squeezed in one hand. As the device is squeezed shut, the coil provides ample resistance to train your grip.
This is the classic grip training tool. They are popular because they are durable, simple, and easy to use.
Coil strengtheners come in a variety of different resistance levels for progressive training. The main drawback of these tools is that they are not adjustable.
Additionally, they can only be used for crush strength training. But, they are an ideal choice for pure grip strength gains.
This type of grip trainer has two handles and a single spring that can be adjusted to a specific resistance level. They are a good choice for someone looking to train their grip’s crush strength without having to buy a whole range of different coil strengtheners.
Spring-based strengtheners are usually made from plastic, instead of metal, like a coil strengthener. This means that they are often slightly less durable. But, they tend to be the most economical option.
The final type of grip trainer is the articulated strengthener. These are unique because they allow you to train each finger individually.
Doing so has the advantage of ensuring that all of your fingers develop strength-wise, making it easier to avoid any muscular imbalances. Additionally, articulated strengtheners can often be used to develop both crush and pinch strength, which is advantageous for climbers.
However, most articulated straighteners are not adjustable. So, you will need to buy multiple trainers as you get stronger over time.
The Grip Pro Trainer is a simple and effective way to train your finger and hand strength. These grip strengtheners are made from a rubber compound that feels comfortable against your hand, even after frequent use.
They come in three different resistances – 30lb, 40lb, and 50lb (13kg, 18kg, 22kg) – for progressive weight training. Each of the strengtheners is the same physical size, though, so they all feel the same in your hands for more consistent training.
I’ve personally used these grip trainers for years and I love how portable they are. I frequently pack them along on a backpacking trip to help stay on top of my hand strength even when I’m not climbing.
Plus, you can do a variety of different exercises with these trainers to help work out any muscle imbalances in the hands and forearms.
- Very portable
- Different exercise options
- Weight resistance is not adjustable
The IronMind Captains of Crush is a classic grip trainer that’s been on the market since 1995. These strengtheners are built with aircraft grade aluminum handles which are highly durable.
They also feature GR8 springs, which are only found on IronMind’s lineup of strength trainers.
These springs are known for being some of the robust on the market and for their ability to provide the same level of resistance throughout years of use.
The Captains of Crush is the official gripper of the World’s Strongest Man contest. They are calibrated for the precise weight listed on their handles, which is helpful for people looking to take a systematic approach to their grip strength training.
- Very durable construction
- Used in strongman and weightlifting competitions because of their quality
- Precision calibrated to a specific weight
- Weight resistance is not adjustable
- Purchasing a whole set of trainers can get expensive
The Prohands Pro Finger Exerciser is a unique grip trainer because it offers the ability to strengthen each individual finger. Unlike other trainers that focus on overall hand strength, this model isolates each finger.
The design of this strengthener allows for increased dexterity and better endurance for each finger. It is also made from high-quality ABS plastic and stainless steel springs for long-term durability.
Finally, the Prohands Pro comes in five different tension options. This allows you to choose the precise resistance you need to gradually improve your hand and grip strength over time.
- Allows you to train each finger individually
- Made from high-quality materials
- Multiple resistance levels available
- Each individual trainer is fairly expensive
The Fitbeast Hand Grip Strengthener is a comprehensive workout kit designed to improve each aspect of grip strength. It contains five different training tools for a total workout of your hands and fingers.
The hand gripper tool has an adjustable-resistance spring that can be set to as low as 22lbs or as high as 132lbs. This set also includes a hand exerciser that can train each finger individually and a silicone ball stress-reliever.
The included grip ring is made from 100% silicone and is a highly portable option for training on the go. Meanwhile, the silicone resistance band allows you to strengthen the smaller extensor muscles in the forearm to prevent muscle imbalances.
- Comes with multiple tools for grip strengthening
- Has its own travel carry case
- Only the hand grip tool has adjustable resistance
The NIYIKOW Grip Strength Trainer is a fully-adjustable tool for gradually building up strength in your hands. It is made from high-quality TPR – a synthetic rubber compound that’s specifically designed for durability – and a high-strength spring.
This strengthener is highly compact and has a small size that’s useful for staying on top of your training even if you’re traveling.
We particularly like this trainer because it makes little noise, so you can use it while watching TV or while at work without disturbing others.
Plus, unlike many other similar trainers, this model is fully adjustable. You can choose between different weight settings between 22lbs (10kg) and 123lbs (55kg) for more control over your grip training routine.
- Fully adjustable resistance
- Makes little noise so it doesn’t disturb others
- Highly portable
- Doesn’t train individual fingers
- Only one exercise option
A grip strengthener is a great way to train the often-overlooked but very important muscles in your hands and forearms. With the right grip trainer, you can improve your muscular strength and endurance, all while avoiding injuries and increasing your overall health.