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Hang On For Dear Life!

Why grip strength is important for longevity.


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When people think about getting stronger and looking good, grip strength is usually not at the top of their list. They want bigger quads, biceps, a cut upper back, and a six pack. What if I told you having a stronger grip would lead you to those things and more?!


Think of all the movements you do in the gym. Which movements require you to hold on to something? Which ones don’t?


Maybe squats and push ups don’t require much grip. 


What about deadlifts, pull ups, ring rows, toes to bar, farmer carries, muscle ups, rowing, curls, rope climbs… you get the idea! You have to hold on to be able to do the movement and your grip strength needs to be strong enough to add more weight so you can get stronger over time! 


There are a few benefits in and out of the gym of having a strong grip (1):

  • Live longer 
  • Improved quality of life 
  • Lift more weight 
  • Hold on longer for gymnastic movements


Let’s start with LIVING LONGER


I have met and trained hundreds of people. People who have sedentary lifestyles have poor grip strength. People who have active lifestyles can usually hang on a lot longer. Take these two clients:


Client A: 

Female, 37 years old, and works from home. She sits most of the day and is inactive outside of work as well.

                  Max hang time from the pull up bar: 7 seconds. 


Client B: 

Female, 56 years old, and works as a massage therapist and nurse. Outside of work, she gardens, bakes bread and walks everywhere. 

                 Max hang time from the pull up bar: 58 seconds 


They both are healthy and didn’t participate in any kind of fitness routine when they first came to us. 


Will client B live longer because she can hang from a pull up bar longer? Generally speaking, her lifestyle supports longevity and her grip strength is a reflection of that. The processes needed to improve grip strength have the potential to lengthen and improve her life. 


A meta-analysis by the National Society of Medicine produced the following results:

“Handgrip strength has a predictive validity for decline in cognition, mobility, functional status and mortality in older community-dwelling populations.” (2)


The better the grip strength, the more mobility and brain function a person will have as they age. 


How can grip strength improve the quality of your life?


The silly example of being able to open your own jar of peanut butter should be enough to get the point across, but let’s look at a couple other examples:

  • Carrying bags of groceries 
  • Using tools around the house 
  • Moving furniture 
  • Being active and playing sports 
  • Changing your tire
  • Painting your house 
  • Putting on your shoes. 


Better grip strength can be a sign your overall quality of life is better. Better grip strength can give you a sense of independence because day to day tasks are easier.



Think about this: are your legs or your forearms stronger? Here is the tricky part: your forearms hold the bar in a deadlift and are the most common limiting factor in a deadlift and other lifts like cleans and rows. What if your grip was stronger? Do you think you might be able to lift more weight for more reps? I think so too! 



The same thing goes for gymnastic movements. If you can’t hang from the pull up bar due to poor grip strength, you probably won’t be able to do a pull up either. Working on hanging and improving your grip strength will lead you to stronger forearms, lats, and back muscles to lead you to pull ups! 



Learn how to improve your grip strength today by talking to one of our coaches!