If you’re starting a new training program and want to see real results in a short space of time, then it’s crucial to start with the right plan and the right mind set. View the beginning of your training as the chance to lay down some strong foundations for the future of your workouts, and to make sure that everything you add on top of that is starting from the right place.
One of the best ways you can do this is by making sure that your hands are as strong and as tough as they can be. This is something that many bodybuilders and athletes will forget to do, but which can have a profound impact on the quality of your workouts. Get this wrong or just neglect your hands altogether, and you may limit yourself severely.
Why the Hands Are so Important
While few people will go to the gym in order to get ‘firmer hands’ (that would just be weird), hands nevertheless play a very crucial role in the gym which is to hold on to whatever it is that you’re using. Have you ever done as many pull ups as you can, only to fail because you can’t hold on any more? Or have you opted not to use a particular weight perhaps because your hands are starting to hurt from gripping it so tightly (maybe you still have blisters from the last workout)? These are common problems and ones that can damage your workouts in a number of ways.
Conversely though, if you strengthen your hands and your grip, you’ll find that suddenly every aspect of your training becomes easier and that you are far better able to repeat more repetitions without getting quite so tired. You’ll even be able to lift more in many cases, because you won’t be struggling to hold onto the bar – which in turn will mean faster and more noticeable muscle gains.
So that’s why the hands are so important. Now let’s look at what you should do about it…
Strengthening the Hands
The first thing to do is to train the muscles in the hand and in the forearm that will impact on your ability to grip. Do this using wrist curls, by squeezing rubber balls in one hand, and by doing pull ups hanging on by just your finger-tips. Rock climbing is a fantastic way to strengthen your hands as well as your lats and legs, so this is a good hobby to take up.
Another very useful exercise is the rope or towel pull up. Simply take said rope or towel, then weave it over the top of your pull up bar so that half hangs down on either side. Now grasp those ends in your hands and using your grip as well as your upper body strength, attempt to pull yourself up as though you were doing a regular pull up. This will not only require incredibly gripping strength, but it will also help you to toughen the soft skin on your hands more quickly. This is a very useful way to make your hands less sensitive and to make them more effective at gripping the things you want to hold on to. Avoid moisturiser.
To Use Gloves or Not to Use Gloves?
Of course there is always a quicker way to improve your grip and reduce hand pain at the gym – and that’s to wear weight lifting gloves. This will then gift you an additional protective layer of grippy material to help protect your hands and ensure you don’t accidentally let go of the weight.
Seems like a no brainer perhaps, but actually you should be weary of using gloves. The reason? They will protect your hands yes, but that will also mean that the skin never toughens up and that your forearms and your hand muscles don’t develop as much as they could.
When you start out use talcum powder to aid your grip and combat the dreaded sweat. Other than that though, make it harder on your hands rather than easier to encourage them to get stronger just like the rest of you.