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Increasing Grip Strength
Powerful grips can change the course of a match
Grip strength is an element of grappling ignored by the average grappler due to focus on the numerous other aspects of Jiu Jitsu that can make one better. We often assume that grip strength does not increase similar to that seen in larger muscle groups. This is furthest from the truth, as grip strength can increase dramatically and should be trained on a regular basis. By improving grip strength, we can increase our success in tournaments especially after exhausting our grips.
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There are various ways of increasing grip strength that can benefit your grappling. Overall, there are two muscle groups to consider when looking to improving grip strength: the fingers and the forearms. These two groups of muscles work synergistically when gripping lapels, sleeves, and arms. Although most exercises improve strength in both, there needs to be extra focus on the finger muscles as well if we want to have unbreakable grips.
The exercises to improve grip strength are rather easy. A lot of the exercises utilize only a gi and a partner, which we should all have if we practice Jiu Jitsu. At our academy, we go through a series of three sets of an exercise in which each set utilizes a different grip.
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To do this exercise, you should lie down flat on the ground while your partner stands directly above your chest. The exercise requires the top person to have a solid base so that they don’t tip over, which can easily occur. Start by grabbing your partners sleeves and then do a pull up as fast as you can and then go back down slowly. Do a minimum of six and a maximum of twelve repetitions per set. The first set will utilize standard fist grips, the second grip will be on the internal seam of the gi sleeves with your thumbs pointing upward and out, and the last grip is the pistol grip.
Another way of increasing grip strength if you like lifting in the gym or at home utilizes a towel. You can do a lot of different workouts that you normally do in the gym but adding a towel will help with grip strength as well. For example, if you do bent-over rows with a dumbbell or barbell, wrap a small towel around where your hand will go and do the exercises the same way. You can do this with a pull up as well.