Grip strength as it relates to health and longevity
The ability to grip an object with force has been shown to be an important predictor of longevity. So much so, that grip strength has been proposed as a biomarker. A biomarker is an indicator of medical status. The following is an excerpt from an article by Richard Bohannon titled Grip Strength: An Indispensable Biomarker for Older Adults, “Based on the review it appears that there is adequate evidence to support the use of grip strength as an explanatory or predictive biomarker of specific outcomes such as generalized strength and function, bone mineral density, fractures, and falls, nutritional status, disease status and comorbidity load, cognition, depression, and sleep, hospital-related variables, and mortality. Based on this evidence and the promotion by others, the routine implementation of the measurement of grip strength can be recommended for older adults in the community and health-care settings.” Link to full article
How to improve your grip strength
Good new is there are MANY ways to do this. The first thing is to determine how strong is your grip. If you want to know exactly how strong your grip is you can get a grip strength measurement meter like this one here. You can also perform simple tests like grabbing anything of weight with a handle such as laundry detergent and seeing how long you can hold it at your side before your grip fails. Or how long you can hold a laundry basket full of clothes. If it doesn’t take long before your grip gives out, then you need to work on improving your grip strength. The following are examples of exercises I use regularly with my clients to help improve their grip.
Loaded carries or Farmers walks
Can be performed with any two objects of equal weight. Most commonly using dumbbells or kettlebells.
- Stand upright holding dumbbells with your arms straight by your sides
- Walk forward as far as you can while holding the objects
- Move for a given distance, typically 50-100 feet, as fast as possible.
Dead hangs from a pull-up bar
Will need a pull-up bar or something you can safely hang from
- Grip the pull-up bar however you want
- Either dead hang with your feet not touching the ground or have your feet on the ground, bend your legs and try to challenge your grip as much as possible
Kettlebell swings or double dumbbell swings
Can be performed with an appropriately weighted kettlebell or two dumbbells
- Start by bending your legs with a tight core and straight back
- Stand up as fast as you can allowing the kettlebell or dumbbells to swing forward
- Think of your arms as ropes that are just keeping the kettlebell or dumbbells in place. Your legs, and hips are the major movers here
*These exercises can be performed throughout the week in combination with other functional compound movements. If you’d like help or advice on how to incorporate these exercises into your workout routine, please feel free to contact me here