My muscles have been feeling all kinds of sore in the past few weeks of training on the TRX, but the biggest hindrance I face is weak hands. The desire is there — I know my body can handle it and my mind is in the right place, but my grip gives out on me and I feel this close to letting go and collapsing on the ground.
I use my hands all day for typing, but there’s little manual labor involved in my life. Those who know me well wouldn’t peg me for the type of gal out shoveling gravel or lifting heavy rocks. Even when I moved in the past from apartment to apartment to our house, I was the one carrying the box of towels or clothes; once I warmed up, I’d step up to hauling the box of, say, dishes, and maybe, just maybe, the box of books. And any activity I participate in rarely involves “sports,” in the sense that I’m tackling or catching balls or climbing walls. (The last time I went rock climbing was 15 years ago.) I usually feel my lower body is in charge, squatting, kicking, climbing and moving me through life, while my upper half is just along for the ride.
However, if I continue weight and resistance training, I need to get a grip. And while my personal trainer, Shane Kinney, says my grip strength will improve as we continue training on the TRX, I’m feeling like my body strength is outpacing my hand strength. To speed things up, I asked Shane what I can do — no need to be ripping phone books in a few months, but I’d like to be able to run through my reps without having to stop to give my digits a break. There are grip/stress balls and hand exercisers out there that can help, but my favorite suggestion from Shane was a martial arts trick (among many cool things, he holds three black belts in karate) with a tennis ball and bucket of rice.
1) Fill a clean bucket with long-grain rice.
2) Place a tennis ball on the pile of rice. Push down on the ball, squeezing and twisting it as you penetrate the rice, working your way to the bottom of the bucket.
As your grip strength improves, try filling the bucket with sand instead of rice.
When I searched for more information on this technique, I found out it’s also popular with mixed martial artists and baseball players, particularly pitchers, using open and closed fists to grab the rice. There are videos available on YouTube if you search “rice bucket,” but here’s one (without the tennis ball) that I found helpful.
I’d love to hear what tricks you’ve used to improve your grip strength. Post your comments below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.