Building Your Grip Strength With Hanging Exercises
Few beginner bodybuilders think about the strength of their grips. This is a shame considering that grip strength is among the crucial aspects of effective and efficient strength training – without it, you will be unable to lift heavy weights and move your body around a bar. You can’t even perform your daily life activities well without proper grip strength!
You must then perform hanging exercises that can improve your grip strength. You don’t even have to buy expensive equipment since a pull-up bar at a Powerhouse Gym will suffice for the purpose. You can also perform tasks that have been proven effective for this purpose, such as using your hands to lift bags of groceries instead of using a cart.
Here are a few of the hanging exercises that will not only improve your grip strength but will also extend your muscles. You can even have fun just swinging from one bar to the next, just as you did as a child.
Passive Bar Hang
Start with the basic bar hang, a relaxed position that will feel natural yet still do its job. Just grab onto an overhead bar with an overhand grip, hang on to it for as many minutes as you can, and let your body feel the stretch.
Since only your hands and forearms are being targeted with a bar hang, the rest of your body can be more relaxed. You will also feel your spine stretching and your shoulders opening up, which have its own benefits for overall fitness. You may even observe posture improvements over time.
But don’t just hang there either. You should focus on your fingers, palm and wrists including the feel of the metal in your hands and the stretch in your muscles in these parts. You may even want to incorporate breathing exercises while hanging from the bar.
You must also avoid swinging your body during your first few tries since you’re aiming for a comfortable stance while countering gravity. After you have established a comfortable feeling while hanging from the bar, you can add movements to your exercise.
Active Bar Hang
Movement means added tension to the bar hang exercise that, in turn, means greater grip strength and coordination. When you move while hanging from an overhead bar, you’re now encouraging your body to recruit more muscles.
- Grab the bar with an overhand grip. Find a comfortable position first before proceeding to the next steps.
- Start initiating full-body tension by tensing your muscles including your legs, glutes and abs.
- Be sure to keep your chest up and your shoulder blades down and back to reap the maximum benefits from the active hang.
You can tense your body for as long as you can hold the tension. You can then take a 15-second rest in a passive hang and then going back to an active hang.
Your fingers, hands, and forearms are perform most of the work here obviously. But by adding muscular tension, you’re also training your body from calves to neck to act cohesively. Think of it as a calisthenics workout in a single movement – and we all know the beneficial effects of calisthenics in full-body strength, stamina and coordination.
Of course, you don’t have to be in the gym to perform the passive and active bar hang exercises. You can also incorporate it into your daily life, such as by hanging from towel hands, climbing grips, rock walls, perhaps even from ledges. You just have to check that the structure can hold up your weight before hanging on to it.
When you have developed sufficient grip strength from the first two hanging exercises, the one-arm hang becomes easier to perform even for prolonged periods. The one-arm hang is also crucial in advanced pulling goals, such as the one-arm pull-up.
- Hang from the bar with both of your arms.
- Use an overhand grip, keep your chest open, and your shoulders packed.
- Activate (i.e., tense) every muscle in your body.
- Remove your right hand from the bar and bring it to your side. Maintain the muscular tension in your body.
- Hang on to the bar with your right arm again.
- Relax for a few seconds (i.e., passive hang) and perform the steps with your left arm for the second round.
You should keep your shoulders packed and your body extended during the entire process. You must avoid turning, twisting and swinging your body at any point during the exercise.
When you’re grip strength is at its peak, you will be more confident in swinging and swaying on the monkey bars. You will be able to practice your one-handed grip, enjoy the benefits of dynamic movement, and recruit more muscles into the movements. This time, you can swing and sway, which are as much fun as you can imagine.
Hanging exercises can seem boring so we suggest getting your buddy on a hanging contest – see which one can hang on the longest. Keep in mind that hanging exercises demand consistency more than intensity, too.