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How to Get Stronger Hands

By Linda Kaban

No rock climber ever made it to the top of El Capitan with weak hands. Anything other than a viselike grip would end the adventure before it ever got off the ground. Sports and fitness enthusiasts alike know the value of strong hands. Whether you're going for gold on the Olympic wrestling stage, hitting a cross court forehand on the tennis court or learning to heft a pair of dumbbells, you can benefit from a strengthening program for your hands and, by extension, your wrists.

Compound Movements With Strength Training

Your strength-training performance relies on strong hands. Long-time lifters will tell you to incorporate hand-strengthening moves into a routine that focuses on compound movements. Sporting a six-pack while having weak shoulders and spindly calves will make strong hands redundant; so work on developing your body as a whole. A forward lunge while holding a kettlebell -- ball side up -- at shoulder height will train your shoulders and core to help you stabilize. The forward lunge can also be performed while holding the kettlebell over your head. Both moves train your hands to develop the viselike strength necessary to keep the kettlebell steady.

Isolated Movements

Rock climbers, golfers and football players typically use isolated movements to strengthen their hands. Plunge your hands into a bucket of rice to strengthen your hands as a whole or your fingers individually. Grab handfuls of rice and try to pulverize them within your grip or delicately strive to snare one piece of rice between two fingers. Alternately, grip the handle of a 4- to 6-pound sledgehammer with all the fingers of both your hands. Move your pinky and ring fingers of each hand down the handle, followed by your middle and index fingers. When you reach the bottom of the handle, walk your fingers back up. Hang from a pullup bar to strengthen your hands. After you can comfortably complete three sets of one minute each, hang by your fingertips only.

Tried and True

Some things never go out of style and using a pair of hand grippers to strengthen your hands is one of them. Hand grippers come in static and adjustable styles and you can work your way up from the lightest of tensions to the most challenging over time. Squishy balls, normally used to relieve stress or help with the symptoms of osteoarthritis, are also recommended to increase hand and grip strength by The Arthritis Institute of America.

Program Design

To get stronger hands, you must be dedicated to your training plan and have a solid schedule. For strength training, aim to work out at least two to three days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. The number of sets and reps you perform depends on your fitness level, the exercise and the heaviness of the weights you're using. For isolated hand exercises like finger walking the sledgehammer, perform one to three sets of two to three reps every three days. If you're using the hand grippers, do one to three sets with 10 to 20 reps per hand at least two to three times a week. Be sure to warm up your hands and arm muscles before exercising for five to 10 minutes with light, dynamic cardio. Do wrist circles, for example.

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