As Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, we can attest that crazy grip strength is essential to amp up our BJJ game. It helps us control our opponents and stabilize our position, giving us the upper hand at all times. Thus, the better your grips are, the more likely you are to dominate your opponent.
Using the gi
When you use the gi for developing grip strength, it is effective because it simulates the actual grips you’ll need for sparring or doing techniques. In these exercises, Gamal focuses on both pulling and grip strength, as well as his core strength. These exercises also work your lats and rear deltoid muscles, making your back stronger as well.
Start off with 5 perfect pull-ups per exercise. Hold for 1 minute after 1 set. If you’re feeling strong, try 3 sets of 10 pull-ups, holding the last pull-up for 1 minute. Extend your arms all the way as you lower yourself, keeping your arms close to your body. Try to avoid flaring your arms out.
Start in a neutral pull-up position, gripping the lapels with both hands. Pull yourself up and slowly lower yourself down.
Cross choke grip
Start in a neutral pull-up position, gripping the lapels, crossing one hand over the other. Pull yourself up and slowly lower yourself down.
Start in a neutral pull-up position, gripping the shoulder areas of the gi with both hands. Pull yourself up and slowly lower yourself down.
Not only is the kettlebell one of the best tools for improving grip strength, it’s also a great way to build cardiovascular endurance and explosive power. Each kettlebell swing also works your wrist, hip, and arm strength. In this exercise, Gamal uses single arm kettlebell swings, alternating each arm after one set.
As you swing the kettlebell, keep your arms fully extended at all times. Make sure you drive with your hips as you swing the kettlebell upward. Feeling adventurous? Widen your grip and try a heavier weight for a bigger challenge. Start off with 3 sets of 10 kettlebell swings, alternating each arm.
Single arm kettlebell swings
Take a kettlebell with the weight of your choice (preferably 8 kg or heavier). Set up your swing stance, gripping the kettlebell firmly with one hand. As you swing, use your hips and momentum for more strength. After 5-10 swings, use the other hand. Alternatively, you can do alternating swings, switching hands after each swing. Don’t forget to squeeze your glutes, lock your knees and hips out.
Using the rope
Probably the toughest exercise in this list, the rope climb requires you to move your whole bodyweight each time you pull yourself up. The friction of the rope also makes it more difficult to climb, as well as the grip you use. Unlike lifting a kettlebell or dumbbell, the rope will always be at an angle, making it more difficult each time you climb.
In this exercise, Gamal starts in a seated position, extending his legs forward. If you find this challenging, you can start by jumping as high as you can, secure a grip and pull yourself up. Depending on the height of your rope, you can start with three sets of three full climbs. You can use two hands to pull yourself up or alternate one hand over the other. Increase the number of sets for a greater challenge, or attach a kettlebell on a weight belt.
Hand over hand seated rope climb
Start in a seated position, gripping the rope firmly with both hands. Keep your legs straight as you pull yourself up, alternating one hand over the other. When you reach the top, come down the same way you went up.
Using the bar
Growing up, we’ve probably swung from the monkey bars or hung from them more times than we can remember. As adults, we can also use these same exercises to build grip, upper body and core strength. Gripping the bar requires a lot of grip strength, especially if you are moving from one side to the other. Doing so makes you hang on for a lot longer as opposed to just pulling yourself up.
In this exercise, Gamal uses a thick pipe as an alternative to monkey bars, alternating hands as he traverses from one end of the bar to the other. Start with one set and then increase to 3 sets of 3 rounds to challenge yourself.
Pull yourself up on the bar with both hands, alternating your hands, reaching as far as you can. Move from one end of the bar to the other, keeping your grips tight at all times.
After 3 to 4 weeks of incorporating these exercises into your BJJ training, you’ll undoubtedly develop unbreakable grip strength! Be sure to take it easy in the beginning, especially if you aren’t used to pull-ups. Remember, all good things take time. You can practice these exercises after BJJ training or in between training sessions for optimal results. Enjoy!