Today I'm going to address a pretty common question that folks have with regard to grip training. And that is, how often to train the grip, and WHEN to do it.
Before I provide my thoughts on this, allow me to go on record by saying that grip training is one of the most enjoyable parts of my workout. I train my grip as hard as I do any other body part, and I train it using exercises that work the body as a WHOLE, which is pretty much what I do for all exercises/body parts. I talk more about this in Fast and Furious Fitness.
Grip training provides numerous benefits. Train the grip hard, and you'll do better on virtually all your exercises, especially the "pulling" exercises. Your forearms will increase tremendously in size and strength, and you'll never have to worry about suffering from the much dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome (which is the bane of many people in this day and age).
And the good part about it is that training the grip is not rocket science. In fact, you can do a lot of the exercises I advocate, and build a super strong grip without even training the forearms or fingers "directly". It's also enjoyable - and lends itself to progress that you can actually "feel" in each workout (those of you that do train the grip hard know what I'm referring to). And herein lies the catch - because it's uncomplicated and enjoyable to do, you run the risk of actually overdoing it, and overtraining.
I recommend direct grip work only AFTER your regular workouts, and not during them. The reason for this is that if you pre-exhaust your grip before your other exercises (that also require a strong grip), your performance will naturally go down on those exercises. I've done this before myself - I've done grip work before my pull-ups, and noticed how my numbers go down (drastically, for some variations) if I've pre-exhausted the grip. So, train your grip AFTER your workout for best results.
Second, make sure NOT to overdo it - do NOT think you can train your grip super hard each workout, and still hope to keep improving. It can't be done, and I know this from personal experience. In fact, much like with any other body part, your performance/gains will actually start to go DOWN if you train the grip excessively, so beware of this. A good thumb rule would be to train the grip hard three times a week and no more.This is by no means written in stone - but it's a general rule that those who train regularly would do good to abide by.
Third, and most importantly - it is VERY EASY to overtrain the grip - so easy that you might not even realize it. Make sure not to do 10 sets of timed hangs after that pull -up session daily, or if you do so, only do so twice a week. The forearms are used a lot in daily life as well, so it makes sense to let them rest, recover and grow - just like the rest of your body.
Keep those three guidelines in mind while training the grip, and you'll be on the right track. I cover this topic in far more detail in Fast and Furious Fitness - be sure to grab a copy!
Alright, enough for this email. Gotta get back to work on a new "Fast and Furious" project I'm working upon. . .
Be well, and if you train today - make it a GREAT one!
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