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Grip strength is crucial for most daily activities, from opening jars to carrying groceries, from writing to buttoning your shirt, and from cooking to driving. Other than day-to-day activities, grip strength plays a key role in sports. Of course, it is more important for some sports than others.
Grip strength contributes to the improvement of overall hand functionality and endurance, which makes it vital for many physical pursuits. Grip strength does more than just help you improve at activities and sports. According to experts, grip strength can be an important indicator of overall health. Weak grip strength indicates a loss of muscle strength throughout the body. If you work on maintaining and improving your grip strength, you will age more slowly and stay healthier and stronger throughout your body for longer.
Importance of Grip Strength for Skiers
Although all sports are great for physical and mental health, few others come even close to providing as much thrill and exhilaration as skiing does. Skiing is a power-packed sport; it requires considerable core strength for stability, leg strength for maneuvers and turns, and overall fitness for not only enduring challenges but excelling despite them. However, an often overlooked aspect while training for skiing is grip strength.
Anyone with even a little skiing experience will be able to tell you how important grip strength is for this sport. You need a good grip to hold those ski poles. Good grip strength will help you maintain control of the ski poles and yourself, especially while navigating uneven terrain or icy slopes. It will improve the precision of your skiing movements. If you fall, you can regain control faster by grasping onto something.
Strong hands and improved grip will affect your responsiveness as a skier. You will be able to adapt more easily to challenging skiing conditions. In a nutshell, a good grip will help improve your skiing abilities considerably. You won’t even feel as fatigued and will be able to enjoy your après more.
Tools to Improve Your Grip Strength: The Grip Strengthener
This piece of exercise equipment is exclusively designed for improving grip strength, by strengthening the muscles of the hands and forearms. There are different types of grip strengtheners, and most of them have some form of resistance mechanism. Most grip strengtheners are pocket-friendly, which means, you can carry them around with you and work on your grip anywhere and everywhere.
Grip strengtheners are also probably the most inexpensive piece of exercise equipment that you will ever purchase, and they last for years if not a lifetime. If the return is in the form of improved grip strength, it’s a worthwhile investment, don’t you think?
Use grip strengtheners to train the muscles in your fingers, wrists, and forearms. Do this on your commute to work, while scrolling through social media, or even while you make phone calls. You’ll be surprised at how many opportunities you get throughout the day for grip training with this handy piece of equipment.
Exercises for Improving Grip Strength
Apart from using the grip strengtheners, several other exercises (that use more muscles and involve compound movements) can help you develop impressive grip strength. Here are 5 effective and simple exercises that you can use to boost your grip strength:
This is a primal type of exercise, which means the exercise involves moving in a way our ancestors did (typically hunter-gatherers, but in this particular case farmers). Primal exercises mimic the basic human movement pattern.
So what do you need to do for this exercise? Just find some heavy objects that you can lift with your hands, pick up, and walk around. It’s as simple as that. Walk for as long as you can, then put the objects down when you get tired. Rest for a couple of minutes and repeat. You can use dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, a hex bar, any objects around the house or the specially designed farmer walk handles for this exercise. Just remember to maintain proper form while walking.
This is yet another primal exercise. It seems that our ancestors knew what they were doing. All you have to do is hang from a bar with outstretched arms. If you’re a beginner, hold for 20 seconds to half a minute at a time, release, and repeat. This exercise is specifically about the grip, but it also engages your core, shoulders, and back. It helps to decompress the spine and improve shoulder mobility along with enhancing grip strength.
Many skiers swear by the effectiveness of dumbbell curls. Some skiers exclusively use this exercise for improving grip strength. Grip the dumbbells in your hands, and start by standing hip-width apart. Your arms should be relaxed at the sides of your body with the palms facing forward. One at a time, you need to lift the dumbbell, either to your shoulder level, your eyes, or your forehead. Ensure that your elbows are close to your body every time you curl. Lower the dumbbell to the starting position and exhale while you do so. After a few reps with the same hand, switch the hand and repeat the exercise with the other hand.
This dynamic exercise engages multiple muscle groups, and it might just be the perfect one for skiers. It not only helps develop grip strength, but it also works the core, hips, and hamstrings. It will help you build power and improve your cardiovascular strength. All of this is going to help you endure and thrive on the icy slopes.
To perform this exercise, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the kettlebell in front of you with both hands. Keep your back straight, hinge at the hips, bend your knees, and swing the kettlebell between your legs. Then, thrust your hips forward explosively to swing the ‘bell up to the chest level. The weight of the ‘bell and gravity will make it descend for the next rep, so all you need to do is get your body ready to allow it to swing between the legs again. Master the technique with a lighter kettlebell before increasing the weight.
For this barbell, you’ll need the barbell in a landmine setup or securely in a corner. Stand perpendicular to the bar. Bend your knees slightly, ensuring that your back is straight. Lean forward with your torso. Grip the barbell and pull it toward your hip while retracting the shoulder blade. When your elbow is level with your torso, lower the barbell in a controlled movement. This is one rep. For beginners, a moderate rep range (8-12 reps a set) is best. Use a weight that challenges you but allows you to maintain proper form and technique while completing the reps. In this exercise, you will use the thick part of the barbell not designed for lifting, and this will help enhance your grip strength further. The movements involved in this exercise will work the muscles in your upper as well as lower body.
* An interesting tidbit about this exercise: This fantastic row variation is named after John Meadows, the bodybuilder who came up with it. *
Bottom Line: Include Grip Strength in Your Ski Training
Amazingly, these exercises can not only help improve your grip strength and your skiing performance but also your overall fitness. Grip strength is not to be taken lightly, whether it is for skiing or your general health. Include grip-strengthening exercises into your skiing training for a well-rounded routine, which will ensure that you’ll be able to conquer the slopes with confidence and resilience.
* This article is written as a collaborative post.