5 Exercises that Increase Hand Grip Strength

5 Exercises that Increase Hand Grip Strength

Improve hand strength with these exercises

Woman trying to open a jar of pickle

That pickle jar has become your nemesis. The last time you tried to wrestle it open, it won. And your sandwich went pickleless. Such small, simple tasks depend on hand and wrist strength. “Hands are the key to many of our daily activities,” says Cris Dobrosielski, a consultant and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise and owner of Monumental Results. “Hand strength provides the ability to function and be independent while performing a variety of daily tasks from doing lawn work to, yes, opening pickle jars.” At his San Diego training facility Dobrosielski works with many seniors, and he sees how some are frustrated because they can’t perform everyday tasks, such as opening cans with a manual can opener. “Having stronger hands means being able to interact and play with your grandkids,” he says. “That means everything from putting together toys to lifting kids in and out of shopping carts. Strong hands give you confidence and freedom.”

Dobrosielski recommends these five exercises to improve hand strength:

Flex and Extend
Make a fist and squeeze as hard as you can; hold for two or three seconds. Then open your hand and extend your fingers as long and as wide as possible. Do three sets of five to 10 reps.

Wrist Curls and Reverse Wrist Curls
Grab a light dumbbell, about 2 or 3 pounds. Sit up straight in a chair and drape your wrist off the edge of your knee, palm up, while holding the dumbbell. Flex your wrist up, using only the wrist, not any other part of your arm. Do three sets of 10 reps. Turn your wrist over, palm facing down. Flex the wrist upward again for three sets of 10 reps. Repeat on your other arm.

Mid Row
Securely attach a resistance band to a stable object, then step back with your arm extended in front of you, holding the band until tension just begins. Pull the band back toward your body, bringing your elbow by your rib cage. Do three sets of 10 reps on each arm, gradually increasing resistance on the band as your strength increases.

Modified Push-up
Start on your hands and knees, with your toes raised off the ground. Your back should be long and flat and your arms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Then press into the ground using your arms, chest, and shoulders to get back up to the starting position. Do three sets of five, with a goal of eventually doing three sets of 15.

Modified Plank
Start on your hands and knees, with your back long and flat. Walk your feet back, eventually getting on your toes. Keep your back flat, not arched or rounded. Hold the position for five to 10 seconds while keeping your midsection stable. Return to the starting position; hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Do three sets of five to 10 seconds, working your way up to three sets of 20 seconds.