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3 Ways to Use Towels for a Monster Grip

Do you dedicate time to training your grip?

If you are not including Grip Strength training in your program in a variety of forms, you’re are making a mistake and holding yourself or your athletes back.

Not training the grip specifically will lead to weak hands and that will lead to slipped tackles, dropped passes, missed rebounds and missed deadlifts, among other things.

You need to train your grip regularly, in some way. One way to do that is by dedicating time to performing specialized grip movements such as plate pinches, thick wrist roller lifts, and gripper training.

These forms of grip training are great and will certainly lead to a strong set of wrists, hands, fingers, and thumbs.

However, there are draw backs to doing specialized grip lifts. One of the main draw backs is that many coaches and athletes do not have much specialized grip equipment, due to their cost.  Unless you know how to make your own strength training equipment, this difficulty can be a hard one to overcome.

Another thing about performing specialized grip training movements is that it can eat up precious time.  When time is limited, it can be tough to work the grip stuff in without sacrificing the other core components that should be in your program for building strength, power and speed.

Because everyone’s time is limited, it is important to work toward making grip a part of the other lifts you do during the workout. When you combine grip with your full body training, this is called integration.

I would like to point to an implement that you most likely already have and that you can use in order to incorporate grip integrations into your routine.  This item is cheap, resilient, and versatile, and it works great in combination with your kettlebells.

Towels for Grip Training

Towels are great for building grip strength.  Because they can be folded and molded into so many different positions, towels can be used in conjunction with other implements you are probably already using.  This enables to train your grip not isolation, but rather integration: the entire body is being worked but the grip remains one of the limiting factors in the movement.

Here are 3 ways to use towels in your training to emphasize the grip component of a given lift.

Wrapping

Towels can be wrapped around the handle of a kettlebell or barbell, instantly making the lift more difficult and putting an increased emphasis on grip strength for that lift.  Kettlebells, barbells, and dumbbells are great for incorporating the wrapping method with towels.

Thin Towel Tightly Wrapped Around a Kettlebell Handle

Towel Wrapped Around a Handle

Wrapping the towel causes the handle to increase in size, making it tougher to hold onto. With the towel in this position, the main type of grip strength being trained is support grip, stressing the fingers the most.

Looping

The towel can also be looped around an implement, changing the way the grip is oriented during the movement.  While still stressing the fingers, there is also an angle change for the wrist.

Towel Looped Around Kettlebell Handle

Towel Looped Around Kettlebell Handle

Depending on the thickness of the towel, you can end up with a variety of material sizes. For instance, if using a relatively new, and high quality towel, the gripping area can become very thick. Smaller towels will be thinner in your grip.

Also, if using a very short towel with the looping technique, you can end up with a very small gripping surface.  This can result in a very challenging lift, isolating two or three fingers, and bringing about the need to squeeze the towel extremely hard.

Draping

The draping method is a little bit different.  While the other two implements change the size, form and rigidity of the gripping surface, the draping method’s purpose is elimination of friction.  By covering the gripping surface with a towel, the slickness of the implement is increased dramatically.

towel draped over kettlebell handle training grip with a towel on a kettlebell handle

I dare you to try these quick grip lifts out. The Kettlebell in the pictures above is 95-pounder and it is pretty freakin’ tough to perform swings using these towel wrapping techniques. Make sure when you do them you are standing far away from any mirrors. The last thing you want to do is start out the New Year with 7 years of bad luck.

Speaking of the New Year, I will be coming out with something very soon that is going to help you accomplish all of your GRIP GOALS in 2010.

I’m tired of hearing people tell me that they are spinning their wheels in the gym and not getting anywhere, so I developed something that I think is going to make a huge difference.

I can’t tell you exactly what it is right now – I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet – but let’s just say that it is BIG.

I will have more information for you soon enough. I have been working on it all Christmas weekend and am putting the finishing touches on it.

Check back this week for the big announcement.

In the mean time, all the best in your training,

-Jedd-

More Grip Training posts here: How to Improve Grip Strength

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26 Responses to “3 Ways to Use Towels for a Monster Grip”

  1. Coach mike Says:

    I like to go over to the utility sink and get a towel wet then wring it out hard. Repeat until you have nothing to give!

  2. tnthudson Says:

    Good stuff. I did some grip this weekend using the hammer…I used the exercises in your nail bending book. I’m going to try to do grip at least once/week and then get into doing nailbending at least twice/month. I noticed my fingers, hands and forearms were weak and in pain after kettlebell swings and deadlifts, so it was time to bring grip work back in.

  3. Jerry Shreck Says:

    Jedd,

    Great post! I also just posted a towel training post on my site today. Great minds think alike. Good thing they are different exercises!

  4. Jedd Says:

    Done that one before as well. Hits every muscle in your hands.
    -Jedd-

  5. Jedd Says:

    TNT, Yep, sounds like it was time to start gripping again. Hammers are a great way to get back into it.

    Jerry, nice towel post, dude! They are so versatile and useful for getting your grip going!

    -Jedd

  6. brent Says:

    I’m waiting for the big surprise to be revealed. looking forward to it.

    brent

  7. Derek Peruo Says:

    Question for the Crew:

    I’ve started using towels to improve my grip strength without adding additional training days (thank you, Jedd), but there is a major difference between what I can, say, deadlift with a normal 1-inch bar and what I can deadlift with the bar wrapped in a towel.

    How might you guys incorporate towel work into a deadlift routine without sacrificing strength gains in the rest of the body?

    Right now I complete all my working sets of a particular exercise, then drop the weight on the bar, wrap a towel around it and bang out an additional 2 or 3 sets to really hit the forearms.

    Does that make sense, or is there a better option?

  8. Jim Smith Says:

    Derek,

    Thanks for posting. You are thinking along the right lines. You do not want to sacrifice full body strength gains at the expense of the grip. Good job.

    What you are doing sounds great. You could also employ the towel wrapping technique on rows, pull-ups, chin-ups, side-pulls and other pulling movements.

    You could even do some holds for time to get some time under tension in the grip and upper back. Make sure you brace properly and practice good posture for these.

    Thanks again for the post and let us know if you have any questions.

    -Jedd-

  9. Derek Peruo Says:

    Hey Jim, hey Jedd.

    You inspired me to make some DIY thick grips out of foam pipe insulation I picked up from Home Depot.

    Like I mention in episode 4 of my web show, D-Rock TV, the grips work well but they are not as versatile as towels.

    Thanks guys!

  10. Isaac Says:

    SOLID, JEDD, SOLID!!!!!!!!!

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