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How to Improve Grip Strength for BJJ

Updated: May 2

Whether you’re just starting your journey on the mats or an experienced grappler looking to refine your skills, one thing remains constant: the importance of a strong grip. Having a formidable grip can significantly elevate your game in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), where control and submission are key. So today, we’re here to share some insights, tips and techniques on how to train your grip strength for BJJ.

The Foundation of a Strong Grip in BJJ

In BJJ, your hands are your primary tools for controlling your opponent. A strong grip allows you to maintain holds, execute submissions, and defend against attacks more effectively. But it’s more than about having the power to hold on. Remember that it’s also about having the endurance to maintain that grip throughout a match.

As you attend BJJ classes and practise taking down your opponents, your hand muscles get a new kind of workout that leads to grip strength development. However, if you also work on your grip during your off-time, your hands will become firmer and more secure during matches. If you’re new to BJJ, you’ll see significant progress quickly. But if you’ve been practising for a while, you might reach a plateau in your grip strength development. That’s when external exercises and Jiu-Jitsu grip strength equipment become handy and help boost your progress.

Exercises to Enhance Grip Strength

If you want to try your hand at boosting your grip strength for Jiu-Jitsu, here are some exercises you can perform:

  • Gi Pull-Ups: Utilise your gi for pull-ups. It is one of the best exercises to build grip strength, as it toughens your grip while simulating the texture and resistance you’ll encounter when holding on to an opponent’s gi in a match or sparring.

  • Thick Bar Holds: Using a thick bar or adding fat grip attachment to your dumbbells, perform holds or exercises. The increased diameter forces your hands to work harder, building strength and endurance in your grip.

  • Rope Climbs: Climbing a rope helps build incredible BJJ grip strength while improving your overall upper body strength.

  • Plate Pinches: Holding weight plates in a pinch grip (holding the plates together with just your fingers) is a simple yet effective way to build finger strength.

  • Kettlebell Viking Holds: This routine is great for strengthening the flexor muscles of the forearm and the extensors of the wrist. Simply hold the kettlebell with the “bell” part of the weight facing upwards. This exercise will challenge your wrists to remain stiff while working your forearms to keep the weight up! 

Equipment to Boost Your Grip Training

How to improve grip strength for BJJ? You may also want to use additional equipment while performing some of the exercises suggested above. 

  • Grip Strengtheners: Also known as grip strength trainers, grip strengtheners are portable devices that allow you to adjust resistance and specifically target your grip strength. They’re great for training anywhere, anytime.

  • Fat Grip Attachments like Fat Gripz: Attach these to your training bars to increase their diameter, making your grip work harder during any exercise.

  • Gauntlet Gripz: These are designed to emulate the discomfort of gripping an opponent’s gi under tension, which can significantly improve your grip strength for grappling and related BJJ techniques. By training with Gauntlet Gripz, you can better maintain grips on your opponent’s gi, increasing your chances of achieving and maintaining a dominant position.

  • Crimp Training Band: This equipment helps increase finger strength, which is essential for executing precise and powerful grips in BJJ. Training with a crimp training band can boost your ability to grip your opponent’s gi more effectively, providing better control during matches.

  • Metal Hand Gripper: This tool offers adjustable resistance, allowing you to increase the difficulty as your grip strength improves. It’s particularly useful for developing the crushing strength of your grip to maintain holds and apply pressure in BJJ.

Techniques and Tips for Grip Training

Get your grip strength training off to a great start by following these tips and techniques:

Variety is Key

Incorporate different exercises into your routine to challenge your grip in various ways. This prevents plateaus and ensures balanced development.

Consistency Over Intensity

Can you train grip strength every day? Our advice is to train your grip regularly but avoid overtraining. Your hands and forearms recover quickly. Still, moderate training is more effective than occasional, intense sessions.

Focus on Endurance and Strength

While raw strength is crucial, don’t neglect endurance. In BJJ, you need to maintain your grip under fatigue, so include exercises that build both aspects.

Prioritise Protein Intake and Hydration

Ensure your diet supports muscle recovery and growth. Adequate protein intake and hydration are crucial for repairing and strengthening the muscles involved in grip.

Allow Your Muscles Time to Rest and Recover

Incorporate rest days into your training schedule and consider using grip-specific recovery tools like hand extenders or massage balls to prevent overuse injuries.

Wrapping Up

The strength of your grip can be the difference between holding onto a winning position or letting victory slip through your fingers. So, get a grip on your BJJ game and elevate your skills to new heights. Start incorporating these exercises, equipment, techniques & tips into your training, and you’ll likely notice a significant improvement in your grip strength. Happy training, and see you on the mats!

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