We have a keen interest in the sport of Strongman, it’s just thrilling to watch, entertaining and it’s also really fun training with some of the equipment.
One thing we have noticed is actually the lack of awareness around grip training in the strongman community. It really is one of the most important tools you can possess in the sport.
We’ve started manufacturing some strongman equipment to try and help spread awareness, make it easier for you to train and develop a solid grip.
Let’s first breakdown a few events that are heavily reliant on grip strength.
A staple event in strongman competitions around the world. Farmers walks, holds or carries are massively reliant on grip strength.
The problem with these events is the differences in handle width, length and shape. It can be really difficult if you’ve been training on your nice, knurled handles at the gym for months, then when it comes to the competition you’re faced with a smooth, thick, stubby handle. Then they tell you no straps! (You shouldn’t be training with straps anyway, unless you’re overloading).
This is where your grip strength comes in, if you’d been training it that is. This event will simply be a breeze for you, no more dropping early, giving up mid way through the hold.
Thick Grip Farmers Handles
One of our recent creations are the thick grip farmers handles, they are simply immense for developing grip strength, forearm musculature and support grip. With a 2” thick handle, our heavy duty farmers handles are designed for short / medium distance training and performing holds.
Manufactured from solid 6mm steel, they’re ready to take a beating, we’ve even angled the edges so they’re ready to slide a little after you drop them, we know you guys like to do that.
Farmers are reliant on two types of grip strength, crush grip and support grip.
Crush grip is the strength between your fingers and palm, if you can imagine the motion of crushing an orange in your hand, that’s crush grip.
A few handy, budget friendly training accessories we have that work really well for crush grip are hand grippers and grip rings.
Support grip is your grip endurance, how long can you hold onto something? Can you lift all the shopping back in one trip? Well you will know how to after reading this blog.
We also have a few training accessories perfect for building support grip strength, finger exercisers and piano grippers.
Whilst accessories are great for developing a good foundation for your grip strength, the best way to build bone crushing grip strength is performing the heavier compound lifts.
Farmers Grip Tips
The best way to get ready for farmers is actually quite complicated, they require back / leg strength for the initial lift, trap and upper back strength to stabilize the farmers and then grip, forearm and grit to take them the distance.
You can probably get away with struggling to lift the weight and have them swing around a bit, but at the end of the day, if your grip fails, your event fails.
Performing farmers walks, with no straps, and as little chalk as possible, is going to set you on the right path.
We’ve created a sample strongman grip training plan with our thick grip farmers handles for you to have a go at.
Week 1 - Farmers Walks
Here we go, make sure you’ve warmed up before training, whether it’s stretches, 10 minutes cardio or a little resistance training.
Take your chalk and strap free hands, wrap them around the farmer's handles..
2 sets x 2 10m lengths @ 50% of your max weight with a 3 second hold at the end - 60 second rest between sets
2 x 2 10m @ 60% with a 3 second hold at the end - 60 second rest between sets
2 x 2 10m @ 70% with a 3 second hold at the end - 60 second rest between sets
Week 2 - Farmers Holds
Focusing just on holds will help develop support grip, essential if your event is farmers carry for distance. A large portion of learning how to up the distance is mind over matter. This wont stop your hands from peeling open though. That’s down to raw grip strength.
As always, make sure you’ve warmed up correctly. Load up your farmers and get ready for pain.
- 1 x 10 Second hold - 50% of your max weight.
- 2 x 15 Second holds - 60% of your max weight
- 1 x 15 Second hold - 70% of your max weight
- 1 x Max hold
Your hands will be burning after that, in fact so will your legs back and traps. If you feel like you’re going to tear your hands, back off. It’s not worth tearing your skin in training.
As the weeks go on you can look to peak towards your competition weight, overloading and increasing the time of holds / distance.
A staple event within the strongman community. Often allowed with the use of straps, but still challenging on the grip. Axles are much more difficult to deadlift compared to regular bars as they are thicker, stiffer and the weights do not rotate. This makes one of your favorite lifts much tougher.
Another very popular event, often used in medleys, axle presses don’t just require shoulder / tricep power, but also heavily rely on your grip strength to even clean the bar.
A standard axle is 2” thick which makes picking up and cleaning the bar very difficult. With no whip in the bar to gain momentum, this makes it more difficult compared to a 1” standard bar.
Without the ability to use straps to help, what’s your excuse for not training grip now? All that shoulder power and you can’t even pick up the bar…
Both axle deadlift and heavily rely on crush and support grip, this implement is also quite awkward to work out how to handle too. What better way to improve your training than with an axle?
With it’s thick 2” diameter, the strongman axle provides a tough challenge for even the biggest strongmen, unless you’re blessed with gigantic hands like Mark Felix. Training with an axle is going to provide excellent benefits.
Available in 4ft, 5ft, 6ft or even 7ft lengths. The strongman axle is an excellent piece of equipment. You can choose between a totally raw or textured finish.
Raw Finish - Bare metal, very smooth. Provides an extra challenge on your grip.
Textured - Finished in our signature texture, provides a little extra help with your grip, prevents rusting.
Axle Grip Tips
We’ve prepared a few handy training tips for you to perform with your strongman axle. Just getting to grips with an axle can be quite daunting. When you first wrap your hands around the beastly bar, it can be like… How on earth am I going to press this.
One thing to remember is when pressing an axle, it puts additional pressure on your wrists and forearms. It is essential to warm up before training.
Just as you would perform standard deadlifts, testing the water here as you’ll likely be deadlifting considerably less than your max with a standard bar. Work up to your max double overhand weight. A steady increase up towards the top would be best, you should be able to gauge this as you increase the weight.
- 1 x 5 @ 50%
- 1 x 4 @ 60%
- 1 x 3 @ 70%
- 1 x 2 @ 80%
- 1 x 1 @ 90%
- 1 x 1 @ 100%
After you've reached the max double overhand, switch over to mixed grip and perform a couple of sets here. This is great for preparing you for pressing. Most people find it easier to clean with mixed grip, it quite simply helps remove a little bit of the ‘roll’ and allows you to keep more explosive force for the clean.
- 2 x 3 @ 100% DOH Max
The fine art that is axle cleans. The best way to practice these is by getting stuck in, finding what works best for you.
Training double overhand cleans / mixed grip cleans is totally personal preference. Some people struggle with mixed grip as they can get their hands stuck or don’t have the mobility to switch back during the clean.
Double overhand is safer, but a little more difficult, however if you’ve got the grip strength, then this is a good option.
Our main training tip for mastering axle cleans is by practicing the movement, you don’t need to press every time, just get the weight into the pressing position. Master the technique then you should have no problem during those medleys.
Thick Bar Work
Aside from the above events. A great overall way to help develop grip strength is by training with grip tools. Available in all different shapes and sizes, the ones best suited for strongman training tools with thick diameter, we recommend the following:
- Forearm Lever - Wrist and forearm strength.
- Rolling Handle - Crush and support grip strength.
- Thick Grip Dumbbell Handles - Crush and support grip. Forearm and bicep strength.
- Dynamite Stick Grips - Crush, support and wrist strength.
All of these grip tools above easily attach to our loading pins. Simply add some weight and you’re good to go.
If all else fails and you're still stuck for training ideas. Our strongman grip training guide is a beast. It's full of awesome training information. Even if we do say so ourselves.