Strongman 101: Grip Strength

A Practical Approach When Pursuing the Sport of Strongman By Robin Wright –

So you’re Gym-strong!  Great, that’s a good start.

If you wish to pursue the sport of strongman, you better be deadlifting and squatting. Your core strength is crucial. You may have great power in your chest, biceps, calves or maybe you have balls of steel, but if you can’t grip it, you can’t lift it! Work your grip and increase the strength in your forearms. Core strength and grip strength together represent a powerful combination that can be applied to a variety of strongman disciplines.

Personally I do heavy hammer curls. First I pre-exhaust my biceps with alternating dumbbell curls until I can no longer curl with proper technique. Then I transition into hammer curls keeping the dumbbell tight to the body, curling to my mid chest. I start at 80 pounds and finish to my max at 190. Low reps say six reps to your max with sets of two to three.


Following this, apply classic wrist curls, standard and reverse. Light weights and reps of 10-12, total –  three sets.

Another important exercise is wrist rotation with dumbbell in hand (hammer position). Slide the weight to the top, away from the hand. Supporting your forearm on a bench, give the dumbbell enough space to rotate from side to side. You can even do this from front to back. The primary goal of this exercise is to stretch and rotate to the max. So go light and maintain good control.


Strongman disciplines’ where grip strength is crucial:

  • Farmers hold / walk
  • Car deadlift
  • Tire flip
  • Atlas stones
  • Hercules hold

GET A GRIP and go far!!

Yours in Strength,

Robin Wright.  Founder / Director


Robin Wright,, Kamloops, BC Canada

Founder and Director of the British Columbia Extreme Athletics Association

Special thanks to my webmaster Diane Roberts:

Justin Cuzzetto: Reflex Nutrition, Kamloops,

The City of Kamloops, BC, Canada Tournament Capital of Canada,

and many more sponsors who have helped and are helping make the BCEAA strong in its continued success.

A Five-Day Training Routine For Everyone

Training routines come and go. You switch from a six-day to a four-day and back, all in search for the perfect one. Push/pull? Days on/off? Cadio before or after weights? One can drive him/herself crazy trying to figure it out. We have tried to simplify things a bit and feel that this is a program that can implemented into any schedule, especially because each workout session can be as short as 45 minutes.


Biceps/Triceps– Some may argue against training both arm parts on the same day, but it will all make sense when you read the rest of the schedule. Performing 12 sets for each is sufficient and you can switch each week with which one you start with.


Legs – Quads and hamstrings done the same day, starting with the quads, of course. Squats should be the first movement done and you should try to do at least 12-15 sets combined. This is also important because you are giving your arms a day off from lifting when they would be the secondary muscles worked during the rest of the body parts.

Leg day is surely one that CrossFitters like Lindy Barber pushes to the max.


Chest – Everyone does chest on Mondays, right? So why wait around the benches while the entire gym does the same? By mid-week, the flat and incline should be wide open. Hit this body part hard when you’re more than warmed up for the week instead of doing it after two rest days.


Back – This goes right along with the switching on and off for the push/pull muscles. You will have nothing holding you back from blasting those lats, one of the larger muscles that need a good pounding and multiple sets, 12 being the least.



Shoulders/Traps – Some like to do traps on back day, which you can do but the workout can stretch a bit long then. Deltoid moves should be done first, then traps. Heavier exercises such as front and behind presses need to be performed first, then you can hit the dumbbells for lateral raises, etc.

ABS – One of the most annoying muscles to respond to training should be hit nearly every day. Do one exercise for four sets at least four times a week and make sure to switch them around each time. Hanging leg raises and rope crunches do work if you do them properly.

FOREARMS – Should be done with arms, chest and shoulders. They are a small muscle group, so keep it to four sets per day and a variety of exercises.


CALVES – Hit them often to bring out the diamond shape in your calves. You can do them all five days with the same system as forearms as far as the amount of sets, etc. . Calves are perhaps the weakest body part even up to the pro level in bodybuilding, so they will not grow unless worked.

CARDIO – Three times per week is a good start. The days can be any you choose, but leg day should be avoided. It’s personal preference when to do it, but after the weights is our recommendation.


Super Sets For Arms

We all have been there. You know, those mornings where we have hit the alarm off button instead of the snooze and lost a half hour or more of quality gym time. But instead of blowing off an entire body part, you can get it all in by implementing super sets.


Not every body part is condusive to this, however, so hopefully on these days where you fuck up and roll out of the fart sack late are ones that you can pull this off. So let’s use arms as an example.


Maybe you train biceps and triceps on separate days, but for this article, we’ll have you training them together. This is interchangeable; you can mix chest and tris, here, too. But if we gave you every possible combination, we would all fall asleep before it’s done – writing and reading.


So you finally made it to the gym and have a short window to get 12 sets in for each body part. If you’re going to super set, you can’t have some other asshole stroll over and change the grip on the cables while you’re doing the first part. So what you need to do are movements that can be done either on the same machine or within reach of each other.



Biceps – Seated alternate dumbbell curls

Triceps – Seated behind-the-head French presses (either dumbbell, EZ-curl bar or barbell)




Biceps – Standing cable curls

Triceps – Cable pushdowns




Biceps – Scott curls with EZ-bar

Triceps – Dumbbell kickbacks




Biceps – Concentration curls

Triceps – Close-grip bench press


Keep in mind that you will have to lower the weight slightly from your norm since you need to have enough strength and energy to complete the triceps movement after pre-exhausting your arms with the biceps one.


But if you maintain strict form and do 10-12 reps per set, your arms will be so pumped by the time you’re finished that holding the steering wheel for the drive home will be a challenge.


Overhead High Cable Curls For Biceps Isolation

Think back to when you picked up your first weight. It was most likely a dumbbell and you did your best impression of a curling motion with it. Your form probably sucked and you had no idea what to do, but your subconscious mind told you that you felt a pump. You knew that doing this simple – but effective – exercise was going to make you stronger and look better. Who doesn’t want big arms?


That’s the mentality you need to grasp time and time again as the years go by and you have logged more hours in the gym than your own home. But shit gets stale after a while, doesn’t it?

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When the inevitable happens, you need a much-needed boost and something that will still be easy to do but be effective at the same time. A movement that will allow you to see and feel that bicep move and eventually grow bigger.


If you do not do overhead high cable curls on bicep day, then give them a shot the next time around. They are a great exercise either as a warm-up or finisher and can even be done on as a super set with another curling movement. You can do them together, alternating or the one-arm variety. Find which one works best for you and don’t alienate the others, either.

What makes these an interesting exercise is that the D-handle fits comfortably in your hand, you can use a long range of motion and squeeze each rep hard at the top. Weight is not the important thing here; starting off with 50 pounds on the stack is a better way to go than doubling that and swinging it up with momentum. Let the bicep do the work and it will pay off.


Bodybuilders love this one because it mimics a front (and rear) double bicep pose on the stage, depending on how you stand. Dead center for both, but moving forward gives the rear pose look.