As I was finishing up a workout today, soaked in sweat – the friendly security guy that climbs the hill on an almost daily basis made a comment that he makes on an almost daily basis.
“Shang bi hao!”, he commented – pointing at my shoulders.
Roughly translated into English, this means “upper arms good” – and he makes this comment on a nigh daily basis.
As I clambered down the hill for my final jaunt back UP – I saw the old man that I’ve referred to so often make his way up the hill – gamely as ever, clad in a vest and shorts – and climbing BAREFOOT of all things!
I’ve often mentioned the cast iron grip this old man – not to mention the rugged shoulder development he has – and ’twas but natural for me to go over and make the same comment to him.
“Shang bi Zhuang!” I commented (strong upper arms!)
And while I’ve already mentioned the secret behind this old man’s iron shoulders – today’s post isn’t about that.
It’s about thick – ruggedly strong HANDS – and correspondingly, a grip of STEEL – which virtually every grip maniac, gym goer or even regular men and women want, but few HAVE.
Well, as I was finishing up my pull-up – I saw a worker near me – an old lady of perhaps around 50 or so with a solid rake.
She was raking up the mud (its been raining here for the past few days) – and other than her posture, which builds immense strength throughout the entire core – her HANDS stood out.
In fact it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say her hands were STRONG – THICK, STRONG fingers that could probably outgrip most of the bros at the gym that shrug with straps and claim to hoist heavy poundages … again, with straps and belts, etc!
Folks – you don’t NEGLECT a weak area – you STRENGTHEN it!
Common training lore has it that you can lift more with straps.
Perhaps, but you’re neglecting your grip – and the tendons of your hands – and wrist – and forearm – and you’re only as strong as your weakest link, my friend.
Now I’ve spoken about how the ladies that delivered my water in China have much the same look to their forearms – and their HANDS.
Try lugging up 20 liter bottles in your hands – holding the bottles by their “snout” all day long for a living. It ain’t easy.
If there’s one thing wrestlers, boxers, REAL strongmen (hint – most today are NOT really strong) – “ironmen” – pull-up fanatics – and even the tiny Chinese masseuses I’ve written about in the past have in common, it’s a strong grip – and fingers that look – and feel – like IRON CLAWS, my friend.
And they all have another thing in common.
They work with THICK bars – or thick handles implements – and they do in a manner that doesn’t resemble anything you do in the gym.
Believe me, when you have a hoe with a long, long handle, and a diameter of about 4 inches or more – you’ll FEEL it in your arms when you work with it – not tom ention do timed holds, levers etc with it.
That’s one the tips in Gorilla Grip – and a highly effective grip builder. I put it at the end of the book for a reason – its a toughie and you’d be best advised to work up to it!
Want more examples?
Well, I’ve spoken about the 6’1″ man mountain I met in China – an ex Marine, and a strong man if there ever was one – and he’s got hands like an ironmonger as well – and how did he get ’em?
Carrying heavy equipment. Handling THICK bars – and weapons his entire life. Doing pull-ups – on THICK bars! And wrestling in high school.
And so forth …
Moral of the story is this – if you want a thick, ruggedly strong grip- and fingers like iron claws – and forearms pulsating like Popeye’s might, well – then – you simply HAVE NO OTHER OPTION than to include thick bar work into your routine – and bodyweight work as well!
And if you HAVE to workout with weights – try heavy water bottles – or beer kegs – or sandbags – or something unwieldy that you gotta STRUGGLE to even HOLD.
Believe me, it’ll build a heck of a grip – one you won’t get in the gym – and certainly NOT by using straps!
Last, but not least, none of this means you cannot have “well maintained” hands.
Nothing of that nature. My own hands are fairly well maintained, but there is no disguising the calluses (“rocks” as my little girl terms them as!!) – and yes, they’ve split open multiple times while training – and that still happens occasionally.
All part of the game, my friend.
All part of the game if you want to truly get RUGGEDLY strong – and thats the note I’ll end on today!
If you workout today – make it a great one – and include some grip work in there as well!
P.S. – Along with gripping, there is another aspect to a strong grip that is usually ignored – FINGERTIP work – and to learn more about this – crack open the Gorilla Grip compilation which you can find right here – – https://0excusesfitness.com/gorilla-grip-the-compilation/