5 Forearm Exercises To Improve Grip Strength

If you notice your hands and forearms experience fatigue sooner than you’d like, you need to work on your grip strength.


By Amy Schlinger |

While grip strength may be an innate ability that you don’t think about often, it isn’t something to be taken for granted. Just jump on a mountain bike or bomb down some steep descents to experience arm pump, and you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.

In fact, the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that grip strength may be a predictor of muscular endurance and overall strength. And for us cyclists, it’s even more important. “There are three different types of grip strength— crush, support and pinch grip, and crush and support are the most important when it comes to cycling,” explains Luke LombardoIronman Triathlete, and Schwinn-certified cycling instructor, in Los Angeles, CA. “Crush grip is the actual ability to squeeze something—the handlebars or brakes in a cyclist’s case—and support grip is the ability to hang or hold onto an object for a lengthy duration. Usually, when hopping on a bike, you’re on it for a while, so you’re going to need to keep your hands on the handlebar for a decent amount of time.” If you’re a mountain biker, grip can be even more important as you shred over rocks, roots, and gravel.

If you notice your hands and forearms experience fatigue sooner than you’d like, you need to work on your grip strength. “Forearm strength exercises will help you gain strength in all three types of grip strength,” explains Lombardo.

How to use this list: The moves below are curated and demonstrated by strength coach Meghan Hayden, NCSF-CPT, trainer at Performix House in New York City, so you can learn the proper form. Add these forearm exercises into your weekly fitness routine once or twice a week to reap the benefits. You will need a kettlebell, a tennis ball, and a pull-up bar.


Forearm Exercises for Grip Strength

1. Farmer’s Walk/Carry

Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a kettlebell in left hand at side. Bend right arm to counterbalance. Keeping back straight, chest high, and shoulders down, walk forward for 30 seconds without allowing weight to cause an imbalance in your posture. Turn around, pass the kettlebell to the right hand, and walk back for 30 seconds with a balanced posture. That’s one set. Repeat for three sets total.

Make it harder for even more grip strength: Walk with high knees.


2. 90-Degree Kettlebell Hold

Stand with feet hip-width apart, slight bend in knees. Pick up the kettlebell by the handle with the right hand. Keeping elbow next to the body, bend elbow to 90 degrees, extending kettlebell out in front of you, forearm parallel to the floor, palm facing inward with thumb up. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch hands and repeat. That’s one set. Repeat for three sets total.

Make it harder for even more grip strength: Rotate palm up and down slowly for 20 seconds.


3. Ball Squeeze

Hold a tennis ball in your right hand. Squeeze as hard as possible for 30 seconds. Switch hands and repeat. That’s one set. Repeat for three sets total.

READ MORE Keep Your Hands Pain-Free On Your Ride


4. Dead Hang from Bar

Grab the bar with pull-up grip, palms facing away from you. Dead hang without rocking or dropping from the bar for 30 seconds or as long as you’re able to hold before dropping. Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat for three sets total.

Make it harder for even more grip strength: Depress shoulders in a reverse shrugging motion and hold.


5. Alternate Dead Hang from Bar

Grab the bar with pull-up grip, palms facing away from you. Loosen grip in the right hand as you shift all weight to left hand and hold for five to ten seconds. Then shift weight to the other hand and hold for five to ten seconds. That’s one set. Continue alternating for three sets total. If you need to drop and rest, rest 20 to 30 seconds in between sides.

Make it harder for even more grip strength: Remove inactive hand from bar entirely and hang from one hand.

READ MORE ON: grip grip strength mountain bike mountain bike braking workouts