Looking to shred your forearms and send your projects? Look no further, as we’ve assembled this list of the best grip strengtheners for climbing.
Improving grip strength is just as important as strengthening other muscle groups like the biceps or pecs, especially if you practice a sport like rock climbing.
One of the best and easiest ways to exercise your handgrip strength is by using a grip strengthener. With these grippers, you can train your hands and fingers while reading a book, watching TV, or even while chatting with friends! They’re convenient, portable, and, most importantly, extremely effective.
In this article, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about building grip strength for climbing. We’ll also review the six best grip strengtheners for climbing on the market. Let’s get started!
In this guide you will find:
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Best Grip Strengthener for Climbing: Reviews
In today’s list, we’ll discuss two different types of grip strengtheners: those that focus on fingers and those that train the whole hand.
Finger strengtheners are specifically made to build strength and dexterity in your fingers, hands, and forearms. They’re a great choice for beginners and children.
S&T INC. Rubber Band Style Finger Strengthener – Ideal for Beginners
If you feel a bit hesitant about shelling out too much for a hand training tool, the S&T INC Finger Strengthener should be ideal for you.
This gripper is exactly what it says on the tin: a low-intensity training tool that imitates a rubber band. This product comes with three levels of resistance, so you can make your way up to the heaviest option. On top of the three rubber-band style strengtheners, it also comes with three grip rings that you can squeeze like a stress ball.
Due to the hand-opening movement it requires, this product gives enough resistance, contraction, and extension to work your hand muscles.
- Helps alleviate finger strain
- Three different resistances provides a nice balanced set
- Hypoallergenic silicone
- Suitable for novices
- Comes in only one hand size
PROHANDS Gripmaster Hand and Finger Exerciser – Ideal for Intermediate Finger Training
The Prohands Gripmaster is one of the first spring-loaded, finger-piston exercisers marketed to the world.
Unlike traditional grip strengtheners that come with two handles, this trainer is designed with individual buttons for your fingers to press. Doing so prevents stronger fingers from filling in for the weaker ones, therefore challenging each finger individually for strength.
The Gripmaster Exerciser is available in three different strengths, ranging from 7 lbs to 11 lbs per finger. It’s best suited for athletes who are looking for a moderate-intensity grip strengthener to supplement their training or treat a finger injury.
- Extremely lightweight at only 3 pounds
- Allows you to exercise your fingers individually
- May help with arthritis, carpal tunnel, neuropathy, and poor circulation
- Plastic tips can be a bit hard on the fingers
- The highest resistance may not be sufficient for some users
- You can’t adjust the tension level
Hand Exercise Tools
Are you looking for tools to enhance your finger strength, endurance, dexterity, and muscular tone? The following products are some you should check out:
IronMind Captains of Crush Hand Gripper – Best Overall
The IronMind Captains of Crush is often referred to as the golden standard for building hand strength. These grippers have been featured in publications such as Stanford magazine, The Sacramento Bee, and, most recently, the 2020 IHGF All-American Highland Games, which further strengthened its reputation as one of the best, if not the best, hand training units in the world.
Made from knurled, aircraft-grade aluminum handles and GR8 springs, this hand gripper provides a more secure grip than rubber or plastic products. Plus, it has 11 different strength levels to choose from, ranging from 60 pounds to a hefty 350 pounds.
The knurled aluminum handles are perfect for weightlifters, bodybuilders, rock climbers, and CrossFit Athletes who rely on a strong grip. If you’re a beginner, keep in mind that the knurling may hurt your hands at first. But, as long as you train at least twice a week, your hands will get used to that roughness.
Overall, this hand strengthener is simple, effective, and beautifully crafted!
- Solid aluminum and steel build offers optimum durability
- Professional-grade product
- Comes in a wide range of resistances
- Classic yet effective design
- You can’t adjust the tension level
Longang Hand Grip Strengthener with Adjustable Resistance – Best Budget Option
When it comes to hand exercise tools, we always recommend buying the highest quality you can afford. After all, grip training is no joke; with the wrong tool, it can seriously injure your hand.
With that said, despite its extremely affordable price, the Longang Hand Grip Strengthener checks all the safety precautions needed for this type of tool. It’s versatile, accessible, and surprisingly effective. Although it isn’t the most sophisticated or durable gripper there is, it certainly gets the job done.
Other than its price, users love the fact that it’s adjustable. Rotating the screw cap will change the resistance level from 11 lbs to up to 132 lbs. This feature is handy for those who just started training their grip.
- Comfortable rubber padding allows you to exercise for more extended periods
- Tension adjustment works well due to high-quality stainless steel springs
- Quiet and versatile
- Can’t be suited for heavy training
There are many things we love about the Kootek Hand Grip Strengthener.
For one, it’s easily adjustable. Simply turn the fixing ring counterclockwise to loosen it up, slide the handle along the metal bar, and screw it back up to the resistance level you’re comfortable with. The greater the distance between the handles and the coils, the less tension you’ll receive.
The only downside to this product is the fact that the inner aluminum arm is coated in a grease-like lubricant, making it highly likely to get your hands greased while adjusting the coils.
Similar to the IronMind Captains of Crush Hand Gripper, the Kootek hand gripper has knurled aluminum grips, making it exceptionally slip-resistant. Regardless, it may take a bit of getting used to as knurled grips generally hurt your hands if you’re new to using them.
In addition to its adjustability, this gripper is entirely made of heavy-duty aluminum, which means it can hold up to repeated use impressively well.
- Adjustable resistance: from 50 to 150 pounds
- Ergonomic, non-slip handles
- Attractive design
- Screw-top handles are difficult to adjust
The difference between the Gripmaster we’ve reviewed above and the Gripmaster Pro is the fact that the latter provides a larger range of motion for users. It also offers a heavier tension (13 lbs), making it suitable for active gym enthusiasts and those who are serious about finger strength.
The dense rubber grip pads found in the Pro version make challenging workouts more comfortable. It’s also larger than the first edition, giving a better grip for large hands.
Similar to the Captains of Crush Hand Gripper, Prohands Pro isn’t adjustable. This means you’ll have to buy a new device when you progress.
- Suitable for those with large hands
- Ideal for individuals seeking maximum strength and endurance
- May be used for rehabilitation
- Allows for single-finger isolation
- You can’t fine-tune the tension level
Grip Strength – What Is It?
According to Iowa State University, grip strength is a measure of the tension generated by your forearm muscles. It’s often used as a screening tool to measure your upper body and overall strength.
Research shows that grip strength has proven to be a reliable indicator of the quality of life as you grow older. The study concluded the following:
“Among healthy 45 to 68-year-old men, handgrip strength was highly predictive of functional limitations and disability 25 years later. Good muscle strength in midlife may protect people from old age disability by providing a greater safety margin above the threshold of disability.”
Besides decreasing your chances of developing an age-related disability and, of course, making a strong first impression, grip strength training comes with a number of other benefits. These include:
- Bigger, stronger forearms, thus helping your climb harder routes
- Lower risk of heart attack and stroke
- Improved endurance
- Increased bone density in wrists and elbow joints, making injuries less of a risk
- Increased strength on pulling movements
How to Increase Grip Strength
Your grip strength can be improved by weight training. This can be achieved in multiple ways; for one, you can train with thick-handled equipment, such as dumbbells and grip strengtheners. You can also perform curling exercises, bench presses, and farmer’s walks.
On top of weight training, changing some of your daily routines and activities can aid in the improvement of your grip strength as well.
For example, instead of taking your vehicle to the automatic car wash, wash it yourself. Instead of using a snowblower, use a shovel. Even squeezing a “stress” ball while watching your favorite TV show helps considerably.
Best Grip Strength Exercises
Grip strength exercises improve three major types of grip strengths:
- Crush strength: denotes your grip strength when using your fingers and palms
- Support: how long you can hold on or hang onto something (most applicable to rock climbing)
- Pinch: how firmly you can pinch something between your thumb and the rest of your fingers (also very applicable to rock climbing, especially “pinch” holds).
Here are some of the best exercises you can do for every type of grip:
- Tools needed: stress ball, tennis ball, or grip strengthener
Hold a tennis ball, a stress ball, or your grip strengthener in the palm of your hand. Squeeze the object firmly using your fingers, excluding your thumb. Clench as tight as you can, then release your grip. Do as many squeezes as you can.
- Tools needed: standard rubber bands or rubberband-style strengthener
Weave the rubber bands around your fingers. Then, slowly open and close your hands while fully splaying your fingers. Do as many reps as possible, then rest 60 seconds, and repeat two to three times.
- Tools needed: a pull-up bar or a strong horizontal object that can hold your weight
In order to do the dead hang, you’ll need to grab onto a pull-up bar with an overhand grip (palms facing away from you). Then, without bending your elbows, lift your legs up so you’re hanging from the bar with your arms fully straight. Hold this position for as long as you can.
If you’re an absolute beginner, increase your time by 10-second increments. Once you get more comfortable with the exercise, you can increase it up to 60 seconds at a time. Challenge yourself by bending your arms to a 90-degree angle and hold on for up to 2 minutes.
- Tools needed: any weighted object you have on hand, such as sandbags, kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, milk jugs, cinder blocks, tires, and so forth.
The farmer’s carry, also known as the farmer’s walk, is a type of grip exercise that’s all about carrying a load for a long distance.
Choose your favorite object and grip one in each hand, with your palms facing toward your body. Walk about 50 to 100 feet in one direction, using short, quick steps. Keep an upright posture and look straight forward while walking. Then, return to your starting position. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
- Tools needed: 2 weight plates (at least 10 pounds each)
With two weighted plates on the ground, lean down and grab both together in one hand. Grip the outer part of the plates between your fingers and thumb, and stand back up.
Now squeeze the plates in your hands for 5 seconds, or until your grip fails. Gently place the plates on the ground and lift them up again after a few seconds.
Repeat 5 to 10 times, with the aim of gradually increasing the squeezing time. Do this at least 3 times a day to start seeing satisfactory results.
Pinch Grip Transfer
- Tools needed: 2 weight plates (at least 10 pounds each)
Stand up straight and hold one of the weight plates in your hand, pinching the edge with your fingers and thumb. Lift the plate in front of your chest while maintaining the pinch grip.
Without placing the plates on the ground, repeat using your other hand. Repeat this transfer for 10 reps, 3 times a day, to see satisfactory results.
- Tools needed: towel and water
The towel wring is a great grip strengthening exercise if you don’t have access to professional gym equipment. Simply run a towel underwater until it’s wet, grip the ends, and start wringing the water out of the towel. Keep wringing until you can’t get any more water from it.
Then, soak the towel again, and wring in the opposite direction so that you work out both your hands.
Repeat this exercise 3 to 5 times a day.
- Tools needed: n/a
When doing push-ups, instead of placing your hands flat on the ground, raise your palm to contact the floor with nothing but your fingertips.
Do as many push-ups as possible until your hands feel fatigued, then kneel and keep going to final fatigue. Rest 60 to 90 seconds, and repeat two to three times.
Beginner Grip Training Guidelines to Follow
Everyone can benefit from the exercises we’ve listed above. Regardless, it’s important to note that not everyone is at the same level of strength. To prevent injuries, make sure to follow these five important tips:
- Before training, partake in simple, 5 to 10-minute warm-up exercises so you’re less susceptible to injuries.
- Start light. Don’t force yourself to fatigue or carry more than you’re comfortable with. You know your body best, so it’s important to keep tabs on the volume you carry. Move up slowly and don’t rush.
- Make sure you train your extensors. If you’re unfamiliar, the extensors are the muscles on the back of your hand. Training your extensor muscles is necessary to avoid any hand-related injuries. It also allows you to have better control, strength, and hand balance.
- It isn’t necessary to use weights or machines while training. Anything that provides resistance can do the job, including resistance bands and your own bodyweight.
- Give yourself time to recover. Breathe. Good things come with a bit of patience.
Types of Grip Strengtheners
Grip strengtheners come in two main types: coil strengtheners, and spring strengtheners. Read on to find out the differences between these two.
Coil Grip Strengtheners
Coil strengtheners are the most popular type of grip strengtheners. In between the two handles, these hand strengtheners come with a single metal coil that provides ample resistance to train your grip. They’re an athlete’s favorite because they’re durable and easy to use.
The only downside to this equipment is that they aren’t adjustable. In fact, they can only be used for crush strength. Nevertheless, they’re an ideal choice for those who are looking to specifically train their grip.
A great example of a coil strengthener is the IronMind Captains of Crush Hand Gripper.
Spring Grip Strengtheners
Unlike coil strengtheners, spring strengtheners come with a single spring that can be adjusted to a specific resistance level. They’re the recommended choice for those who are looking to train their grip’s crush strength without having to worry about buying a new set of coil strengtheners whenever their strength increases.
Spring-based strengtheners are usually made from plastic instead of metal, making them slightly less durable than coil strengtheners. However, they still tend to be the most economical option because of the freedom it offers.
The Longang Hand Grip is an example of a spring strengthener.
The resistance level of grip strengtheners is measured in pounds. They typically range from 10 lbs to 300 lbs. Manufacturers often label the recommended strength level on the box: beginners, intermediates, advanced, etc.
Every individual has their own strength, so it’s almost impossible to determine which strength is the best for consumers/athletes. Regardless, we highly recommend choosing a grip strengthener based on your experience to avoid injuries.
Adjustable vs. Fixed
Adjustable grip strengtheners, as the name suggests, give you the freedom to adjust the equipment’s resistance. Many people prefer this type of handgrip because they’re versatile. They’re the recommended choice if you’re a beginner, as you can have all the training you need for an extended period with just one piece of equipment.
Fixed grip strengtheners, on the other hand, don’t have this feature. As your strength increases, you may need to buy another product to challenge you enough.
Regardless, fixed strengtheners are much more durable than their adjustable counterparts. They can be quite handy if they’re used solely for stress relief.
Wrist Strengtheners vs. Grip Strengtheners
Both wrist and grip strengtheners have the same function: to increase hand endurance, strength, and dexterity. Here are the primary differences between the two:
Wrist strengtheners are a type of training equipment that can improve the strength and power of your wrists, forearms, and fingers. They often come with an adjustable grip to build the strength of your hand flexors and extensors.
Wrist strengtheners are best suited for intermediate to professional bodybuilders. They might be too strong for beginners, increasing the possibility of injuries.
Grip strengtheners, on the other hand, use a torsion spring fitted with two handles. The exact dimensions of these tools vary, along with the materials used to make them. They tend to be much more comfortable and easier to use than wrist strengtheners.
These strengtheners target your wrists and forearm flexors, in addition to your brachioradialis, extensor muscles, and about a dozen muscles in your palm. They’re the ideal tools to use if you’re a beginner because they come in various resistance levels and models.
If you’re looking to take your climbing to the next level, or just looking to beef up the forearms a bit, grip strengtheners are by far the fastest way to get there.
Our top pick for the best grip strengthener for climbing is the IronMind Captains of Crush Hand Gripper. It’s durability, premium material build, and functionality are the primary reasons why it tops our list.
Not to mention, it is one of the best for training “support” grip strength, which is the most applicable to rock climbing!
Go forth and send!
For more reading like this see: “How to Improve Finger Strength: Shred Your Forearms (Fast)” and “Top Rope Climbing: The Most Incredible Awesome Guide“
Editorial staff for The Wandering Climber. An expert roundup of climbing nerds from across the world!