How’s your grip? Many of us neglect our hands. But did you know that working out with a grip trainer is a great way to tone or bulk up your forearms? A good grip can also help with lifts. You can only lift what you can actually hold in your hands. That’s why olympic lifters are such big fans of grip strengthening.
There are countless reasons why you should start grip training. And there are just as many hand exercisers to get you started. But be warned: Many of them are junk.
I want you to get the most for your money. Let me teach you how to find the best hand grip strengthener. I ran across four great deals while looking for the ones with the best value. Be sure to check them out, too.
How To Pick The Best Hand Grip Strengthener
It’s not really hard. Keep these key points in mind as you look at what’s available. And keep in mind that this is one thing that you’d be better off shopping for online. The big box stores mostly carry low-quality trainers at a high price.
Do You Need To Grip Train?
First, let’s make sure that this type of training is for you. There really aren’t any disqualifiers other than the obvious. Arthritis may present a problem, for example. But there aren’t any health problems I’m aware of that can be complicated by grip training.
In fact, this type of exercise can be a great way to heal after an injury. That’s how I got interested in it in the first place. My doctor recommended it to me after I sprained my wrist several years ago. Follow medical advice from a professional if you are going to train to recover from injury. That’s important, because you don’t want to overdo it and end up making things worse.
Check out these reasons to start grip training if you still need to be sold on the idea:
- Stronger forearms
- Better dexterity
- Tighter grip
- Improved ability to handle barbells and dumbbells
There are four main types of grip trainers available, and the type you get is one of the most important considerations facing you when you go shopping.
The best kind in most cases is the coil type. They're just handles attached to the ends of a coil of aluminum alloy. The handles can be plastic or some kind of metal. Avoid plastic if you can.
If you want a solid, hefty, high-quality grip trainer that will last a lifetime, focus on coil-type trainers.
Spring-type grip trainers are usually less expensive, but they are generally of lower quality. Many people like them because they are often adjustable in some way, usually by turning a thumbscrew. But I really don't see the point in adjustable trainers. As you'll see, there are some awesome sets available at a truly incredible value. That adjustment screw is just another moving part that can be a headache if it malfunctions.
Another reason you may want to avoid the adjustable kind is the fact that there’s no way to tell what you have the resistance set at. There’s no gauges or anything. You have to guess at it. And that’s a lot harder than trying to estimate the weight you have on your barbell, for example.
Articulated grip trainers are for strengthening your fingers. They fit snugly in your palm. or at least the good ones do, and there is a pad for each finger to squeeze. Each pad has its own spring, and each spring usually has a resistance of around one to nine pounds. That’s all you really need. Start small and work your way up.
It’s OK to get a plastic articulated trainer. They won’t break under normal use. The thing to look for is the size of the thing. It should be comfortable in your hand. Most of these types of trainers I’ve seen are one-size-fits-all.
Silicone rubber trainers are often overlooked. I admit that I never thought much about them at first. It wasn’t until I started brushing up on the subject in preparation of writing this post that I realized how useful they can be.
Their outstanding feature is simplicity. What they are is specially shaped pieces of tough silicone. There’s no moving parts.
If you go looking for a good one, you may notice that they rarely carry a resistance rating. That’s because the resistance depends on how hard you squeeze. You’re compressing a piece of rubber, not depressing a spring or winding a coil. There’s no maximum or minimum. You just squeeze at the higher end of your comfort zone. As your comfort zone expands, your strength improves. How’s that for simple?
They’re also affordable. You can get a good one for less than $10. There are complete sets, even some that include finger stretch loops, for less than $20.
You can stick one of these in your pocket to take with you to work, or anywhere else for that matter. I like being able to squeeze in a quick workout when I’m stuck in traffic or waiting on a flight.
If you can crush a raw potato in your hand, start out with 300 pounds of resistance. For those of us without bionic hands, it’s best to start out somewhere sane.
Most beginners who’ve never done this type of workout will be most comfortable with 100 to 120 pounds as a starting point. This is assuming no recent injuries. Start with rehabilitation resistance if you’ve hurt or overexerted your hand, fingers, wrist or forearms within the past couple months.
Don’t get all macho in the beginning, either. Even if you’re pretty buff in the biceps, you need to ease into grip training if you’re new to it. Curling and pressing do strengthen your hands, but not as much as you may think. The recommended starting point of less than 120 pounds applies to you as well as any other.
If you’ve been using one of those department store trainers for a while and are looking to up your game, you can start out a bit higher. But keep in mind that the low-quality options found in big box stores are usually way off with their resistance claims. I’ve seen some of them advertise “up to X pounds of resistance.” Their cheaply make trainers don’t have the manufacturing quality needed to assure a reliable amount of resistance.
If you grip train faithfully at least a few times per week, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll gain grip strength. You’ll probably notice the difference within a couple weeks. And with such quick results, you’ll stick with it. You’re going to want to advance to more weight.
This is why I recommend getting sets, rather than one trainer at a time.
As I’ve said about many other pieces of home gym equipment, it’s best to have everything you need when you get started. When I first started curling with dumbbells, many years ago, it was a real inspiration to see the heavier weights sitting there on their rack, just waiting for me to be able to work with them.
Another reason to get everything at once is value. Whether you’re looking for gym equipment or video games, buying sets are always a cheaper way to go. You’re going to need several trainers anyway, so go ahead and make your investment.
Our Picks For The Best Hand Grip Strengtheners
There’s one for everyone here. We weighed the considerations outlined above to single out the models with the most usefulness and value for the money.
Gripmaster Hand Exerciser
This is the original articulated hand trainer. It works out each finger individually. It isn’t adjustable, but it is available in several different resistances: one and a half, three, five, seven and nine pounds per finger.
The one and a half pound model is good for rehabilitation after surgery. Choose three pounds if you’re a beginner or have very small hands. Five is a good intermediate starting point. Seven and nine offer a decent amount of resistance for the average person looking to build strength and dexterity.
Since they’re not adjustable, you’d have to buy a few if you wanted to train progressively. They cost a little less than $15 each, so it can add up. But there are several combo packs available, each with trainers of different resistances. You get a bit of a discount investing like this. Check out the combos.
There’s several colors available too, just in case that matters to you. You can get green, yellow, blue, red or black.
But do they work? Well, they don’t really do much for your forearms. They do strengthen your overall grip, but not as much as coil or spring-based ones. The real benefit is the strength you can gain in each individual finger.
That can improve your grip, and it comes in useful for special applications. This is the most popular trainer among guitarists and pianists, for example. Rock climbers, who sometimes have to support the combined weight of their body and gear with just one or two fingers, also love this one.
It’s pretty comfortable, too. It has a non-slip rubber-like coating. But the finger pads aren’t padded. That’s one thing that people have complained about.
- Enhances dexterity
- Builds finger strentgth
- Doesn't do much for forearm strength
Captains Of Crush Grip Trainer
CoC claims their product is the gold standard of grip trainers and the world’s leading hand strengthener. They are being honest on both accounts.
This isn’t one of those plastic toys you get at Wal-Mart. It’s a heavy-duty, solid piece of workout equipment made of aluminum and steel alloy.
It fits all hands well, even though it isn’t adjustable in any way. But it is available in eleven resistance levels:
- Guide – 60 pounds
- Sport – 80
- Trainer – 100
- .5 – 120
- 1 – 140
- 1.5 – 167.5
- 2 – 95
- 2.5 – 237.5
- 3 – 280
- 3.5 – 322.5
- 4 – 365
The Guide is good for rehabilitation and seniors. No. 4 is something you spend years trying to get to. Many seasoned body builders who aren’t experienced with grip training have trouble closing a No. 1.5 on their first try.
If you’re new to this type of workout, you’d probably be better off starting with the Trainer or Sport model. The price varies from about $25 to around $45, depending on the model. It will take a good investment to rise through the ranks, but each one will last a lifetime.
To say it works would be a gross understatement. It’s a serious piece of equipment.
The handles are etched out in diamond knurling for a secure grip. They won’t slip at all.
If you’re serious about grip training for stronger hands and bigger, stronger, more solid forearms, consider CoC’s line of grip trainers.
- Solid and well-made
- Smooth resistance
Logest Metal Hand Grip Strengthener
When I first saw these ones, and considered the price, I thought they were just cheap knock-offs of the CoCs. I’m glad I took a better look at them, because they are actually high-quallity trainers at an amazing price.
They are made of the same materials as CoC: aluminum and steel alloy. They’re about the same size, too.
There’s really no point in buying one of these individually. Get one of the sets. For less than $30, you can get a trio with 100, 150 and 200-pounders. For an extra $20 or so, you’ll get the six-pack that also includes the 250, 300 and 350-pound trainers. That’s the way to go if you want super grip strength and rock-solid forearms.
What an incredible value, right? I bet you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. What’s wrong with them?
Of course, there is a trade-off for such an exceptional price. There are two, actually. One is the consistency of the pull, and the other is the knurling.
To understand the consistency of the pull, let’s compare this one to the gold standard, CoC. You’ll feel the same resistance when squeezing a CoC from the first millimeter to the fully closed position. With one of these. it’s a bit lighter at first, then it gets harder as you near fully closed. Is that a big deal for you? It isn’t for most people.
The knurling can actually be a problem. The handles are too smooth for me. It’s not like the trainer is going to pop out of your hand and go shooting across the room, but they will feel like they are slipping around a bit in your grip as your hands get sweaty.
But you also have to consider that you’ll probably only be doing from five to twelve reps per session. The smoothness is really more of an inconvenience than anything else.
If you don’t mind the knurling issue and the weird variance in resistance when squeezing, you can save a lot of money here. In fact, you can get a whole set of these for the price of one CoC trainer.
- Very affordable – Great value if you get one of the combos
- Not a very smooth squeeze
- Handles can get somewhat slippery during use
Pnrskter Grip Strength Trainer And Finger Exerciser Set
Here’s something different. But I like unusual things, and most of you do, too.
These grip trainers are palm-sized doughnut-shaped things that you squeeze. There’s no springs or handles, just a circular rubbery silicone ring.
There are three resistance levels. The green one is light, and it’s best for rehabilitation and small hands. Blue is a good starting point for most people. If you’re new to grip training, you’ll advance to the orange one.
So what’s the resistance weight? Well, keep in mind that there is no spring involved, so there really isn’t any maximum. You can squeeze as hard as you want to. The difference between the colors is in how much give the ring has.
These things will fit perfectly in your palm, unless you have tiny or enormous hands. And since they’re made of silicone rubber, they’re inherently non-slip.
The finger exercisers are also color coded to indicate their respective resistance levels. They’re designed to work the muscles that extend your grip. All you do is put each of your fingers through the loops and splay your fingers. It’s simple.
You can fit an entire set of three grip trainers and three finger exercisers in your pocket.
If you’re looking for an ultra-portable way to strengthen your grip and each of your fingers, take a good look at these.
- Simple design
- If you're used to coil or spring trainers, you may find these to be awkward
The CoC is the very best by all metrics, except for price. You pay extra for the superior quality and heft.
Logest gets the award for the best overall value among coil-type grip strengtheners. The price is awesome, and the quality is surprising for anything in that price range.
Gripmaster is the original and still the best among articulated hand exercisers.
Pnrskter makes an affordable, portable and totally effective set of grip and finger strengtheners that you can take anywhere.
Now you know what to look for. So it’s time to go back to the question that started this post. How is your grip? Adding grip training to your workout regimen is easy, takes only minutes per day and fits in any budget. There really isn’t any reason not to do it.