The Wannabe Polymath

Hand and Finger Training

by on Jul.28, 2015, under General

Every martial artist should be giving special attention to training their hands and fingers. A good part of the strength from a punch comes from grip strength. Remember, how you were taught to clench your fist immediately before impact? If you have weak hands you will have a weak punch.

I have always had an obsession with hand strength since I started working out. (One of my favorite moments was when a physical therapist handed me a device to measure my grip strength. I gave one squeeze and he jumped backed and shouted “Holy!” before immediately composing himself to read the number.) Something about a strong grip and being able to lift things with a single finger to me was the sign of true strength. Because of this fascination I have always lifted things throughout the day with only my fingers, done fingertip pushups and used hand grips.

If you are already strength training then your hands are getting a workout already. Gripping dumbbells and barbells give your hands a workout already (especially with heavy lifts like the deadlift). But as a martial artist, you need to go beyond this to get true grip strength.

Here are some hand and finger training methods in no real order:

The Hand Grip

This is the most easily accessible grip trainer. If you have been looking to increase your grip strength, then, chances are, you are already using a hand grip. The goal with the hand grip is to squeeze the handles together so that they touch. It’s a great training device. The downside is that it does not necessarily train all of the muscles in the hands and fingers. The other downside is that you will need to buy new ones as you get stronger. But it is a terrific hand workout, none the less.

Fingertip Pushups

The classic martial arts pushup. Fingertip pushups are going to hurt when you first do them. To assume the starting position: start on your knees with your fingers already spread apart and prepared to lift. Then you will kick out your legs to enter the pushup position and begin your pushups. Do as many you can in each set. If you cannot manage one, then look to other methods to train your fingers before tackling the fingertip pushups.
You can increase the difficulty of fingertip pushups by using fewer and fewer fingers until you are on just the thumbs or the index finger and thumb.

Hand Exercise Balls

Not only are they a great phallic symbol of power, but these balls are also a great way to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome! They go under a variety of names, steel/stone eggs (depending on the material), health balls, hand exercise balls, Baoding balls (I have yet to hear a Chinese person call them that). You rotate them in your hand with the goal of being able to do so without them touching each other. While doing so you can also squeeze them to work your grip. You can increase difficulty by adding a third or fourth ball. Supposedly they also massage acupuncture points in the hands to help maintain health. I don’t know, but they are a good way to exercise finger strength and dexterity. You won’t really get any burn out of this exercise (it is yet another Chinese old man exercise, like Taiji, that make younger Chinese go “WTF?” when they see us young white people doing it.), but it is a simple exercise you can do while reading a book or sitting at the computer. Very easy to add your living habits.

That will do it for now. There are plenty more hand exercises out there. These are the more common ones and between the three of them will already put you on the path to strong hands.

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