How is Grip Strength Measured?

How is Grip Strength Measured?

While having a powerful grip is beneficial for athletic performance and everyday tasks, how exactly is grip strength measured and tested? There are several tools and competitions used to quantify absolute grip strength as well as grip endurance. We know the fun and entertainment of trying to one-up your pals on a grip lift. Let's take a look at some of the most common ways grip can be measured.

The Standardized Hand Dynamometer

One of the simplest ways to measure grip force is with a hand dynamometer or hand grip strength tester. This device consists of a handle attached to a strain gauge that measures the amount of compressive force being applied in pounds or kilograms.

To use it, you simply squeeze the handles together as hard as possible in an attempt to register your peak grip strength. Hand dynameters allow you to test each hand individually as well as get a combined reading.

While straightforward, the hand dynamometer has some shortcomings in only testing a crushing  grip rather than other gripping styles like pinch and support. It also generally is not used to measure endurance. Often times, experienced grippers can actually max out the lower spec dynameters. It does provide a clear, objective strength number that's easy to track and compare versus others.

Grip Strength with Hand Grippers

A more dynamic way to test grip strength is through the use of hand grippers or grip trainers. These tools allow you to squeeze against varying levels of resistance regulated by the spring tension on the device.

On our side of genie grippers, we measure the gripper strength progressively from a GG1 to a GG7. They start at 100lbs and go up in 50lb increments. Even strong gym-goers can struggle on a GG3. A GG4 is accomplished, and a a GG5 is impressive. Less than 18 people (that we’ve seen) can close a GG6. And just one person so far, has closed the GG7.

To complete a proper gripper, you must be able to take it from an open position and fully crush the handles together. This tests both maximum grip strength and also skill in distributing force optimally through your fingers. It takes much more skill than most people realize.

Grip Lift Competitions

For those who want to showcase their crushing grip in a competitive environment, grip sport competitions are a great option. These feature various max effort static lift events and sometimes max reps on various implements. Here's an example of the max effort lifts.

  • 3x4 saxon bar deadlifts 
  • thick rotating handle deadlifts (like our RGT)
  • Pinching and lifting different shaped weight plates, blocks or objects

The weights used for each lift are gradually increased until only one person remains. This format is generally known as "last man standing." This allows competitors to objectively display who can lift the most weight on a chosen grip tool.

Grip Endurance Challenges

While feats of max grip force are impressive, grip strength is about more than just a hard crush - it's also about muscular endurance. This is where strongman-style events come into play. These events include grip as a major component. These events are more typically seen in strongman, as opposed to grip competitions.

  • Sustained heavy farmers walk holds for max distance
  • Overhead thick axle presses or lifts for reps
  • Carrying and holding odd objects like stones, logs, or sandbags

These grueling tests challenge your grip ability to keep holding and squeezing over an extended period. The person who can maintain a vise-like grip longest comes out on top. There are even events that are almost completely grip dependent like the wrecking ball hold or the Hercules Hold.

Grip Can Be Measured in Many Ways

From simple grippers to full-body grip challenges, there are many ways to measure overall grip abilities. Trying out these different types of grip challenges gives you a complete picture of your absolute strength, forearm and hand endurance, as well as your mastery of various gripping styles.

Whether your goal is better performance in athletic lifts, enhanced hand health, or dominating grip sport competitions - tracking your numbers across these modalities is key. Plus, it gives you a fun way to compete with your friends. Identify your weaknesses, set new goals, and keep training towards your most powerful grip.

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