Hand grip strengtheners are vastly underused training tools.
Using them boosts grip strength, which enhances your athletic performance, helps stave off injury, and may even increase your lifespan.
This expert guide will walk you through the best grip strengtheners on the market, teach you the benefits of strengthening your grip, explain what to look for when buying a hand grip strengthener, and more.
(Affiliate Disclosure: All products we review reflect the research and opinion of our editors. We sometimes receive the products we review for free, and when you make a purchase using the links in this article, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.)
The Captains of Crush Gripper was the best spring-loaded hand gripper we tested by a substantial margin.
These grippers are precision-engineered in the US from knurled aircraft-grade billet aluminum, which is significantly more robust than most other products on the market. Their design is simple and sleek, and they feature a proprietary spring that doesn’t squeak or slacken, even after heavy use.
Basically, these grip trainers are the Terminator of hand grippers—they won’t stop, ever.
The “CoC” grippers also come in levels of resistance ranging from 60-to-365 pounds, so everyone can find a strength that works for them. We tested the “No. 3 Trainer,” which offers 100 pounds of resistance. This was plenty challenging for our team, all of whom have enough hand grip strength to deadlift around 500 pounds without straps.
One reservation some may have is that the Captains of Crush Grippers have a fixed resistance, which may seem limiting for progression, especially since many rival products adjust to offer more resistance as you get stronger.
However, this isn’t something that should concern you. Hand grip strength doesn’t drastically increase from one workout to the next like squat or deadlift strength might. For instance, the No. 3 Trainer gripper had me adding reps weekly, but I have months to go before needing a tougher one.
(For context, IronMind, the company behind the Captains of Crush Gripper, suggests that users should only consider progressing to the next level gripper when they can comfortably perform 20-to-25 clean repetitions with their current gripper.)
If you’re an athlete (a weightlifter, jiu-jitsu player, or rock climber, for example) looking to improve your grip strength, the Captains of Crush Grippers are the best choice.
- High-quality materials
- Available in several levels of resistance
- Exceptional build quality
- Fixed resistance, which some people may dislike
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There are several aspects of grip strength.
And while tools like Captains of Crush Grippers are ideal for gaining “crushing” strength (strength generated primarily by your fingers), Fat Gripz Pro lifting grips are perfect for developing “pinching” strength (strength that involves squeezing with your fingers and thumb).
They work by wrapping around barbells, dumbbells, pull-up bars, and machine handles and increasing their diameter. This makes holding onto the weight considerably more challenging, allowing you to strengthen the muscles in your hands, wrists, and forearms.
As with any innovative product, several other brands have copied the Fat Gripz design. Having tried several of these imitations, I can confidently say that nothing comes close to the originals in design, materials, and overall quality.
Fat Gripz are made from a proprietary compound that’s exceptionally strong. In fact, it can be tricky to wrap the lifting grips around the barbell at first. The benefit of this is that they easily stand up to heavy use. Moreover, once you have them in place, they stay put, which is essential during any exercise where grip is less stable than usual.
In contrast, other brands tend to be more flimsy and are prone to slipping or spinning during a set, which is off-putting and may increase your risk of injury. And while it’s not something I experienced during testing, it seems likely that more pliable lifting grips would degrade sooner than Fat Gripz.
Another benefit of Fat Gripz is that they’re available in different diameters, depending on your circumstances and goals.
The Pro model (outer diameter of 2.25 inches) presents a solid challenge for most weightlifters. For those with smaller hands or beginners looking for a more manageable start, the Fat Gripz One (outer diameter of 1.75 inches) is an excellent choice. On the other end of the spectrum, the Fat Gripz Extreme outer diameter of 2.75 inches) caters to individuals aiming to develop exceptional gripping strength.
- High-quality materials
- Exceptional build quality
- Very durable
- Available in different diameters
- Can be difficult to wrap around a bar at first
Many believe adjustable hand grippers are more practical than fixed-resistance grippers.
Theoretically, they allow you to easily increase the resistance as you build strength and they’re cost-effective since one adjustable hand grip can replace multiple fixed-resistance grippers.
However, they generally fall short in practice.
Typically, the levels of resistance they offer are too light for people serious about increasing grip strength, and on many models, tracking the resistance used is tricky. What’s more, they’re often suspiciously light compared to similarly calibrated fixed-resistance hand grippers, and their build quality tends to be poorer, raising questions about their long-term value.
The GD IRON GRIP Hand Grip Strengthener is an exception.
It’s well-constructed from carbon steel and aluminum and offers up to 198 pounds of resistance, a figure that seems accurate and should suffice for most recreational gym-goers. Furthermore, it’s highly adjustable, allowing you to tinker with the resistance and handle length and spacing.
This adjustability likely comes at a price, though. While the hand strengthener we tested hasn’t shown signs of malfunctioning yet, it’s hard to believe the moving parts will withstand years of regular use.
- Solid build quality
- Highly adjustable
- Offers a good level of resistance
- Doesn’t offer enough resistance for those serious about developing hand strength
- May not last as long as fixed-resistance grippers
“Extensor” strengthening is a crucial yet often neglected component of grip, hand, and forearm training.
While the flexor muscles enable you to squeeze or clench your fist, the extensor muscles are responsible for spreading your fingers apart. Strengthening these muscles is essential for preventing muscle and strength imbalances and promoting overall hand, wrist, and forearm health.
The Expand-Your-Hand Bands are the ideal solution for developing extensor strength.
Their standout features are their simplicity and flexibility. In contrast to other products, the Expand-Your-Hand Bands don’t require wearing a cumbersome device over your hand and wrist, nor do you have to thread each finger through a loop. This design makes them easy and quick to put on, means they fit in your pocket so you can use them anywhere, and allows you to train whichever combination of fingers you want.
Each pack contains five sets of bands in varying resistances, allowing you to increase the challenge as your strength improves. The pack also includes two bands for each resistance level, so you can exercise both hands at once or have a spare band for each level in case one breaks.
- Come in five levels of resistance
- You get two bands per resistance level
- Putting them on can be fiddly at first
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Not everyone focuses on overall grip strength for athletic performance. For some (rock climbers, musicians, and weapons handlers, for example), individual finger strength and dexterity are more critical.
If this is the case for you, the PROHANDS Gripmaster Hand Exerciser is a useful tool.
While it doesn’t offer enough resistance to train crushing strength, it allows you to train each finger individually, offering a different approach than standard grippers. This makes it perfect for those looking to improve finger-specific tasks, such as fingering frets, gripping crimps, or pulling a trigger.
Moreover, the Gripmaster is available in various resistance levels, allowing you to select one that matches your current strength and training goals.
- Trains individual finger strength better than other training tools
- Promotes finger dexterity and control
- Not enough to build crushing strength
The EliteFTS 3” Cable Grenade Ball challenges your grip unlike any other implement on this list.
Similarly to Fat Gripz, the Grenade Ball trains pinching strength, not crushing strength. However, unlike Fat Gripz, it’s designed to work specifically with cable machines, allowing you to tax your grip while performing lat pulldowns, cable rows, triceps pushdowns, cable side and rear lateral raises, and so on.
For a more advanced workout, you can attach the Grenade Ball to a pull-up bar using nylon straps and carabiners, transforming it into a handle for pull-ups, chin-ups, or dead hangs.
Be prepared to be humbled if you choose this setup—it’ll greatly reduce the time you can hold on, and, thus, lower the number of reps you can perform. But on the up side, it’s an excellent method for developing exceptionally strong grip strength.
- Offers unique stimulus
- Highly adaptable
- Requires extra equipment if you want to attach to a pull-up bar
The farmer’s walk is an excellent full-body strength and conditioning exercise that develops Herculean grip strength.
However, few commercial gyms have equipment suitable for heavy farmer’s walks, which is where Spud, Inc.’s Traveling Farmer Walk Handles come in.
These heavy-duty straps allow you to carry several hundred pounds of plates in each hand and easily roll up to fit in a gym bag.
While they’re an effective substitute for traditional farmer’s walk equipment, they have some limitations. Notably, they tend to swing and may hit your lower legs more often than metal handles. Additionally, loading and unloading the handles is time-consuming, at least until you get accustomed to the strap mechanism.
- Highly portable
- Cheaper and more practical than farmer’s walk handles
- Slow to load and unload
- Can swing and hit your legs as you walk
That’s because you have to end your sets when your grip is tired but before your other muscles are fully trained, which partially defeats the purpose of the exercise. Improving your grip strength ensures your grip isn’t the weak link.
Elbow pain is common among weightlifters, but developing overall grip strength may reduce your risk of elbow injury. This could help you be more consistent in your training and thus make faster progress over time.
Scientists don’t fully understand the connection between grip strength, longevity, and well-being. Nevertheless, studies regularly find a connection, and some research suggests grip training may be a way to enhance overall health.
When searching for a hand grip strengthener, the choices can seem overwhelming. With various brands, resistance levels, and price points available, how do you decide?
This buyer’s guide breaks down the key factors to consider when selecting a grip strengthener that matches your needs and goals.
First and foremost, consider your primary objective. Are you rehabilitating from an injury, looking to improve athletic performance, or just aiming to strengthen your grip for daily activities?
Your goal will significantly influence the type of grip strengthener best suited for you, whether it’s for gentle rehabilitation or intensive strength training.
The resistance offered by hand grip strengtheners varies significantly. Some models provide fixed resistance, while others feature adjustable resistance, allowing you to increase the difficulty as your strength develops.
To help you choose the appropriate resistance level for your hand grip strengthener, here are guidelines based on different experience levels:
- Complete beginner: 20-to-50 pounds
- Female novice*: 55-to-80 pounds
- Male novice*: 80-to-100 pounds
- Intermediate: 110-to-140 pounds
- Advanced: 150-to-180 pounds
- Expert: 190+ pounds
(* Someone who regularly lifts weights but is new to specific grip training.)
Investing more usually means better materials, superior build quality and user experience, and higher resistance levels. For instance, a $10 gripper likely won’t last long, may squeak during use, and probably doesn’t offer much resistance. It may even provide less resistance than advertised.
That said, hand grip strengtheners shouldn’t be overly expensive, either. Spending $20-to-$30 should be enough to get a good-quality grip strengthener that will last several years of use.
The construction quality of a hand grip strengthener greatly influences its durability and effectiveness.
Look for ergonomically designed grippers, as this can make you more likely to use them regularly.
Metal grip strengtheners typically offer greater longevity than plastic ones but may also come with a higher price tag. The construction of the spring is also crucial—steel springs often indicate a robust and durable product.
Renowned brands usually deliver both quality products and reliable customer service. Reading customer reviews and ratings can provide insight into the product’s performance and the brand’s credibility. This step can help you avoid inferior products and ensure you get good value for your investment.
Yes, grip strengtheners effectively improve hand, wrist, and forearm strength.
That said, they shouldn’t be the only tools you use to improve your grip strength. Instead, use them as adjuncts to a well-designed strength training program, such as Bigger Leaner Stronger or Thinner Leaner Stronger.
For most people, doing 2-to-3 grip training sessions per week is enough to develop your grip strength. Separate these workouts with 1-to-2 days to allow your muscles to recover.
Grip strengtheners primarily train your wrist, hand, and forearm muscles. This includes the flexor and extensor muscles, which are responsible for the movement of your fingers and wrists.
+ Scientific References
- Fleck, Steven J., and Jeff E. Falkel. “Value of Resistance Training for the Reduction of Sports Injuries.” Sports Medicine, vol. 3, no. 1, 1986, pp. 61–68, link.springer.com/article/10.2165%2F00007256-198603010-00006#citeas, https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-198603010-00006.
- Bohannon, Richard W. “Grip Strength: An Indispensable Biomarker for Older Adults.” Clinical Interventions in Aging, vol. 14, 1 Oct. 2019, pp. 1681–1691, https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S194543.
- Kim, Junghoon. “Handgrip Strength to Predict the Risk of All-Cause and Premature Mortality in Korean Adults: A 10-Year Cohort Study.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 19, no. 1, 21 Dec. 2021, p. 39, https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010039.
- Jiang, Rongtao, et al. “Associations between Grip Strength, Brain Structure, and Mental Health in > 40,000 Participants from the UK Biobank.” BMC Medicine, vol. 20, no. 1, 9 Sept. 2022, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-022-02490-2.