What are the Different Types of Grip Strength?

Erica Stratton

Grip strength is how much force can be exercised by the human hand. The different types of grip include the crush grip, pinch grip, and support grip. These are defined by the muscle groups used in the hand and the number of fingers used. Grip strength can be measured by how much weight a person can pick up or by a machine.

Grip strength is used during a handshake.
Grip strength is used during a handshake.

A crush grip may be familiar even to those not dedicated to bodybuilding or martial arts. It is the same motion used in a handshake and involves the palm and all the fingers. This kind of grip can be developed by using a spring, a device which looks somewhat like a nutcracker. By gripping the two handles and forcing it shut, the hand muscles can be exercised to develop a stronger crush grip.

Developing grip strength is useful for many kinds of physical activity, such as rock climbing.
Developing grip strength is useful for many kinds of physical activity, such as rock climbing.

A pinch grip involves using the thumb as well as the other four fingers. It is used in grasping narrow objects, such as a sheet of plywood. One of the ways to exercise the muscles used in a pinch grip is to pinch a metal weight between the thumb and the other four fingers while lifting it.

A support grip is used in carrying something, such as the handle on a bag or bucket. This type of grip uses all of the hand muscles. It can be developed simply by holding a dumbbell in each hand and walking with them. This type of exercise is often called the "farmer's walk" after its similarity to a farmer carrying heavy buckets of milk.

Developing different kinds of grip strength is useful for many kinds of physical activity, such as rock climbing and martial arts. It can also be used in the performance of impressive feats of strength, such as ripping phone books or decks of cards in half. There are even contests and titles for those who have developed some of the strongest grips in the world.

Measuring grip strength has other uses besides feats of strength. It can be used during medical evaluations related to hand surgery, diagnosing muscular disorders, or evaluating a person's overall health as they age. Average grip strength can be an overlooked feature of the body. When it lessens, it can affect an individual's ability to do daily tasks. Day-to-day movements such as gripping a railing in order to go up stairs, lifting groceries and picking up objects all rely on grip strength.

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Discussion Comments


A lot of rock climbing gyms have a piece of equipment use for bouldering. This is usually about 10 feet high and has lots of different hand holds and unusual planes and angles that climbers can work through.

This is good for practicing lots of the principles of rock climbing but another one of its best features is that it improves your grip strength tremendously. Usually you climb on this with no ropes so your hands have to support a lot more of your weight. Its a great training tool and something that any aspiring rock climber should get to know really well.


I worked for a few years building solid surface counter tops. A part of the process involves putting into place lots and lots of high pressure scissor clamps.

So just about every day I was opening and closing hundreds of these clamps. My grip got extremely strong extremely fast. I could even see changes in the way my hand looked. The meat on the back of my hand between my thumb and index finger began to bulge up.

It helped a lot on the job though. When I first started my hand would ache at the end of the day. By the time I stopped working there I didn't notice any feeling at all.

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