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3.16.2011

How About Having Strong Fingers

How About Having Strong Fingers

Bench PressMike Gittleson was the Director of Strength & Conditioning at the University of Michigan for 30 years and was a part of 15 Football Championships in that time.  He explains how strong hands start with the fingers.

Having strong hands and fingers is a good thing, yet this area of our anatomy is often neglected or added in at the end of a workout as a finisher or unique lift.  Hand strength tends to be something we say we are working on and can show a few exercises for, but really is not taken seriously.

You seldom hear coaches boast about how strong or explosive a players hands are or seldom go to a clinic and have a coach map out their hand and forearm strength program.

Each physiological motion taking place at the wrist and hand have at least two muscles producing it.  The muscles that lay outside the hand are called extrinsic and those within the hand intrinsic.

The intrinsic muscles of the hand can be thought of as in three groups

1. those of the thumb (thenar)

2. those of the little finger (hypothenar)

3. those in the middle of the hand (intermediate)

Grip MachineWe don’t often think of individual digit strength when training our hands, but the contributing power of each finger certainly adds to the whole.

Training to have strong  pinky fingers may seem silly, yet think of this, your little finger can generate anywhere from 30 to 37% of the closing power of you hand.  You have six finger muscles that participate when contracking your pinky.  Adding your ring, middle and index finger to the task escalates the gripping power.

Grip What is interesting is that the abductors and the adductors of the fingers are seldom trained, yet most participate in flexion of the fingers and subsequently help generate tremendous closing power.Hands

Finger abduction & adduction is important in sport.  Not only in augmenting flexion, but in any skill that requires the use of the fingers for holding or grabbing.  Strong ab’ and adductors enable you to grasp, especially when something is being torn out of your hand.

In the weight room strong fingers will quickly make other lifts go up.  You will be delighted with how rapidly you break through sticking points.

If you are a strength coach and have a strong son, it’s ok to brag a little.  KC Gittleson has tremendous hand and finger power.  He has developed his finger strength in many ways.  One of his exercise is the finger walk.  This is done by holding a sledge hammer between the finger tips and walking the fingers down the handle until touching the hammer head.  A wooden handled sledge hammer is preferred as it is more difficult to grip.

Grip StrengthGrip Strength

To appreciate KC’s strength, load up a sledge with 40 or 50 pounds and then try lifting it off the ground with your finger tips.

When training with the sledge, you can also train specific digits to emphasize the weakest areas of your finger power.  Below, KC demonstrates how to walk down a 20 pound sledge hammer using only two fingers.  Try giving it a whirl.

Grip Strength ExerciseGrip Strength Exercise

Training the abduction and abduction of your fingers will give you freaky strong hands and tremendous closing power, an excellent way to Get Strong.

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