Workout Tips

The 4-Move Workout to Improve Grip Strength

Here’s how to make your grip strength OCR-ready.

The 4-Move Workout to Improve Grip Strength
C Flanigan / Getty

When it comes to dominating an obstacle course race (OCR), your ability to hang is paramount. And that comes down to your grip strength—whether it’s swinging from the monkey bars or climbing up a rope, having well-conditioned forearms is a must.

According to Hunter McIntyre, a professional endurance athlete and Tough Mudder X champion, a good benchmark to determine if you’re ready for OCRs is whether you can do one “Frenchie pullup.”
Here’s how to do it: To start, hang from a bar and pull up. Then slowly lower yourself until your arms form a 45-degree angle. Without lowering yourself to the bottom, pull up again until your arms are
at a 90-degree angle. Repeat again, this time so you form 135 degrees. Then go up one last time and drop.

If your progress is slow, don’t get frustrated, and remember that you can use a resistance band if necessary.

Once you do have the strength, all you need is the ability to harness it. “It’s important for you to have controlled power,” says McIntyre, who suggests finding two bars, with one that’s about a foot above the other, and practicing the transition between the two as slowly and carefully as possible. Now give it a go.

The Grip Strength Workout

Looking to blast your forearms while also getting a full-body pump? Perform this McIntyre-approved circuit three to five times through without putting the kettlebell down at any point.

  • 10 kettlebell cleans (one kettlebell in each hand)
  • 15 to 20 lunges (kettlebells in either front rack or farmer's carry position)
  • 10 box stepups (kettlebells at your side)
  • As many pullups or legless rope climbs as possible (To be competitive for elite races, you need to hit at least 20, McIntyre says.)
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