If you suffer from a weak grip or problems like tennis elbow or golfers elbow then these 7 kettlebell grip strength exercises are for you.
Kettlebells offer a great option for strengthening your grip in a variety of ways for both grip endurance and also brute grip strength.
Let’s get started:
Why Kettlebell Grip Strength Exercises Are Important
Everyday your grip strength is being used whether carrying shopping, opening a jam jar, holding a tennis racket, swinging a golf club, or playing with your kids.
As we age our overall muscle mass decreases and so does our grip strength
Having a strong grip is not only useful to accomplish daily tasks but it also helps maintain a heathy injury free body.
Tennis elbow, golfers elbow and other painful conditions that affect the forearm and elbow can be directly related to a weak grip.
Your grip strength is also directly related to your shoulder. Try squeezing a tight fist without activating your shoulder muscles, you can’t.
Most athletes report an increase in their overall weight training lifts when they improve their grip strength.
Personally as a climber and martial artist I’ve seen first hand the important of grip training.
As a kettlebell instructor I’ve seen some great advances in my own grip strength just from performing a variety of kettlebell exercises on a regular basis.
7 Kettlebell Grip Strength Exercises
If you are a frequent kettlebell lifter then you will have been training your grip strength without you even realising it.
The heavier the kettlebell and the thicker the handle the more grip strength you will need.
You can exercise your grip strength endurance by performing exercises with a lighter kettlebell and for longer periods or work your brute grip strength by going heavy.
Listed below are 7 kettlebell grip strength exercises starting with the easiest and finishing with the most technical.
1 Kettlebell Slingshot
The kettlebell slingshot is a dynamic way to start conditioning your grip strength and serves as a great warm up too.
Keep your arms straight as you practice passing the kettlebell from one hand to the other around your body.
Stand tall with your chest up and core muscles tight. Your hips should remain as motionless as possible.
Experiment with different kettlebell weights, you can use a lighter kettlebell to work on your grip endurance and a heavier kettlebell to challenge your grip strength.
Keep the space around you clear just in case you drop the kettlebell.
Take action: Practice changing direction every 10 rotations. Can you manage a total of 100 reps?
Want more? Why I love the kettlebell slingshot
Watch the kettlebell slingshot exercise below:
2 Kettlebell Farmers Carry
The kettlebell farmers carry is a classic grip strength training exercise.
The exercise is simple, pick up a kettlebell and go for a walk.
You can work on your grip endurance by using a lighter kettlebell or grip strength by using a heavy kettlebell.
The thicker the kettlebell handle the more challenging the exercise will be. You can wrap tape, a cloth or cardboard around the handle to really challenge your grip strength.
Try to add some variety to the exercise too by walking up hills, down hills and across uneven ground.
When you feel like you are going to drop the kettlebell set it down for a few seconds to allow recovery and then pick it up and continue.
Start a grip workout: Select a specific distance and see how many times you have to put the kettlebell down before reaching your destination, then change hands and walk back again.
3 Kettlebell One Hand Swing
The kettlebell swing will challenge your grip strength as the kettlebell tries to escape from your grip due to the momentum of the swing.
You will find that during high repetitions of swings your grip will work hard especially as your hands start to get slippy with sweat.
The heavier and thicker the handle the more challenging the exercise will be
I particularly like using the kettlebell swing for training grip endurance over longer sets of swings.
Start a grip workout: Work up to 60 seconds of swings on each arm before setting the kettlebell back down on the floor.
Watch the kettlebell one arm swing exercise below:
4 Kettlebell Clean
The kettlebell clean will challenge your grip strength during the bottom part of the exercise.
As the kettlebell drops from the racked position down towards the floor you will have to squeeze tightly to prevent the kettlebell from escaping as you reverse the movement.
The kettlebell clean is based on the deadlift movement pattern so you should be able to lift some nice heavy loads which is excellent for overloading the grip.
Again, the thicker the kettlebell handle and heavier the load the more challenging the exercise will be.
Go heavy for more explosive heavy grip training.
Start a grip workout: Try one of my favourite clean workouts, perform as many kettlebell cleans as possible in 60 seconds. 30 reps is your target.
Learn more: Stop banging your wrists and clean like a pro
Watch the kettlebell clean exercise below:
5 Kettlebell Bottoms Up Clean
The bottoms up kettlebell clean is a more technical exercise but great for working the grip in a different way.
Perform the kettlebell clean in the usual way but this time allow the kettlebell to drift upside down at the top position.
Keep your elbow tucked in and see how long you can maintain the bottoms up position before you have to take the kettlebell back down to the floor again.
Beginners will really work hard in the top position as they improve their body alignment in order to keep the kettlebell upside down. The more experienced will find this exercise more of technical balancing act.
Unlike the regular kettlebell clean the bottoms up clean will challenge the grip twice, once at the top of the exercise and again at the bottom.
Start a grip workout: Practice the bottoms up clean with various different weights, work up to 10 reps holding for as long as possible in the top position.
Discover more: 5 kettlebell exercises you are not doing but should be
Watch the kettlebell bottoms up clean exercise below:
6 Kettlebell High Pulls
The kettlebell high pulls exercise works the grip both in the bottom part of the swing and also in a more technical way at the top.
At the bottom part of the high pull the kettlebell swings in between your legs and will try to escape from your grip.
During the top portion of the high pull your grip must stay strong to prevent the kettlebell handle from rotating through your hand.
Care should be exercised during this movement because at the top position the beginner can easily lose control of the kettlebell. A high elbow and good alignment from the handle through to the elbow are important.
As with all these exercises the thicker the handle and the heavier the kettlebell the more challenging the exercise will be for your grip.
Start a grip workout: Practice and progress to 60 seconds of high pulls on each arm
Discover more: Master the kettlebell high pull exercise
Watch the kettlebell high pulls exercise below:
7 Kettlebell Snatch
The kettlebell snatch exercise is not only a superb full body exercise but also very challenging for your grip too.
As with the kettlebell swing and high pulls exercise the kettlebell tries to escape the grip due to the momentum of the swinging kettlebell.
The kettlebell snatch challenges the grip even further as the kettlebell is thrown from the top position outwards increasing its momentum and load.
You can work both your grip endurance through longer high rep cycles or your grip strength through heavier shorter workouts.
Start a grip workout: Try the 10 minute snatch challenge. Perform as many snatches as possible in 10 minutes changing hands as many times as you wish but never putting the kettlebell down. Your goal is 200+ reps.
Learn more: Ultimate guide to the kettlebell snatch
Watch the kettlebell snatch exercise below:
Conclusion to Kettlebell Grip Strength Exercises
Strengthening your grip in a variety of ways with kettlebells can help you to: fix forearm and elbow issues, improve sports performance, and increase your overall lifting strength.
As we get older our grip strength starts to deteriorate so working on your grip is something that all of us should address at some point.
Kettlebell training has a huge amount of benefits and improving your grip strength is only one of them.
I hope you have found this useful.
To see more posts about sports performance workouts and advice, go here.
Have you tried any of these kettlebell grip strength exercises? Let me know more below….