Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hand & Wrist Strength in Athletics - Chuck Coker

Hand & Wrist Strength in Athletics
by Chuck Coker (1962)

One of the most important aspects of athletic conditioning is often overlooked by most athletes. This important phase of the well trained athlete is hand strength. There are very few sports that are played in competition in the United States in which the hands don’t play a major factor in the outcome of the overall performance. Strong hands are certainly needed to play football; in tackling, on defense, supporting the body in the charging position, passing, receiving, etc. Basketball is a sport in which hand strength and dexterity are extremely important. In baseball, catching and fielding, throwing and batting all require excellent hand strength. In track the field events such as the shot, discus, javelin, pole vault, hammer throw; and in running events such as the hurdles and sprints strong hands are needed to support the body weight easily in the starting position. In golf and tennis hand strength is of great importance in gripping the racquet or golf club, plus being able to put all the power of the body and arms through the hands with power and accuracy. In swimming strong hands are needed to pull through the water to complete the power of the arms, back and shoulders during the stroke.

In the past decades when we were a nation of hardworking physical people and we did many things with our hands, there was no particular concern for this phase of training. Every schoolboy had to milk the cows, chop wood, pitch hay, etc. However, the times have changed and the toughest thing most young men have to do today is hang on to the steering wheel of a car. Have you noticed when shaking hands with most young men today it is like shaking with a dead fish! It’s high time we did something to strengthen the very important hands that are so needed in all aspects of life. The abilities of the human hand are fantastic when you consider the handiwork of man. The following program should be one of great value to you in building up your hands and wrists for all phases of athletics, or simply for the pure joy of possessing greater hand strength.

The program can be done three times per week and some of the exercises can be done daily.

1.) Hand and wrist curls: 3 sets of 10 reps, palms up.
2.) Hand and wrist curls: 3 sets of 10 reps, palms down.
3.) Wrist rotations (clockwise and counter clockwise) 10 reps each direction. Use a dumbell bar with weight on one end only. Support the forearm on the thigh while seated, palm up and rotate the weight while gripping the bar tightly.
4.) Plate gripping: grip two 25-pound plates together with one hand, hold them together for 5 minutes with each hand. This will take you some time to progressively build up to, so in the beginning use smaller plates, or do several sets if necessary to make the full 5 minutes with each hand.
5.) Wrist roller exercise: 2 sets of 10 reps up and down.
6.) Following are several things you can do at odd times or incorporate into each workout:

Paper crusher: place a double sheet of newspaper out flat on a table. Starting at one corner with the heel of your hand in contact with the table pull all the paper into the hand using the fingers. When you have it crushed into a tight ball squeeze it 10 times hard and then do the other hand. 3 sheets is a good start. When you can do the entire Sunday Times you posses a strong grip!

Ball squeezing: you have to really work at this one to gain any benefit. Put something into it.

Hand grippers: Try doing a wrist rotation with these at times.

One hand deadlift: use a barbell and work up to a considerable amount of weight. Treat it like a real lift and not a novelty, using similar set/rep schemes.

Swinging a sledge hammer: an excellent exercise for the wrist and hands. Muscle-out feats with a 12- or 16-pound sledge are excellent exercises for strengthening the grip and wrist.

Tearing paper and old phone books, bending nails and spikes.

Rope climbing and hanging from a horizontal bar for as long as possible are good tests of hand strength and will build gripping endurance.

Tug-of-war with a rope is also excellent for the grip.

In conclusion, if you work hard at hand strength, as with any other training, you will be pleased with your improvements.

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