Being strong enough to gain and maintain control of your opponent’s wrists can help you set up for a variety of submissions, as well as frustrate your opponent. Working on technique is crucial, but eventually you are going to have to hit the iron to really see improvement in your ability to execute. Most all of us have done some wrist curls, but today I’m going to cover some easy and functional ways to improve the strength of your grip. Strength training is necessary, but none of us want to add yet another lift day or a ton of extra exercises to our routine, so I’m just going to suggest some simple modifications you can make to your current routine.
With pretty much any exercise you do, you can work on your grip by doing one simple thing—adding to the diameter of the bar you are gripping. There are a slew of products out there that attempt to do it, so try doing an internet-search for “Thick grip dumbbells” or some variety of that if you must buy something. At the gym, one simple alternative is simply to wrap a towel or rag around the dumbbells or barbell and then grip the bar on top of the towel. If they are your home dumbbells, you can wrap them with tape to add to their thickness. Also, don’t forget to change it up. You might find that you can only do 10 reps with the rags, but then immediately take the rags off and squeeze out another two reps. Alternatively, you could use them on your first couple of sets, then take them off for the last sets. Don’t be afraid to experiment to keep it challenging!
Granted, you may not be able to do quite as much weight, but your forearms will soon be exploding like Popeye on a spinach rush! We aren’t training for bodybuilding anyway—we are training for functional strength that translates to the mat. The thicker bar is more realistic—when is the last time you rolled with a guy with wrists as skinny as the bars you lift at the gym?
If you are really up for a challenge, try standing on one of the un-stable surfaces that you see trainer’s using with their clients, such as a thick foam mat, or even just stand on one leg. You’ll struggle not only to lift the thick bar, but you’ll also struggle to keep the “wrist” from jerking out of your hand as you keep your core tight. Sounds a lot like Jui Jitsu, doesn’t it?
I don’t feel that doing a lot of extra work is necessary, but if there is one inexpensive piece of equipment you might want to add to your routine, buy an old-fashioned wrist-curl exerciser, or better yet, make one yourself for cheap. It is small enough to leave in your gym bag, so you can even bring it with you to the gym to polish off your workout.