How to Improve Grip for Pull Ups

How to Improve Grip for Pull Ups

Having the ability to execute multiple pull-ups with proper form has a lot to do with grip strength. As a beginner, the lack of endurance in a holding/hanging position translates heavily to how many pull-ups one can perform.

You may have the upper-body strength to do a pull-up, however, without grip strength endurance you’ll likely not reach your potential in form and repetitions.

Unfortunately, grip strength is often left out of strength training regimens. Nonetheless, a strong handgrip that can endure the load will outperform a weaker handgrip every time.

So, if you truly want to become more efficient at the pull-up, it’s strongly suggested that you hone in on grip strength in addition to your other training. The benefits of doing so will not only improve your pull-up performance, but it will carry over in many other aspects of life and exercise as well.

Read on to learn more about the tips and tricks for how to improve your pull-up grip strength.

Increase Pull Ups Grip Strength

Many athletes use things such as chalk or gripping gloves to help in grip-related sports and activities, but these are substitutes for a strong grip.

Don’t be mistaken! Chalk can be a great tool to have access to in competitions like CrossFit where the margin of error is low and any advantage is a good advantage. However, that doesn’t mean it “improves” your overall grip strength. Consider it a temporary band-aid.

A much better approach would be to actually put in the work and partake in the exercises and training methods that directly improve your grip strength so that you can have true confidence in your ability to endure the task at hand, in this case - pull-ups.

Let’s get into it!

Below is a list of the top 5 tips for how to improve pull-up grip strength:
1. Dead Hangs
2. Fat Grips
3. Farmer’s Carry
4. Towel Pull-ups
5. Increase Training Frequency

Dead Hangs For Pull Up Grip Strength

Dead hangs for pull-ups are a fantastic way to improve your grip strength. Not only does it directly challenge your handgrip, but it also strengthens your back muscles, shoulders, core, and forearms.

Using a pull-up bar, or simply some playground equipment, grab on with an overhand grip and pull your feet off the ground so that you are hanging with full arm extension overhead. Do this until fatigue. Perform 3-5 sets of 20 seconds to failure while resting in between each set. Perform dead hangs multiple times a week for optimal results.

To track your progress, time your first hang. Hang on until you drop. Record your time, then keep doing these multiple times a week for 2 weeks. Now time yourself again and see how you compare to your past self.

In addition to strength and grip, dead hangs also decompress the spine. An added benefit to a simple and effective exercise.

The key takeaway here is to challenge yourself. It isn’t enough to hang for a few seconds and rest. The end goal here is to improve grip strength so that you can endure the difficulty of consecutive pull-ups, so keep that in mind the next time you do dead hangs.

Fat Grips

Utilizing fat grips is another great way to improve grip strength for pull-ups. By increasing the circumference of the surface you are holding onto, you activate muscles that wouldn’t otherwise be activated.

Thicker handles strengthen musculature, reduce joint-related injuries, and ultimately make the grip much more challenging than a standardized pull-up handle. The more difficult your training, the easier the performance will be when it comes to game time!

Use pull-up bars with thicker handles, purchase “Fat Gripz” to place on barbells and dumbbells, or even place them around the pull-up handles themselves.

Farmer’s Carry

A farmer’s carry is holding two heavily weighted objects (typically kettlebells or dumbbells), one in each hand, and walking for a period of time (i.e. 30 seconds) or for a set distance (i.e. 100 meters). Your arms are down at each side, much like carrying two suitcases with full arms.

Injury can happen with a farmer’s carry, so it important to have a straight spine (rather than rounded), feet close together, shoulders back, core engaged, and step heel to toe.

With that said, the intention of the farmer’s carry is not speed; it is “time under tension”. The longer you can hold the weight, the better!

Remember, the goal here is grip strength and good form. It’s not a race…

Tip: If you want to add a level of difficulty to the farmer’s carry, combine the farmer’s carry with the use of fat grips. Your forearms will really be screaming then!

Towel Pull-ups

Using a towel for pull-ups is an innovative and effective way for improving grip strength. Simply loop the towel over and around the pull-up bar and engage in a set of pull-ups. OR, simply dead hang!

Do you see how all of these tips can be combined for added difficulty?

A simple routine to follow here would be to choose a challenging number of pull-ups that is within your range. Perform them and rest for 30 seconds, then repeat.

Increase Pull Up Training Frequency

The more you do something the better you get at it, right?!

Training frequency is strongly correlated to improvements in whatever you’re working towards…Training something twice a month won’t suffice.

Sure, recovery is extremely important and needs to be taken into account in any training program. However, if you follow the recommended rest periods and take the necessary recovery days, training frequency should be at the top of the priority list.


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