Grappling arts require high levels of grip strength and the ability to maintain that grip strength throughout a match. It’s important when training the grip that the different grip techniques are addressed so you get the greatest carryover to your grappling.
These being; crimp, clamp, support, crushing, and monkey grips. You can get a visual and in-depth explanation of these grips in my “Grip Strength For BJJ” article.
Not all grip techniques need specialized training equipment. Some just need your standard weight plate or even a hand towel as you can see in my “16 Best Exercises For Unbreakable Grip Strength In MMA” article.
However, certain gripping techniques need specialized grip strength equipment in order to maximize the carry over to grappling. I’ve listed five of my top grip strength equipment choices in this “best of” article.
I have personally used these pieces of equipment or currently own them. I would not recommend you cheap sh*t that breaks within a few months. You will see in my list that most of the equipment comes from one brand. That brand is the ultimate for grip strength equipment and you should never buy from anyone else except them. 100% serious.
So without further or do, here is my list of best grip strength equipment for grapplers.
Best For Developing Support Grip Strength: Fat Gripz (check current price)
Best For Developing Crushing Grip Strength: IronMind Captains Of Crush (check current price)
Best For Overall Grappling Grip Strength: IronMind Tough As Nails Sandbag Set (check current price)
Best For Hand And Forearm Health: IronMind Expand Your Hands (check current price)
Best For Those Who Have Money To Burn: IronMind Rolling Thunder (check current price) & IronMind Olympic Loading Pin (check current price)
Fat Gripz: Best For Supporting Grip
Fat Gripz are the most versatile pieces of grip strength equipment you will find. I’ve had mine for close to 10 years and use them for almost all of my upper body exercises.
I’m not joking.
Presses, pull-ups, rows, curls, triceps, deadlifts, you name it. I even use them for full body movements such as power clean and presses. Developing this supporting grip pays off in huge dividends in no-gi grappling events and even MMA where you are grabbing wrists, ankles, and triceps.
Just to prove I’ve had these for so long, here is a picture which shows they are the old original design.
As you can see, mine were designed with no texture so the rubber is smooth. It makes it difficult to grip when your hands are sweaty.
However, the new ones have a knurling design on them so you won’t run into that problem. So let’s breakdown this grip strength equipment and find out what makes it so great.
I’ve had my Fat Gripz for close to 10 years. There is not one bit of damage done to them. I’ve put them on bars with the sharpest knurling and on bars that are already thicker than usual. They haven’t warped in shape or lost any of the inside rubber.
They are made of heavy duty rubber that I can swear by from my own experience won’t need replacing.
I’ve only ever used the blue Fat Gripz as that is all they had when I first bought them. They have served me well and even with the new options, I don’t believe there is much of a need for them.
Now, if you have out of the ordinarily big hands, then you should opt for the orange Fat Gripz as you’ll be able to sink your whole hand around the blue ones. But you really have to have giant hands to need the upgrade.
Conversely, if you are a female with smaller hands, the black Fat Gripz may be a better suited option for your grip training. My wife uses my blue ones and doesn’t find too many problems with them. However, she is a professional Weightlifter so has above average grip strength already.
As a female, if you haven’t done much strength training or any grip training, then I would opt for the black ones. If you are a male, you should go with the blue Fat Gripz.
This is one of the greatest benefits of the Fat Gripz. They are small, light, and can be left in your gym bag not taking up much room. In fact, that is where mine live and always have.
As I mentioned above, you can use them on a variety of exercises. As long as you are using a barbell or dumbbell for your exercise, you can add the Fat Gripz to them. Just be aware that some dumbbell handles are too short so the Fat Gripz don’t fit between the weighted ends.
I’ve found this to generally be the case with Hex style dumbbells.
Here are some pro tips from my years of experience using these:
- When gripping the Fat Gripz, have the open end facing your hand. If you have it facing away, it can feel as though the Fat Gripz are slipping off which isn’t good for your grip training.
- Don’t just replace all your exercises with Fat Grip variations. Perform your regular exercise first and then finish with the Fat Gripz to blast your grip. That way you still overload the musculature you’re trying to train.
Favorite Exercise To Perform With Fat Gripz
It’s hard to nail down one exercise as my favorite when using the Fat Gripz. But, going with one, I love the Fat Gripz Barbell Curl.
It gives a great combination of upper arm development and taxes the forearms while developing really strong wrists.
If you’re unsure which Fat Gripz model to get, then check out my post detailing the differences between them with my original research.
IronMind Captains Of Crush
I currently own the Trainer, No. 1, and No. 2 Captains of Crush Grippers from IronMind. If you are serious about developing a ridiculous crushing grip, then you need good quality grippers. These aren’t the typical plastic crap you find at your local supermarket that you could close with your finger and thumb.
These are grippers made with the strength athlete in mind so you know they are perfect for grapplers. The crushing grip isn’t as prevalent in grappling as the fingers and thumb don’t move towards the palm like a fist, rather than stay static which is a supporting grip.
However, that doesn’t make crushing useless. Developing a stronger crushing grip will carry over to your supporting grip. The supporting grip is trained isometrically while the crushing grip is developing your grip dynamically.
IronMind equipment are the best in the world when it comes to strength and grip equipment. You know you’re buying from a trusted brand.
Other branded grippers will have their springs loosen over time with use. The heavy duty metal used for the Captains of Crush won’t give you those problems.
Further, these grippers can get pretty beat up with time and use and still be great.
I would highly recommend buying 2-3 gripper to begin with. If you just buy one, you will have either:
- No gripper to warm-up with, OR
- Your gripper is a warm-up and you have no stronger one to train with.
So make sure you get one that is decently challenging and then one that is more difficult to close.
If you have normal sized hands, and haven’t done any grip training before, I would recommend using the No. 1 as your “working” gripper. It’s strong enough that you may not even close it the first time using it, and if you do, it will still provide decent resistance for reps.
For your warm-up gripper, the Trainer is great. Don’t let the name fool you. The Trainer is still decently tough especially if you want to bang out reps.
As you get comfortable with the No. 1, I would advise you to take the opposite approach to what I did.
That is, make sure to buy in 0.5 increments!
The jump from No. 1 to No. 2 is no joke. I have closed the No. 2 gripper but it is damn tough and I can’t get more than one rep with it. If I had the No. 1.5, then I could work closer to the No. 2 instead of making such a big jump.
For females, I would advise starting at the bottom with the Guide and Sport Captains of Crush.
In terms of exercise versatility, these only serve one purpose. And that is to develop crushing grip with the grippers. However, there’s no better tool for it than the Captains of Crush. They are easy to transport with you wherever you go and can even sit with you at your desk while at work.
Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned from using these and reading about grip training technique.
- Make sure you learn how to set up the gripper properly in your hand. This will literally dictate whether you can close the gripper or not.
- Use chalk if you have it. Even though the gripper has knurling, it can still get slippery.
- Tape one end of the gripper to save your hand from the knurling. Then your fingers use the knurling end.
Favourite Exercise To Perform With Captains Of Crush
My favourite exercise variation when using the Captains of Crush is performing a set of 5 closes followed by a 10 second isometric hold on the last rep.
If that doesn’t blow up your forearms, nothing will.
IronMind Tough As Nails Sandbag Set
I actually found my IronMind Tough As Nails Sandbag off of Craigslist during my time in the USA. Luckily for me (and unluckily for this guy), his ex-wife was selling all of his gym equipment. One of these pieces of equipment was the sandbag with about 90 kg of sand in it.
Damn was this thing heavy! And it wasn’t even a quarter full. The loading potential of this bag suits literally anybody’s strength needs. Hence why they are used in the World’s Strongest Man competition. Those large blue sandbags you see on ESPN? Yep, those are these IronMind sandbags.
Anyway, back to my story. I was only just able to lift this thing into the back of my truck with no warm-up. I feel sorry for the guy losing all his gym equipment like that but, it became a bargain for me.
The sandbag material used is the most durable you’ll find for this purpose. Cheaper sandbags will start to tear as you pick them up and throw them down on different surfaces. Not this bag.
It comes with the inner sandbag lining that can be filled with literally anything. Fully loaded with sand, it weighs 300 lbs which, if you’ve ever performed sandbag training, is ridiculously heavy. So you have plenty of life when progressing with your sandbag training.
The bag comes in one size but depending on how full you fill it, it will obviously be smaller or larger. My sandbag was maybe 1/5th full but was very heavy still even though it was of a smaller size.
If you wanted to create a bigger sandbag to replicate bear hugging an opponent, you could always fill the desired weight in sand and fill the rest with old clothing or rags to pad it out.
This is where the IronMind Tough As Nails Sandbag shines. You can use it to train all varieties of grip strength as well as develop overall body strength for grappling by using different carry variations.
While traveling with it can be difficult if it is fully loaded, having it stored away in your backyard or gym provides easy enough access to use it each session.
You have plenty of options such as monkey grip bear hug carrying, clean and press, and even gripping the bag itself like a Gi to pick it up and move it.
The awkward object training using the sandbag will develop strength that can be instantly transferred to grappling.
Here is a pro tip when using the IronMind Tough As Nails Sandbag:
- Perform heavy sandbag carries at the end of your training. Your traditional lifting will warm your back and legs up well to be able to handle awkward objects.
Favourite Exercise To Perform With The IronMind Sandbag
My all-time favourite IronMind Sandbag exercise is the bear hug carry. You can develop some serious back and truck strength while specifically training the ability to keep your hands connected in a Gable grip or hand over wrist grip.
You can even make it more challenging by not connecting the hands and monkey gripping the sandbag turning it into a worst case scenario variation for when you aren’t able to connect your hands around an opponent.
IronMind Expand Your Hands
When you perform too much bench pressing and not enough back work, you can fall into the postural trap of forward or rounded shoulders which can lead to a shoulder injury. The same thing can be said when performing a lot of grip work. It needs some remedial work to balance out all the gripping.
That is where these affordable IronMind Expand Your Hands bands come into play. I’ve used the small elastic bands that come around your broccoli and even the small ones that tie up the large elastic strength bands.
These do work. But they are so thin that they can potentially break or they flick off of your fingers. Further, they don’t vary in resistance so you’re stuck using one resistance.
The IronMind Expand Your Hands come with a 5 different levels so you can work your way up as your extensors get stronger. If you have any kind of elbow pain, these are the perfect remedy.
These are much more durable than your typical rubber bands on your veggies. IronMind Expand Your Hands have been specifically designed for one purpose. To train your finger extensors.
You don’t have to worry about which resistance to buy. The pack comes with all 5 resistance levels so you can work your way from the bottom to the top.
IronMind Expand Your Hands are simply thicker, more durable rubber bands that can be taken anywhere with you. You can even have them with you while you’re stuck in traffic!
Their sole purpose is to train your finger extensors but for the price, they are well worth it.
Here is a quick pro tip when using the IronMind Expand Your Hands:
- Don’t try to open your hand all the way with your fingers straight. No bands are designed that way and the band will slip off or down your fingers.
Favourite Exercise To Do With IronMind Expand Your Hands
I like to do a similar rep scheme as with the IronMind Captains of Crush. 10-20 reps of extensions and then holding your fingers open against the band for 10 seconds on your last rep. You’ll feel it on the top of your forearm.
IronMind Rolling Thunder & Olympic Loading Pin
If you’ve caught the grip training bug and want to have some more variety, challenge, and fun with it, then this is the piece of equipment you need.
See it in action below.
What makes the IronMind Rolling Thunder handle more challenging over the Fat Gripz or other fat bars is that the handle rolls. Meaning the weight will always pull straight down between your fingers and thumb increasing the grip strength needed to pick up any load.
This is one product that I have not used personally so I’m not going to break it down much further. But this piece is definitely on my equipment wish list for the home gym.
You can load your grip with some serious poundage and with the added difficultly of the roll, it’d likely transfer even better to gripping sweaty wrists during no-gi grappling.
Simply attach it to the Olympic Loading Pin and you’re good to go!