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Simple But Effective Grip Strengthening Exercise

By September 18, 2013January 15th, 2014Strength Training

My friend Mike Peltz, co-owner of Revolution Training Systems in Tempe, Arizona, showed me this very simple yet effective grip strengthening exercise last week. They’re called Bench Squeezes. All you do is grip the bench as hard as possible for time. Wrap your thumb around as shown in the video and perform a crushing isohold. I’ll let Mike explain it to you:

At first I was skeptical as it seems so simple. I was wondering why the exercise isn’t more popular. But when people who are much stronger than you are performing it, you tend to pay attention.

I’ve been doing these for a couple of weeks now and can already see a positive transfer to my deadlift grip strength. Mikey does a ton of volume on these. I’ve been doing them twice per week with 2 sets of 20 seconds narrow and 2 sets of 20 seconds out wide. Seems to do the trick!

They don’t require special equipment, they don’t chew up the hands, they don’t load up the spine, and they’re very effective.

If you desire some increased grip strength, give these a try!



  • Sansan says:

    Bret, won’t this be bad for carpal tunnel syndrome?

  • John V says:

    Don’t want to overcomplicate anything simple, but how do you improve on this exercise? Using a harder bench? Holding for longer? more sets? Increasing the thickness with yoga mats or something?

    Do you think if you don’t train grip that this is sufficient for “grip training”

    How many times per week do you recommend this?

    Do you think doing this on an airex pad or 2 pads would be a similar exercise?

    Thanks Bret

  • Jolanda says:

    Awesome! Needed that!

  • Martin says:

    Would these still be helpful if you’re using a thick bar or Fat Gripz etc and therefore already using a crushing grip, or would it just be duplication (or even too much)?

  • Marissa says:

    I’ll start giving these a try! I find that I feel limited by my grip strength when dead lifting. Hopefully this will help me out!

  • dino says:

    If a bench is not available would gripping around a rolled up towel or the edge of an office chair work? In theory it should, its just an iso hold, unless there is something specific about a bench that is over my head. What do you think?

    • Bret says:

      Yes, I think it would work indeed.

    • Antinatter says:

      I think one important factor could be the “give” of the foam of the bench. John Brookfield has said very explicitly that in his opinion squeezing exercises work best when the surface has at least a little give to it. So a draped towel or something similar would probably be better than just the metal or the wood.

  • Arturo says:

    Bret, I have been wanting to ask you a question for months now, but I guess you’re hard to reach via e-mail. I have been following you since your begginings and we exchanged many mails a few years ago. I really have a question that I think you are the most qualified to answer… please, I know you are super busy but where can I reach you privately? Or should I just ask this stuff here in public?


  • Jake Marshall says:

    Bret, I’m proud to announce I just got 700lbs for a 1RM on hip thrusters. Glute zilla is here! Check out my vid!

  • Antinatter says:

    Damn. Always something new under the sun!

  • Stuart says:

    That is indeed a serious deadlift. I think I should try doing it in the gym. problem is, most of the time, i feel my hands shake when i lift. and that’s when i start breathing hard.

  • Chase says:

    Never tried this method. I always used thick bar grips or adjustable hand grippers to increase grip strength. I found that the thick bar grips like Fat Gripz and Etho Active gamma gripz worked pretty good.

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