There is little doubt that the best way for climbers to improve their grip strength is to actually climb, but sometimes getting on the wall as often as you’d like is difficult.
Whether you’re stuck at a desk job or find yourself traveling often and unable to get in climbing time, there are certain grip strengthening options to consider.
Grip strengtheners are often thought of as mere gimmicks, but there are actually a few options on the market that actually do what they are supposed to do. Grip strengtheners even come in a variety of styles, not just the classic hand grip strengthener commonly seen in gyms.
If you’re looking for a device that will help you increase your grip strength to specifically help with climbing, here are the top 5 models to choose from.
Up first is the Gripmaster hand strengthener, a very effective device that is equally popular amongst musicians as it is among climbers. The main reason behind how well the Gripmaster works for climbers is that it doesn’t just focus on total grip strength, but also helps in individual finger strength.
The original Gripmaster comes in three different resistance options that would be useful for climbers:
Each lb of resistance is per each finger, not the overall device.
The Gripmaster works for both the left and right hand, plus it is small enough to fit in your pocket, backpack, purse, etc. Each finger button is spring-loaded, allowing you to not only improve your finger grip but also practice a controlled release of tension as well. The palm bar is nicely shaped and is comfortable on the hand for extended sessions.
Prices for the Gripmaster vary slightly from retailers, but may be found for $14.50 up to $16 (check here for the latest price).
Let’s say you are a big fan of the classic grip strength tools often used by bodybuilders. These aren’t going to help a lot with finger strength, but are still very effective for overall hand strength. If you want this style, you can’t go wrong with Captains of Crush Grippers.
The Captains of Crush Grippers are incredibly durable and well-designed., and better yet, they come in an incredible array of strengths. You can find 11 different strengths to choose from, which vary from a 60lb resistance for novices up to an incredible 365lb resistance that is reserved for only the strongest individuals.
Chances are if you’re a climber you’ll get the most use from the 60lb (#1401), the 80lb (#1402), and the 100lb (#1250). Experienced climbers that already have a super grip may even work up to the 195lb (#1252) depending on how often they use their Grippers.
Captains of Crush Grippers are made in the USA and are made of GR8 accurate, precision springs. They are comfortable to hold and have enough texture your hand won’t slip but not so much it is uncomfortable to use.
The Grippers are sold individually and retail for $22.95 each (check here for the latest price).
A unique take on the classic Gripper-style hand strengthener is Fitness Insanity’s Hand Grip Strength Trainer Kit. This kit is available on Amazon, retailing for only $12.88 (check here for the latest price). While this product is sold for general strengthening and stress/anxiety relief, it works great for the average climber.
The kit comes with the grip strength trainer itself along with 2 hand therapy balls, similar to your typical stress ball in design but with greater resistance. The range of resistance on the gripper itself is 22lbs up to 88lbs. There is a knob device on the trainer to adjust the resistance easily.
The ability to adjust resistance is very useful as it eliminates the need to carry multiple tools with you. It also allows for a safer “workout”, meaning you can adjust the device low as a warm-up, gradually build up the intensity, and then cool down back as a lower resistance.
The versatility combined with the incredibly low price means the Hand Grip Strength Trainer is a great choice for more novice climbers that don’t want to spend $20+.
Many grip strengtheners naturally focus on increasing total hand grip, but this leaves the fingers only getting a minimal amount of work.
Even devices like the Gripmaster which do work on the fingers only work on adduction, meaning the resistance occurs when gripping down. Effective climbing requires finger strength not in just the grip, but also in abduction, which equates to strength in opening your fist.
The PowerFingers Climbing System is one of few devices which works on finger strength via abduction. This odd-looking disc-shaped device also aids in building hand, wrist, forearm and elbow strength as well. PowerFingers Systems are sold in a multi-pack of 5, each color-coded for their tension. The intensity grows from the lightest color to the darkest.
There is a huge number of ways you can use these stretchy devices, including with one hand or both, and abduction or adduction exercises. PowerFingers sets come in a variety of different systems, but obviously, the one specifically made for climbing is your best bet.
Included in the $29.95 price tag are all 5 devices as well as a list of helpful exercises specifically chosen for climbers(check for the latest price).
Metolius GripSaver Plus is not only unique in its design, but also in the fact that it’s one of few grip strengtheners specifically made for climbers.
The GripSaver Plus combines the classic squeeze resistance of a stress ball and the finger strengthening power of the aforementioned PowerFingers system. In fact, the device itself looks like a finger strengthener sprouting out of a stress ball.
The GripSaver Plus is ideal for everything from rehab to serious training. It has been carefully designed by a doctor to ensure it safely works the fingers, wrist, forearm, and elbow safely and effectively.
It focuses on enhancing natural range of motion, which helps eliminate the danger of injury or stress from poorly designed devices. This makes the GripSaver Plus perfect for serious climbers that want a total hand workout, including improving their finger strength and dexterity.
The GripSaver Plus comes in 3 different firmnesses – Soft/Blue, Regular/Red and Hard/Orange. You can purchase this item individually or save money by purchasing a trio (including one of each firmness levels).
If purchased individually it will cost $17.95 (check here for the latest price) but a trio is $38.50 (check here for the latest price). If you’re torn between the idea of the PowerFingers but need more grip training, this device is the sweet spot.
It’s important to keep in mind that there is no tool on the market that is a replacement for actual climbing when it comes to improving your hand and finger strength.
However, in combination with regular climbing sessions and perhaps even some time in the gym, these tools can be very helpful in maintaining or increasing overall motion and strength on a daily basis.
Don’t forget that these devices can also be helpful for therapeutic use or to help with symptoms of carpal tunnel and other climbing-related stresses. If you do have an injury be sure to consult your doctor prior to using any of the above devices.
Sam Hardy is an outdoor enthusiast with a penchant for survival skills. He writes about the great outdoors and his favorite equipment here.