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How To Build Hand, Finger And Grip Strength With Calisthenics

By Al Kadavlo

Al Kavadlo is one of the world’s leading experts in bodyweight strength training and calisthenics. The author of five books, including Zen Mind, Strong Body and Pushing The Limits!
Read more.

Grip strength is arguably the most functional type of strength out there.

From carrying bags of shopping to opening jars and packages, we use our hands in day-to-day activities more than any other part of the body.

The hands are also a crucial component of many classic strength training exercises like pull-ups, deadlifts and military presses, so having strong hands and a powerful grip will help your training all around.

Below are a few simple ways that you can improve your finger, hand and grip strength without requiring weights or any special equipment. These exercises can be especially “handy” when you don’t have time to make it to the gym for a workout.

Building Your Grip Strength

Fingertip Push-ups

The fingertip push-up is a very simple exercise that can take your hand strength to new heights.

By performing push-ups without your palms touching the ground, you involve a whole slew of muscles that would otherwise be neglected. The fingers, hands and forearms all get significant activation when performing this calisthenics staple.

Finger Push Ups

If you don’t have the ability to do fingertip push-ups yet, try practicing the isometric plank position on your fingertips. Start with a few seconds at a time – eventually you should be able to build to a ten-second fingertip plank.

Once you’ve achieved that, you’ll be ready to start practicing fingertip push-ups. Begin with just a few reps and slowly add more over time. Eventually you might be strong enough to try holding a fingertip plank on just one hand. A few select individuals can even perform a one arm push-up in this fashion.

It’s important to note that the term “fingertip push-up” is a bit of a misnomer. You don’t actually want to be all the way on the tips of your fingers, but rather on the pads of your fingers with the tips slightly bent back. Just don’t allow any part of your palm to touch the ground if you want it to be legit.

Bar Hangs

Bar Hangs

Pull-ups can do a lot for your grip on their own, but if you want to give your hands and grip some extra attention, I recommend you spend some time just hanging from the bar as well. Once you are strong enough to hang for a full minute, you can try doing single-arm hangs to increase the intensity.

Start with both hands on the bar, and then carefully remove one, doing your best to hang on with the other hand. When you feel your grip beginning to slip, carefully switch hands and hang on as long as possible with the opposite side.

With any type of bar hang, focus on staying engaged through your shoulders and lats as well as your grip. Don’t allow your shoulders to shrug up by your ears and don't let your chin to collapse into your chest.


Finger Push Ups

Holding a handstand is a great way to give your hands and fingers an intense workout. When you hold yourself upside down with all of your weight supported on your hands, they have to work very hard to maintain the position.

Start off practicing against a wall and focus on gripping the ground as hard as you can so that the wall doesn't do too much of the work for you

Eventually you can gain the strength and balance to practice holding a freestanding handstand without the support of the wall. Freestanding handstands are a tremendous way to strengthen your hands. With enough practice, you might even be able to do a handstand on just your fingertips!

Remember to tread slowly with these exercises and don’t expect too much, too soon. It takes patience and dedication to build hand and grip strength. These exercises will be challenging, but they should not be painful. Take your time and enjoy the journey.

Al Kavadlo

About Al

Al Kavadlo is one of the world’s leading experts in bodyweight strength training and calisthenics. The author of five books, including Zen Mind, Strong Body and Pushing The Limits!, Kavadlo is famous for smiling while performing some of the most difficult bodyweight exercises imaginable.

Al’s no-nonsense approach to fitness and unbridled enthusiasm for calisthenics is tough to ignore. As lead instructor for the Progressive Calisthenics Certification (PCC), Al gets to bring his unique coaching style to fitness trainers and enthusiasts around the globe.

For more information, go to or follow Al’s instagram page.

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