Get a Grip
What are your strengths? Where are your weaknesses? In the gym and in life we have strengths and weaknesses. Some strengths came easily to us and others were hard earned. Some weaknesses we choose to ignore and others we’ve battled with forever despite a high effort. The last sample is the one I’d like to focus on today. The things that we know are weak, we focus on them, yet we can’t seem to connect the dots.
What movements in the gym fall into this category? What areas of your life fall into this category? What I’ve found is that many things that go into this list don’t need to stay there. Often we have a high level of competency in these areas. We’ve tried over and over applying the concepts, making mistakes, and trying to fix them. More often than not we are one small breakthrough away from making the weakness not one any more! But what does that breakthrough look like?
Often our breakthroughs are not groundbreaking. They’re usually the little things. Maybe we choose to ignore them. Maybe we take them for granted. Or maybe we don’t believe the person pointing it out. Maybe our ego is too big and we refuse to make a change that makes us feel temporarily weaker. The greatest example I can think of in the gym is bar gymnastics. You’ve got strict pullups. You’ve got strict dips. You’ve got strong hip flexors and flexible hamstrings. But you can’t gain control of the kip for chest to bar pullups or toes to bar? What is it. The biggest cause of this weakness…….is grip strength. Grip strength, what are you talking about? When we kip, we must be able to pull from behind the bar. That means we need to have a strong grip from a “behind the bar” angle. If my wrist is lined up perpendicular to the floor, then it will be in an extended or weak position behind the bar, not conducive to pulling strong. If my wrist is flexed when hanging from the bar, in a “big knuckle up” position, then it will be a straight wrist when I pull behind and setup for a strong pull. We talk about it all the time and often it goes to the wind. It’s uncomfortable. Hell yeah it is. It is til it isn’t. Everything that is different than what we’re currently doing makes us uncomfortable.
So how do we fix it? What are the simple cues that we choose to ignore? Coach says,” Hey, you should wrap your thumb around the bar.” Me,”But I’m used to my thumb on top of the bar.” Yeah it’s different. Yeah, it’s uncomfortable. However, it is a necessity for grip strength. Could you open a pickle jar without your thumb on the other side of the top? Wrapping your thumb allows you to maintain your grip longer. It creates 360 degrees of contact with the bar. It allows you to “bend” the bar, creating external shoulder rotation. That rotation keeps the shoulders in a stronger position in turn allowing you to control the movement through your shoulders instead of having torque overload going up your arm into your hands forcing you to lose your grip. Run on sentence? Yes. Facts? Yes. Wrap your thumb, improve your grip. Improve your grip, improve your gymnastics. A simple fix that may allow you to break through.
I challenge you all to point out two areas where you can be more humble about your struggles. One in the gym and one out of the gym. What are they? Is there a simple fix? Is there a simple solution that won’t fix it all the way but can make things a lot better? Share them with me. If anything maybe I have a similar struggle or experience you can draw upon. Let’s not beat our heads against the bricks any longer. Be open to change, to help, to discomfort. Don’t struggle by choice. Get a grip.