I’m a big fan of finding ways to do exercises so they serve more than one purpose. Not only can this save time, but it can enhance your strength, physique, and performance if used properly. This article will focus on altering some traditional bodybuilding exercises so they not only train the targeted muscle group but the grip and forearm as well.
In my opinion, grip strength is one of the more overlooked aspects of athletic development. Almost any athlete will benefit from a stronger grip, from strongmen and powerlifters to football players, wrestlers, and mixed martial artists.
For physique athletes, adding a grip element to an exercise will give you a more powerful look due to forearm muscle hypertrophy and could spur new growth in the targeted muscle because of enhanced mechanical tension.
Of course, you can accomplish some of this by using a thick bar or Fat Gripz, but the kettlebells offer a unique challenge if you focus on keeping the kettlebell straight. As you will see in the videos, using the kettlebells force the wrist extensors to work during movements for the shoulders, while the wrist flexors, supinators, and pronators must work while training the biceps (obviously this may change if you switch up your hand placement). During these exercises you will probably notice a lot more tension in your deltoids and biceps because you are forced to squeeze the kettlebells very hard.
Below are some of my favorite exercises.
KB Front Raise
KB Side Raise
KB Reverse Fly
KB Hammer Curl
KB Zottman Curl
As you can see in some of the videos, these exercises are quite challenging (I was only using an 8kg kettlebell). This is by no means an exhaustive list of exercises, but it should give you a good start. Be advised: if you’ve never done exercises like this before or don’t train your grip regularly, you may not want to do anything that requires fine motor skills with your hands afterwards! Give them a try, use your imagination to come up with new exercises, and enjoy some new gains!