Typically, hand strength is tested using a piece of equipment called a hand dynamometer. There are numerous styles and types of dynamometers but they are all designed basically the same. The trigger of the device is squeezed with maximum effort and held for five seconds.
Results are determined from the best of several tests after allowing a minimum of at least 15 seconds recovery time between each attempt. Improvement is measured by comparing results of previous test to current tests. Assuming that ongoing training is practised between tests, improvements should register on the dynamometer. The validity of test results obtained using dynamometers is sometimes questioned as there are various conditions that can affect the outcome.
Here is a brief rundown of the pros and cons of using this type of hand grip strength test.
- The test is very simple and easy to administer for both right and left handed individuals.
- The dynamometer is a widely used and accepted strength testing device so there is a concise and consistent score chart.
- Users must be sure to recalibrate the dynamometer as necessary to ensure accurate results.
- Rest periods between tests must always be the same to ensure accuracy.
- Techniques and arm positions can vary widely from test to test. To be certain that results are true, individuals must repeat the test exactly the same way every time.
- The dynamometer must be adjusted to the hand size of the individual, which can result in improper results if not done properly.
- The dynamometer does not isolate hand strength alone as it requires the use of forearm strength as well.
- Final results are greatly determined by an individual’s motivation for completing the test.
Although there appear to be both advantages and disadvantages to using a dynamometer to measure hand strength, it is still the most reliable method available. Exercising the hand regularly can improve and maintain hand grip strength.
Simple hand strength exercises include squeezing a tennis ball or bean bag for 8-10 repetitions. Hand pushing exercises can be done anywhere any time without equipment. Simply place your hands together prayer style and apply light pressure, holding and relaxing for several repetitions.
Hand grip exercises can help to increase the forearm strength that is essential to rock climbing and bouldering. Hanging from a chin up bar is a great grip exercise but so is simply walking while gripping hand weights.
The most important element to remember is to include a variety of exercises in your work outs. Try to incorporate hand, wrist, finger and forearm exercises into each workout. This will ultimately provide the best training for overall strength.