Rugby Strength Training: Grip Strength

It should be obvious that improving your grip strength can enhance your rugby performance. Whether it’s holding onto the ball in attack or clinging on to a ball carrier for a last ditch tackle in defence, grip strength could be the difference between winning or losing.

Grip strength can also enhance your other lifting, especially deadlifts and chin ups. It may even be the limiting factor that has stopped you from progressing on those lifts.

And let’s face it, hand and wrist injuries are pretty common in rugby so you need to know how to rehab them and get them back to strength for competition.

In this article we provide some great grip strength exercises and techniques to rehab injury, increase your lifts and improve your performance on the field.

Rugby Strength Training: Grip Strength

Rehab Grip Strength Exercises

Rice Bucket Great for finger and hand strength coming back from injury. 3-4 sets of 20-30s should do the trick but progress slowly if rehabbing an injury.

Screwdriver Simple but effective for grip and forearm strength and if you’ve ever put up flat pack furniture you’ll know you’re in for a massive forearm pump! For rehab purposes we have our lads screw 3-4 screws in at the start of the session and unscrew 3-4 at the end.

Grip Strength Exercises

Pinch gripping easy to add into a session and great for finger strength, just use some barbell plates or the end of a hex bar dumbbell and hold for time 20-30s each arm should suffice and slowly increase the load you can use.

Fat Gripz an awesome tool for grip strength but can also be excellent for alleviating elbow and shoulder pain for individuals who suffer from it. Best used with pulling exercises for grip but can be used with most exercises. Try high rep single arm db rows to really challenge the grip shoot for 3 sets of 20-25 reps.

Kettlebells We usually use them for fat loss and conditioning but high rep swings and snatches will build a powerful grip. Try doing sets for time, max reps in 30-60s.

Farmers Walks these build total body strength and really challenge the core and grip. Dead easy to set up too. Just pick up two heavy dumbbells and walk! A good target is to get ½ bodyweight in each hand. You can mix them up by performing suitcase carries and waiter carries too.

Ropes If you want to build a big back and biceps while improving your grip strength ropes could be for you. Rope sled pulls and rope climbs are excellent for this and try to incorporate rope battles into your conditioning too.

Complexes Try any barbell complex for 5-8 reps on each exercise and you will understand why these are good for building grip strength. You can end up with a decent weight barbell in your hands for over a minute whilst moving against load. Pick 4-6 exercises that flow well and perform for 5-8 reps with a good weight and you should see some good results.


Don’t let your grip strength hold you back in the gym or on the rugby field. Give some of these exercises a try and you will soon have Popeye forearms!

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