How to build upper arm and hand strength?


October 27, 2008, 06:33 PM
Besides shooting, what's the best exercise to increase upper arm strength and finger pull?

I was shooting at the range yesterday and after 200 rounds with 386/38spec fatigue in my arms was noticeable.

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The Kershaw
October 27, 2008, 06:48 PM
Lift weights.

October 27, 2008, 08:17 PM
what he said^^^

to help strengthen small "helper/stabilizer" muscles in your shoulders, hold a 10lb or 15lb weight in one hand, raise it slowly, with arm straight out, to shoulder height, then slowly lower, do it in front of your body and at your side, do like 3 or 4 sets of 8-10 reps with each arm.

as far as grip strength goes, just do more stuff that requires a strong grip,(for example, build something with a 28oz framing hammer:evil:) or use those grip exercisers they have for guitarists. You'll have forearms like a gorilla (take a look at jerry miculek, i have shaken his hand and i felt like he could crush mine like a beer can), and carpal tunnel syndrome, but you'll be able to pull a trigger really easy.

Of course I would just get out and shoot more, but that's me.

October 27, 2008, 08:21 PM
Pull ups help your grip alot, if you want a hardcore grip exercise put tennis balls in each hand and put them on top of the bull up bar and do pull ups... you will literally feel the BURN... haha.

October 27, 2008, 08:31 PM
Pull ups.
Farmers Walks
Forearm stuff
Shoulder excercises

Works nicely for shooting hand guns.

October 27, 2008, 08:32 PM
when i was 11, i had HUGE muscles...

October 27, 2008, 08:39 PM
Go rock climbing, incredibly fun and it will build the muscles you're looking for.

October 27, 2008, 08:57 PM
There was a time in the late '70's when (age 21) I thought that I'd probably be going to jail for an infraction. I knew I'd want a lot of handstrength. You figure it out. Anyway, I had a 6' chain for locking up my motorcycle. The links were about 2" long each, and made of 3/8" heat-treated boron steel and plastic coated (was then sold by Sears). The chain weighed about 25 lbs. Standing on a chair, I'd start with the second link between my thumb and forefinger, and work the chain through my fingers from one end to the other, and then back again in the opposite direction. I'd do this until my hand was too tired to do any more, then change hands. After about a month of this, I could take the bathroom scale and squeezing in both hands (at the same time), I could spin the dial until it reached it's mechanical limit of 360 lbs.
Any 6' length of "logging chain" should do nicely. The higher the chair you can stand on, the greater the weight of the chain you'll be working with. It goes pretty easily front-to-back, but back-to-front will give your fingers and thumb a serious workout. You WILL end up with a gorilla-grip and Popeye forearms.
Btw, I didn't end up going to jail.

October 28, 2008, 01:13 AM
They do sell hand grips with independent finger springs for helping with shooting and finger control. You can also do the standard curls, triceps extension, seated press, flys, and rowing with a dumbell. Any weight training with a dumbell will naturally work the forearms and grip.

October 28, 2008, 01:18 AM
Don't just build up a couple small muscle groups. Do a balanced weight workout, making sure that you don't miss these groups.

For grip and finger strength, a "wrist roller" works better than any of the finger exercisers I've tried, and doesn't take long to use.

2" PVC pipe, a few feet of rope tied through a hole in the center of it, a hook on the end. Hook a 5 lb. weight on the end, and roll it up fast, then down slowly, first overhand, then underhand. Repeat. Move up to higher weights as you gain strength.

DO NOT DO THIS TOO OFTEN. Every 2 days, max.

October 28, 2008, 01:32 AM
Nothing has been better for me than pull-ups and chin-ups. I also have gotten into playing on monkey bars that are made for big kids. I could see myself getting into rock climbing after I get a bit stronger. I can't imagine anything that could build finger and upper arm strength better than rock climbing. Mind you, I'm talking about useful strength, not max bench press strength.

October 28, 2008, 11:13 AM
2" PVC pipe, a few feet of rope tied through a hole in the center of it, a hook on the end. Hook a 5 lb. weight on the end, and roll it up fast, then down slowly, first overhand, then underhand. Repeat. Move up to higher weights as you gain strength.
I more or less did that excercise along with pullups and farmer walks. It was night and day. After a few months, a 9mm felt like a cap gun in my hands.

October 28, 2008, 12:47 PM
The wrist roller is an excellent way to build strength and lots of bodybuilders use these. Squeezing a handball is good for hand strength. The spring clamps used to hold plates onto a barbell are better at building strength than the hand exercisers you buy in the stores.

Or, you could just run a chainsaw cutting down and bucking up trees, then splitting the rounds for two or three days a week. You get lots of strength and cardiovascular exercise as well!:D

October 28, 2008, 03:54 PM
I hardly lifted any weights when I was in the service, but I got pretty strong. And it stays with you as long as you aren't a sedentary slob.
Chin-ups or a pull-up bar and plenty of dedication.
Don't underestimate the power of the push-up. And modify them too; do diamonds, wide armed, and even elevate your legs to maximize difficulty and to really blow apart your muscles.

October 28, 2008, 06:08 PM
Lifting weights has a place, but it's way beyond where most people are.

Until you can drop and do 75 pushups, do a lot of pullups, and do a few hundred situps, you shouldn't go near a weight set, unless you are worried about looking pretty and not practical strength.

For grip strenght, nothing beats these Captains of Crush grippers. I'm up to 200 lbs now, it's EXTREMELY difficult, but you gain strength very very quickly. 4 months ago I could hardly close the trainer. Get them now if you want to have an amazing grip.

October 28, 2008, 11:39 PM
Pull - ups. If you really want to isolate your forearms -
Put one of those weight bars in your hands and hold them out 90 degrees then rotate your hands to turn the bar. 8 or 10 lb to start with if you don't work out. It sounds light but just wait after 15 seconds you will wish it weighed less. twist the bar in your hands 1 direction until you can't do another rep. Rest then go the other direction. Do it again, rest, again, rest, again until you just cant take it. After doing this a few weeks, then up the weight on the bar and keep progressing. Each alot of cottage cheese or casein shakes (slow digesting protein) before going to bed and you will wake up with Popeye forearms and be able to open any glass jar. Your grip will be so strong that you can hang from a bar without strain or carry around 100 lb dumbbells without your grip getting sore.

Hostile Amish
October 28, 2008, 11:41 PM
Pull-ups work great for building arm strength. But arm strength in itself will not make you resistant to fatigue whilst shooting. Keep burning through that ammo, and you won't feel it after a while.

October 29, 2008, 12:48 AM
There's a reason everybody keeps saying pull-ups. Nothing builds upper-body pulling strength quite like them.

Modern weightlifting mostly consists of isolation exercises: the biceps curl is an excellent example. They'll build big biceps while doing nothing for the real pulling apparatus of the upper body: the lats, which run from the neck to the lowest vertebra, and from the spine out to the shoulders. When in real life are you going to walk up to something heavy and deliberately isolate your arm at the elbow to pick it up? Instead, you'll do a full-body lifting motion, using the legs, the lats, a flat back...

For shooting, I guess you'd mostly want to do overhead lifting and pull-ups. For grip strength, two things come to mind: hold a heavy length of pipe/ firewood splitting maul/ sledgehammer vertically in your grip, extended out in front of you. Lean it slowly back until it almost hits you in the head, then straighten it out again. Repeat. OR, one of my favorites for building the kind of grip strength I need in brazilian jiu jitsu, throw the top of a gi (the big bathrobe-looking thing people wear to train a lot of different martial arts) over a rafter and do pull-ups on the gi. Use a tree limb if you don't have exposed rafters; use a towel if you don't have a gi. Regardless, grab a handful of fabric with both hands and go for it.

Those little grip strength toys probably work great, too, like people are recommending, but if you're going to put the time in, it might as well be on something that works a lot of things all at once and chains numerous muscle groups together, rather than isolating them. Hope this helps.

October 29, 2008, 01:03 AM
I agree with the big exercise thing- if you have the time and space. I keep a thing of Power Putty and a Dyna-flex Ball on my desk at work. I can strengthen my grip and forearms while I am staring at the computer. I tried splitting wood, but the guy in the next office wasn't happy so I stopped.:D

October 29, 2008, 11:03 AM

October 29, 2008, 11:06 AM
Until you can drop and do 75 pushups, do a lot of pullups, and do a few hundred situps, you shouldn't go near a weight set, unless you are worried about looking pretty and not practical strength.


Weights allow you to build strength and endurance at any level, because you can control them. They also allow the targeting of muscle groups like rotator cuffs that get trashed by a "just do it" mentality.

I'm not talking about bench press, which I've become convinced isn't worth doing because it can trash the shoulders and biceps tendons. Dumbbell chest press, though, can work great, and allows the the vast majority of even fit people, who can't do 75 pushups, to get a workout.

But properly used, with education, weights and cables can allow a lot of functional gains. They also allow enough variety in how each muscle group is worked, to avoid repetitive motion injuries that are inevitable if one has a really limited number of exercises they do often.

The whole "do pushups and pullups" thing may be fine -- for a while -- if you're already fit and in your early 20s with no previous injuries, though it misses a lot of your body. Otherwise, though, jumping into boot camp calisthenics without much education about the body can wreck you real quick.

Like anything else: knowledge is power. Don't just throw yourself into a sport or exercise, especially after a few years without it. It's easy to get caught in a loop of pushing yourself, getting hurt, getting better, pushing yourself, getting hurt, until some of the injuries don't heal. It's not the big injuries that are the problem; injuries to joints and small muscles, especially repetitive motion injuries, can be crippling.

Been there, done that. Ultimately got my CSCS.

October 29, 2008, 07:33 PM
Weight training is great. Start off with light weights(5-20lbs) for high reps(20-30). If you can't push out 20 reps go to a lighter weight. Remember to use strict form, don't cheat. Natural movements, if the lift feels uncomfortable to do, don't do it.

Feel free to PM me.

October 30, 2008, 12:18 AM
I challenge you guys, of whatever physical level, to try my chain-thing. Try it, especially the back-to-front part.

I've used the spring-handled device. It works ok. I've done, and worn slap-out the excercise balls.

I double-dog dare you to stand on a tall chair and try the chain. "Try" it. Let me know what you think.

October 30, 2008, 12:32 AM
32winspl, if you could do that in the 70's wow. Right now if you can do that it is considered WORLD class hand strenght.

Check this site out for some awesome grip info, I am in no way affliated with them.

October 30, 2008, 01:38 AM
Hey Crazy, I went to the website you suggested. and really can't or don't believe what I read there. Either what I read there is way out of line (seriously under-rated)with reality, or I was, as a beer swilling, pot smoking, cartoon-watching super-man. ....and I don't believe that for an instant. When I say that I was approaching 300 lbs, I in noway am suggesting that I was some serious power-lifter. I was/am about 5'9" tall. While it is true that I was in considerably better shape than compared to now, I don't for an instant believe that I was anywhere close to being a "prime" guy. It just isn't so. Yes, I might have been in pretty good shape for a serious beer-drinker. I worked on a horse farm and threw haybales pretty high on a hay wagon. But something isn't adding up. Maybe my bathroom scale was immensely inaccurate. There is no doubt that I had "good" left-hand-strength being a guitarist, but I disagree that I EVER had anything apprroaching world-class hand strength. I no longer have a chain. Nor am I interested in getting one. I do, however, maintain that anyone interested in seriously increasing their handstrength, buy a 6' length of 3/8"X2" chain and work it through their fingers, in both directions, as I did.... while standing on a chair or bar-stool.
I hope that someone will take me up on this. I went into my bathroom a couple of minutes ago and tried to squeeze my best. Problem is, my current scale is electronic, and I cant squeeze it steady enough to get any reading. Even if I had an older analog or mechanical scale, I bet I couldn't do 150 lbs now. Maybe not even 100. But if any of you want a serious grip, try it. Squeeze your scale now for a baseline number, and then get back to me in a month or so. I'm not, nor have I ever been a "world-class" anything.

October 30, 2008, 07:36 PM
Robb I was complimenting you not trying to detract from you. A lot of times people go through barriers because they didn't know they were there. Kind of like the under 4 minute mile or something. I was saying I didn't believe you sorry if you felt that way.

An easy way to test hand strength is to take to 25lb weight plates and put them flat side out together and then try to pick them up by pinching them together with one hand. If you can do that then you have an above average grip.

I have some 4' long chains that weigh 20lbs each might be interested. Sorry this is just an area of interest to this amateur strongman competitor. Grip strength is a big thing for us.

I'm almost at the 35's...

October 31, 2008, 04:59 PM
12oz curls

Pat McCoy
October 31, 2008, 05:06 PM
I realize you asked about specific muscles, but if you are going to be in any competition remember that shooting is an endurance sport, not a power sport. You will be spending up to two hours or more, and that takes good cardiovascular conditioning as well as specific muscle group training.

October 31, 2008, 06:11 PM
+1 to They're all about grip strength. My favorite tools: the IMTUG grippers (more than the Captains of Crush) and Titan's Telegraph Key, but I have a bunch of their products - the stuff seems expensive, but it's very well designed and manufactured and you can't get this stuff anywhere else - superfast shipping, too.

Grip strength is just like any other kind of strength - you have to work at it regularly and constantly, and it goes away fast if you neglect it.

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