Developing a Strong Grip in Wrestling and MMA

The strength of a fighter’s grip is probably one of the most often overlooked areas in MMA and wrestling.

Most coaches have their wrestlers do fingertip push-ups in addition to their normal wrestling, and that’s about it for grip-strength work.

The strength of a wrestler’s grip is very important, and use the following program to develop it to the fullest.

First, we explain to our wrestlers the importance of grip strength.

We emphasize that good grip strength will greatly add to their ability to control or take down an opponent, and we remind them that the Russians have long been noted for their rope climbing and grip work.

fingertip push ups


1. Running: We do almost all of our running with the wrestlers carrying and squeezing rubber balls. Also, we have our wrestlers carry weight plates (on their fingertips, of course) as they run.

2. Rope climbing: We climb ropes every day after practice. It’s useful to have the wrestlers race or to time them. You can also use ropes for the conventional tug-of-war.

3. Wrist curls: From the seated position, drop your wrists over your knees and curl weights the full range of wrist movement. Twenty-five repetitions.

4. Fingertip push-ups: Regular push-ups, but up on fingertips.

5. Finger snaps: Wrestlers stand with arms extended. They open and close their hands in quick succession. This is an excellent exercise.

NOTE: And it gives the coach a chance to do an exercise with his team and not get out of breath!

6. Wrist rolls: With the conventional weight-training wrist roller, you can use any number of exercises. We’ve found that standing with the arms extended is the best position.

7. Fingers tug-of-war (Figure 1): Both wrestlers drop down to the position they would use for bent-knee sit-ups. They place the balls of their feet together and lock fingers. Each attempts to pull the other off the mat. Both men lose if contact is broken.

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