Grip strength could be a game changer in reaching your goals.

By By Jaclyn Emerick
Mireya Acierto/Getty Images

The strength of your body starts with your hands, so grip strength is not just important, it's "tremendously important," says Julien Pineau, a strength expert at Strongfit, an online resistance-training resource. "It affects most muscle groups you use and most exercises you do."

Ultimately, if you strengthen your grip, you strengthen your entire body (and reap the benefits of lifting heavier weights). There are three basic grips: overhand, neutral (palms face each other), and underhand. You probably use the overhand grip (in fitness and life) way more than the others, says Pineau, "and that means you're strengthening your forearms in only one direction." Over time, that imbalance can set off a chain reaction, he explains, restricting your shoulders' range of motion-which in turn prevents your lats from kicking in during exercise. "That adds up to you being weaker during pressing and pulling exercises that you'll do in everything from lifting weights to yoga," says Pineau.

We have good news, though. It's easy to boost and balance your grip strength: Just switch up your grip on exercises. For example, if you're rowing, do the first set overhand and the second neutral (these moves will also make a difference). "Also, once a week, do pinch-grip training by grabbing a weight plate or the end of a dumbbell between your thumb and fingers and walking around the gym with it as long as you can," he says. These small tweaks will make a huge difference in your overall power, he promises.

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