Supercharge Your Back and Biceps with This Grip-Strength Ladder

grip strength workout
Back and Biceps Workout: Grip-Strength LadderDjordjeDjurdjevic - Getty Images

It’s tempting to conclude that heading to the gym with the goal of growing bigger, stronger muscles — especially the ones that fill your sleeves — is nothing more than an exercise in vanity. Be that as it may, it’s not to say that the side-effects of gym life don’t border on the miraculous at times.

Take for instance the research that has a shown an inverse relationship between handgrip strength and all-cause mortality, which in layman’s means, the stronger your grip, the less likely you are to die anytime soon.

Great news for anyone who regularly picks up a dumbbell or barbell, as both go a long way in increasing your grip strength. But, if you really want to supercharge your grip (and score a bigger set of biceps and a wider back at the same time) grab your gym towel and give our forearm-burning, bicep-building finisher a try.

A simple two-move combo aimed at completely tapping out the pulling muscles of your upper body, you’re going to be using a ‘ladder’ format: working two movements back-to-back, with the reps of both dropping on each round.

You’ll begin with 10 reps of towel-grip pull-ups, followed immediately by 25 towel-grip curls. After that, jump straight back into pull-ups, this time performing 8 reps, followed by 20 curls, then 6 pull-ups and 15 curls. Keep alternating movements, working down the ladder in 2’s for pull-ups and 5’s for curls, and finishing on a set of 2 and 5, respectively. Rest minimally, but keep your form tight, if those reps start looking sloppy, take a breather.

You’re adding years to your life after all, you’ve got the time.

1. Towel-Grip Pull-Up x 10, 8, 6, 4, 2

Hang a towel over a pull-up up bar, grip it in both hands and hang with straight arms (A). Pull yourself up by flexing the elbows while pinching your shoulder blades together. When your chin passes your fists (B) pause, before lowering to the starting position. Repeat, alternating the side your head moves to with each rep.

2. Towel-Grip Bicep-Curl x 25, 20, 15, 10, 5

Pass a towel through the handle of a kettlebell and grip either end with your arms hanging directly in front of your body. Keeping your elbows tight to your ribs and avoiding any momentum from your body, curl the kettlebell upwards, turning your hands out as you do so until your palms are facing you (A). Squeeze here before slowly lowering your arms. Repeat.

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