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Shot Tossing for Dynamic Grip Strength
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20-lb Shot Put

Much of what I have written about on Straight to the Bar about Grip training has had to do with static grip strength, especially my article series on training to lift the Inch Replica Dumbbell, and some of my pinching articles. While static grip strength training is effective, it is sometimes fun to employ some dynamic grip strength training as well.

One way that we recently trained for dynamic grip strength is by tossing a 20-lb shot. We have a few different shots. Some are smaller and lighter; we use them in pairs, rotating them for hand health purposes. However, on this day we tossed the shot around in various manners to work the forearms, hands, fingers and thumbs dynamically.
The 20-lb shot is the perfect size because it is not too large for an individual with small hands and not too small for an individual with large hands. It is a comfortable size for just about anybody.
There are several ways you can toss the shot in order to train the hands and forearms from a variety of angles. Here are a few to try.

Fingertip Tossing for Height


Fingertip Toss

With this technique, the shot is tossed straight up in the air and caught in the same hand. What I tried to concentrate on was generating as much power as possible with my finger tips. You could almost hear the shot flick off the ends of my fingers. There are not many grip strength exercises that work the ends of the fingers dynamically like this.

Fingertip Tossing for Spin

Brad was also able to produce quite a bit of power through his fingertips when he was flipping the shot as well. The difference was that he concentrated on making the shot spin very fast with each toss.


Switching Hands

Brad also began tossing the shot from one hand to another with this tight spin technique he was using. Changing hands in this manner also had another interesting benefit, stimulating the core, shoulders, and arms. I think this type of shot toss would be excellent for an upper body and core warm-up drill.

Palm Tossing for Forearm and Bicep Emphasis


Palm Tossing

Smitty also came up with several variations. First, he showed the palm toss. By keeping the shot centered in his hand, he shifted the emphasis of the movement back toward the forearm and bicep. In the image, you can see that Smitty was releasing the shot slightly above shoulder height. Shoulder flexion is important to this movement and again shows the multiple benefits of shot tossing.

High Pulls for Pinch Work


High Pulling the Shot

Smitty also was able to switch up the emphasis again by high pulling the shot with his hand on top. Up until this point, everyone had propelled the shot upwards with the hand beneath. High pulling the shot with your hand on top works the pinch, strengthening the thumb. It also strengthens the musculature in the back of the forearm which is important for balance in the antagonistic muscular groups.

Top Half Catches


Catching the Shot by the Top

Another great aspect of shot tossing is trying to catch the shot by the top. This is very challenging because the shot is traveling away from your hand. You have to chase the shot with your hand and then squeeze to prevent it from dropping to the ground! This can be made even tougher if the shot you are using is slick. Our shot is still fairly new so there is not very much surface texture to help you catch it.

As you can see, dynamic grip training can be accomplished with equipment you may already have in your collection. With shot tossing, there is barely any set-up time, and it is fun to do. I encourage you to give it a try. If you come up with any other variations that you enjoy, contact Scott Bird or myself and we will post them here!
Jedd Johnson

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