I think I’ve discovered a new word for Webster’s Dictionary: GripWalking. My word processor doesn’t like it. Well for a number of years carrying small (or large) weights for distance has been used by strength enthusiasts. The “Farmers Walk” is a familiar strongman (300+ lbs) exercise, although I have heard of carrying a “Fat Man” Blob (end of a 100 lb Roundhead 50+ lbs) about 91 feet. As hunter-gatherers 50,000 yrs ago we certainly carried spears and rocks as weapons, so we’re made to do this.
That’s a bit much for my term GripWalking. I’m talking about < 15 lbs in one hand at a time, switching hands, and walking a couple of miles. Small dumbbells <5 lbs have been used to walk with, although they are held in the usual fashion not requiring a persistent grip effort.
The most common form is to carry 1 or 2 lbs in each hand, not much for gripping. If you bump up the weight (5 to 10 lbs), use a round object that requires grip effort, now you’re talking about GripWalking. I’ve started this after training with many grip tools: hand crushers up to 250#, Blobs, plates sideways, and balls 3″ to 5″. Various GripWalking objects are seen in this photo:
The steel ball bearings are what I use but are somewhat pricey. They are also used for massage of sore muscles. I started with a 3.5″ ball bearing @ 6.4 lbs and have worked up to a 4″ @ 9.5 lbs. I have a 5″ @ 18.5 lbs, but can’t hold it long enough, establishing my limits for GripWalking. Here’s what I do normally:
- Carry 4″ ball bearing in one hand, switching as needed.
- Carry a knapsack with water, towel, cell phone, etc.
- If you get tired put the weight in the knapsack for a while.
- I do this about 3 x per week although it varies.
- Careful at first, it does more than you think for walking and grip.
Other round objects that are cheap to make (see photo):
- Small Blobs (Ends of 15 or 20 lb used dumbbells)
- 2.5 lb plates 5″ grip, on a short 3/4″ iron pipe or bar.
- 3″ to 4″ Wooden balls with a hook (or bolt) for plates.
- Old neoprene coated 10lb kettlebell, carried upside down. (can be loaded with plates).
Second hand sports stores like Play-It-Again, are goldmines for cheap used dumbbells, kettlebells, plates, etc. Balls both wooden and steel must be sought on the Web, although 3″ croquet balls are easy to get. Junkyards may yield other odd objects.
You should see your grip improve when you try the grippers or heavier blobs. Adding weight also burns more calories as carrying light dumbbells, so you’ve benefitted twice from the same exercise!!