Get A Grip, Save Your Shoulders

AT 52 & 55

An unspoken indicator of athleticism and strength is having a firm handshake. There is a reason for this, as a firm grip is necessary to succeed in many sports and disciplines. This is why it’s so important to train it, whether it be directly or indirectly.

Grip Training Benefits

In recent years, specialty bars and thick-grip implements have seen a resurgence in popularity. The pendulum is now swinging into uneven grip implements. The reason for this is that research [9, 10, 11] has shown that there are different types of grips and each have their own potential for strength training. It is said that the hand is the most intelligent tool found in nature, so this adage is now confirmed by sports and medical science research.

A lesser known benefit of training your grip is that it can help prevent your elbows and shoulders against injury. Recent research has found that forearm and external rotator muscle activity is linked to grip strength as well [1,2,4,6,7].

It has been shown that the stronger your grip is, the more the teres minor and infraspinatus, the two muscles of your rotator cuff in charge of your external rotation, are activated. So, a firm grip means a stable shoulder. Indeed, external rotation strength is often an imbalance that needs to be worked on. By using thick grip implements and accessories, it is now possible to indirectly strengthen your rotator cuff while also working other muscle groups.

This principle can further be used in rehab as well as preventative rehab. The former is such a potent tool in the rehab arsenal that it is even considered when treating loss of shoulder strength and stability in women who had a mastectomy following breast cancer [3].

This same principle of increased activity when a strong grip is present has also been shown to be true to prevent and even improve epicondylitis, aka tennis elbow [5,8].

Strength Equipment Available

The field of strength training is rapidly adjusting to this new reality and a plethora of tools are now offered. They have been focused a lot more on pressing movements with bars featuring different grip angles, sizes and types. Pulling movements however, have been given very little attention.

With that said, the internal rotation torque in the shoulder also needs strong external rotator muscles when pulling to counterbalance it. This is why we designed our AT 51-56 attachments with a variety of angles and an overhand grip that will make sure you apply strength in the fingers, giving you maximum activation.

Give them a try during your next back session and relish that forearm pump, knowing your shoulder will be stronger for it!


1. O.Alizadehkhaiyat et al. Shoulder muscle activation and fatigue during a controlled forceful hand grip task, Journal of Electromyography and KinesiologyVolume 21, Issue 3, June 2011, Pages 478-482

2. Hawkes, D.H et al, Electromyographic assessment of muscle fatigue in massive rotator cuff tear; Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology; Volume 25, Issue 1, February 2015, Pages 93-99

3. Lee, Byoung-Hee; Effects of hand grip strength on shoulder muscle activity in breast cancer patients; Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Science, Volume 5 Issue 2, Pages.95-100; 2016

4. Sporrong, H., Palmerud, P; Herberts, P;  Influences of handgrip on shoulder muscle activity; Eur J Appl Physiol (1995) 71:485-492

5. Johanson, ME; James, MA; Skinner, SR; Forearm muscle activation during power grip and release; The Journal of Hand Surgery; Volume 23, Issue 5, September 1998, Pages 938-944

6. Sporrong, H., Palmerud, P; Herberts, P; Hand grip increases shoulder muscle activity: An EMG analysis with static handcontractions in 9 subjects; Acta Orthopaedica Scandinavica, Volume 67, 1996 – Issue 5

7. Horsley, I et al; Do changes in hand grip strength correlate with shoulder rotator cuff function?; Sage Journal, First Published January 25, 2016 –

8. Arti S Bhargava, Charu Eapen & Senthil P Kumar; Grip strength measurements at two different wrist extension positions in chronic lateral epicondylitis-comparison of involved vs. uninvolved side in athletes and non athletes: a case-control study; BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation volume 2, Article number: 22 (2010)

9. Leslie, Kelly. L. M. BSc (Hons); Comfort, Paul MSc, CSCS*D; The Effect of Grip Width and Hand Orientation on Muscle Activity During Pull-ups and the Lat Pull-down; Strength and Conditioning Journal: February 2013 – Volume 35 – Issue 1 – p 75-78

10. Mukaiyama, K et al; Load distribution and forearm muscle activity during cylinder grip at various grip strength values; Hand Surgery and Rehabilitation, Volume 41, Issue 2, April 2022, Pages 176-182

11. Signorile, JF; Zink, AJ; Szwed, SP; A Comparative Electromyographical Investigation of Muscle Utilization Patterns Using Various Hand Positions During the Lat Pull-down, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2002, 16(4), 539–546