Grip Strength For BJJ (Crush Your Opponents)

With a firm grip, you can control your opponent, defend against their attacks, and execute your own techniques. But how do you develop a powerful grip for BJJ?

Grip strength training for BJJ involves working various grips such as support, monkey, and crushing grip exercises to transfer to the mats.

But how important is grip strength to BJJ, and do you need to spend time off the mats to train it?

Does Grip Strength Matter In BJJ?

Have you ever felt the impending doom when a thick forearmed BJJ player grabs your wrist, and none of your grip breaks work?

And as you fight out of these grips, they dig underhooks or advance their position. But this is just one example of what a strong grip can do.

Finishing submissions against strong-willed opponents can often take higher levels of strength. For example, the stubborn BJJ player who does anything to survive the head and arm choke.

Yes, with better mechanics, you're likely to finish it. Still, the stronger grip will sometimes allow you to maintain the position to finish.

Let's not forget about the gi. While you curl your fingers to hold the sleeves and collars to reduce the involvement on the hands and reliance on grip, finishing various collar chokes takes a strong grip.

So, it makes sense to target grip training to improve BJJ performance. Especially since purple to black belts with 4 or more years of experience have significantly greater grip strength than white to blue belts with less than 4 years of experience [1].

However, this is likely due to the time accumulated gripping opponents and gis in training. Not so much by extracurricular grip training. But that doesn't make extra grip training any less important. It means you can give yourself an advantage as a lower belt.

But there's an important point to consider before obliterating your grip in the gym.

That is how much BJJ you're training and how intense those sessions are. If you're training 5 gi sessions a week with intense rolls, then extra grip training may cause you more harm than good.

But if only 1 or 2 of those involve hard rolls and you're doing no gi, then extra grip work won't cause problems. Further, if you're doing heavy deadlifts, rows, or pull-ups, these count as grip training. You can have your normal strength session target your grip with simple modifications.

Different Types Of Grip For BJJ

Grip Strength For BJJ

Not all grips are the same. Training one aspect of grip may not translate to other types of grips. For example, pinch grip strength isn’t likely to translate to crushing strength. Here’s a list with examples of them all.


The crimp grip is your distal finger strength. Within BJJ, it’s the grip you use when holding the gi sleeve when playing various guards. It’s not a grip you’ll train outside of BJJ.

  • BJJ gi sleeve holding in guard


The clamp grip is your finger, hand, and forearm strength. It’s similar to a monkey grip where the thumb isn’t involved.

  • Plate clamp lift
  • False grip reverse curl
  • No thumb kimura grips


The pinch grip is the strength of your fingers and thumb pressing together. You’ll find your thumb muscle becomes crampy after training it!

  • One and two-hand plate pinch
  • Hex DB hold


Crushing strength is your ability to create a fist crushing whatever is in your hand. It is a dynamic action and requires an active squeeze. For example, closing a gripper.

  • Grippers
  • Rope and towel pull-ups
  • Towel curls
  • Towel rows


The support grip is similar to a crushing grip, but it's not about how hard you can squeeze. I'd class it more of an endurance-based grip.

  • Dead hangs
  • Pull-ups
  • 1-Arm deadlift
  • Suitcase deadlifts
  • Farmers walk
  • Wrist control


Monkey grips involve far more of your hands and forearms. I break down monkey grips even further to open and closed hand grips. For example, bearhugging a sandbag without connecting your hands is open, while hanging from a pull-up bar with your thumb over the bar is a closed monkey grip.

  • Sandbag deadlift to bearhug
  • Monkey grip pull-ups

Best BJJ Grip Exercises

Towel Pull-Ups

The best thing about towel exercises is the little equipment needed to blast your hands and forearms. You can add them to a range of exercises to increase grip demands. The towel pull-up is one of the greatest tests of grip strength. Here’s how to do it:

  • Throw two hand towels over a pull-up bar, one for each hand. Grab both ends of the towel with each hand.
  • Pull yourself up by pulling your elbows to your ribs. Get your chin over the bar.
  • Slowly lower yourself until your arms are straight.

Towel Barbell Curls

The towel barbell curl is an excellent option if you can't do towel pull-ups or want to spice up your arm training. In my experience, the fat bar curl is more challenging than the towel version, but they are different hand and grip positions, so it's worth doing both. Here's how:

  • Place two hand towels around the bar, one for each hand. Grab both ends of the towel with each hand with a hammer grip. The end of the towel should come through your thumb and finger.
  • Deadlift the barbell and stand with the bar in front of your thighs. Curl the barbell and turn your palms toward the ceiling as you get to the top of the curl.
  • Slowly reverse the action to minimize swinging.

Fat Bar Curls

It may seem weird having arm isolation exercises in a grip strength article. Still, the forearm recruitment when doing curls is massive. Add the fat bar, and you've turned it into a brutal grip exercise. Here's how to do it:

  • Using a fat bar or Fat Gripz, deadlift the bar with an underhand grip. Hold the bar in front of your thighs.
  • Curl the barbell to upper chest height and slowly lower the barbell to the starting position.

Fat Bar Deadlift

Using a fat bar or fat gripz shows significant increases in forearm activation when deadlifting versus using an Olympic bar [2]. It seems logical since the diameter you must grip increases dramatically. Here’s how to do it:

  • Position yourself in your normal deadlift stance. Grip the barbell with a double overhead grip to increase the grip demands.
  • Push with your legs through the floor, keeping the bar close to the shins. Once the barbell passes the knee, thrust your hips forward.

Sandbag Deadlifts

This is the ultimate monkey grip exercise. You must wedge your hands under either side when lifting a heavy sandbag from the floor. It's impossible to connect them when the sandbag is heavy enough. So, to pick the bag up, it’s all hand, forearm, and biceps strength. Here’s how to do it:

  • Lay the sandbag flat on the floor. Wedge your hands under each side by rocking it left and right.
  • Maintain your arm position as you lift the sandbag to your lap against your stomach and chest.

Sandbag Bearhug Carries

The sandbag bearhug carry is my favorite carry exercise for BJJ because of the grip versatility. You can keep the monkey grip as you deadlift or transition to S grips, Gable grips, or seatbelt grips. Here's how to do it:

  • Start by deadlifting the sandbag and squeezing it close to your chest and stomach. Pick your grip, whether an S, Gable, or seatbelt grip. Walk.

Plate Pinch

If there's a grip exercise I hate doing the most, it's the plate pinch. My thumb muscle almost cramps when doing these hard. It's important to use plates with a flat side like the original metal 45 lb plates. You can do these with one or two hands for time. Here's how:

  • Place two plates together with the smooth side facing out. From the top of the plates, pinch your fingers and thumb together with the plates wedged in between. Hold for time.

Plate Clamp Lift

This is not an exercise I use as I feel you develop this strength through lots of BJJ and no thumb gripping the pull-up bar. However, to strengthen your fingers, use this and the plate pinch for a potent combination. Here's how to do it:

  • Hold the edge of a small plate between your fingers and palm. Squeeze the plate and lift it off the floor, pausing before slowly returning to the floor.

Best BJJ Grip Strength Workout

Day 1




A1) Double Overhead Deadlift

3 x 3

75-80% 1RM

B1) Fat Bar Deadlift

1 x 1

Small jumps to a heavy single)

C1) Towel Pull-Up

3 x Max reps


D1) Plate Pinch

2 x 20 sec


Day 2




A1) Sandbag Bearhug Carry

3 x 20-40 m (vary grips)


B1) Towel Barbell Curls

3 x 8-10


C1) Plate Clamp Lift

2 x 10


D1) Plate Pinch

2 x 20 sec


Best Grip Strengthener For Jiu Jitsu

Fat Gripz

I bought my Fat Gripz over a decade ago and still use them in most of my gym sessions. They easily store in your gym bag and can be added to the barbell, dumbbells, or cable attachments to target the grip and forearms.

They have three sizes, but the original blue model is perfect for most BJJ practitioners. The Fat Gripz Ones are suitable for females with smaller hands.

Expand Your Hands

You can't hammer your grip for long periods and expect no niggles or injuries. Your hands and forearms take a beating if you're training your grip, doing BJJ, and general tasks at home—especially your finger and wrist flexors.

The IronMind Expand Your Hands Rubber Bands work the finger extensors, which get little to no love in the gym and on the mats. Do these for high reps, and you'll take care of your elbow and wrist pain.


Training your grip is a must for BJJ performance. But be careful with doing too much on top of the intense grip demands of BJJ. Less is more in this instance. Sometimes, it’s not about doing more grip work but reducing your injury risk by doing grip exercises like finger extensions to keep yourself healthy.


1. Fernandes Monteiro, L., Abian Vicen, J., Díaz Lara, F. J., & García García, J. M. (2014). Body composition, isometric hand grip, and explosive strength leg-similitarities and differences between novices and experts in an international competition of Brazilian jiu jiutsu.

2. Krings, B. M., Shepherd, B. D., Swain, J. C., Turner, A. J., Chander, H., Waldman, H. S., ... & Smith, J. W. (2019). Impact of Fat Grip Attachments on Muscular Strength and Neuromuscular Activation During Resistance Exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.