Sunday, 25 May 2014

Basic finger extensor training

This is a follow on to my post on basic grip strength training

Training the extensors is a vital component of strong, injury proof hands. By training the extensors you balance out your grip strength, which helps to keep the hand and wrist stable, helping to prevent injury. Training the extensors can also help to maximise your grip strength training, by increasing the size and strength on surrounding and related muscles in the forearm. This is a basic guide to at home minimalist extensor training to accompany basic grip training.

Finger tip press ups

This is the staple of most extensor training. Holding the hand in an isometric position uses both sides of the hand, allowing us to get in some extensor training. Finger tip push ups also allow us to put pressure though our fingers in a progressive manner to slowly build the bone and connective tissue of the fingers. I have currently built up to 3 sets of 3 one arm fingertip push ups, but this was by no means easy. At one stage I was doing sets of 10 regular fingertip push ups, but after breaking my wrist (parkour injury) and not training fingertips for a long time I was very weak in the fingers. I had to start my training from very simple kneeling press ups. This took several months until the movement just clicked (figuratively, not literally) and I started to make progress. Aim for 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps before moving on

From there I extended my kneeling press up by locking my body straight from thigh to back (squeeze the butt). This made the movement more difficult, with more weight going through the fingers. Again aim for 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps before moving on.

Keep your butt squeezed
Regular fingertip push ups were my next step. Since this is quite a big jump, I suggest doing isometric holds at the top and bottom of the push up, and then building up to actually doing press ups on the finger tips.

Keep your back flat
 Once I could do 5-10 finger tip press ups per set I used press up progressions (un-even and archer) from the convict conditioning book to work towards the one arm fingertip press up. Again the jump to full one arm finger tip push ups is big so I used isometric holds (5 seconds) at the top and bottom, then negatives before I build up to the full press up. Also when training these for the first time, keep your other arm close by to spot yourself in case your fingers fail, safety first. I now train these once per week, often at night while I’m cooking dinner. I suggest either training them before grip training, or on a separate day, not after grip training as you may risk fault in your fingers.

Other finger tip options

All sorts of body weight movements can be trained on the finger tips such as frog stands, elbow levers, handstand push ups, L-sits etc. Personally I don’t currently train any of these but they are worth doing.

Rubber band extensions

This is the second basic stable of extensor training. I use the bands from iron mind which I bought along with some grippers and other items. I like these bands since there are several different strengths to use and work up to. If you can’t or don’t want to buy any, just look for thick rubber bands, then start to double them up. I use my bands 1-2 times per week, working the weakest bands first building up to the strongest, doing sets of 10-12 of each.

Rice buckets

Rice buckets can be used for all kinds of grip, hand and wrist training. I don’t personally use one but they do look like they would be helpful. Check them out here on

Isometric hold and lift

This is another option I don’t personally use but I’ll mention it here. Take a large jar or similar container, half fill with rocks/sand, put your hand in the neck of the jar, open your hand to a finger tip push up position, this should lock your hand inside the jar. Then do several lifts with your hand locked in this position.

That should be more than enough for you to start training your extensors and injury proofing your hands.

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