Skip to Content

Jim Wendler Grip Training | The Ultimate Guide!

Jim Wendler Grip Training

Are you curious about Jim Wendler grip training?

Do you wonder how the creator of 5/3/1 incorporates grip work into his popular strength training program?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

In this comprehensive guide, I will show you how to use Jim Wendler grip training to take your deadlift and many other exercises to the next level!


Jim Wendler is one of the most popular strength coaches in the world today.

He is most famous for inventing the popular 5/3/1 training program, which he says is “the simplest and most effective way to build raw strength.”

Of course, Jim Wendler trained for many years as a professional powerlifter, and during this time he learned many advanced grip training strategies.

These grip training strategies helped Jim deadlift over 700 pounds without straps, and today he uses these strategies in all of his 5/3/1 training programs!

Jim Wendler Stats

  • Date Of Birth: February 13th, 1975
  • Height: 5 Feet 10 Inches
  • Weight: 240 Pounds
  • Body Fat: About 15 Percent


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jim Wendler (@jimwendler)

Jim Wendler Grip Training

If you are reading this article, then there is a very good chance you want to increase your grip strength to improve your raw deadlift. After all, it doesn’t matter how strong your legs and back are if your grip keeps letting you down when you lift the barbell off the ground!

Jim says deadlift without straps is an OK start, but if you are serious about improving your grip strength then you need to use targeted grip training exercises.

“The typical answer is to say, “Use straps!” but that won’t solve anything other than building a bigger ego and a shittier deadlift.”

Here are Jim Wendler’s top 9 tips for building a bigger grip, as taken from his blog. Check it out:

Jim Wendler Grip Tips

  • Grip Tip #1: Deadlift for reps!
  • Grip Tip #2: Use a rope / towel for chins
  • Grip Tip #3: Do Kroc rows
  • Grip Tip #4: Use an overhand grip for deadlifts
  • Grip Tip #5: Lose fat
  • Grip Tip #6: Pull the sled
  • Grip Tip #7: Do pull ups on a fat bar
  • Grip Tip #8: Train with a fat bar
  • Grip Tip #9: Do high rep shrugs

Let’s take a closer look at each of these tips.

Grip Tip #1: Deadlift For Reps!

Jim Wendler says the first thing you should do to improve your grip is to perform deadlifts for reps.

When Jim was training with Louie Simmons at the Westside Barbell powerlifting team, he mostly performed deadlifts for singles.

He says this is fine for building overall deadlifting strength, but if you are serious about building your grip strength, then deadlifts for reps is an absolute must.

If you are running Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 training program, then you will have plenty of opportunities to do exactly this.

Grip Tip #2: Use A Rope / Towel For Chins

Jim Wendler says he started performing this exercise in his college football years, and he continues to use them today.

Actually, many other strength coaches including Charles Poliquin are also big fans of rope / towel chins. Fortunately, this exercise is very easy to perform. You just throw a towel over a chin up bar and you’re good to go!

Jim says that you can make the exercise even harder by draping two towels over a bar and twisting their ends together to increase the thickness of the towel.

This exercise is extremely demanding. However, it is possible to work up to very heavy weights if you know what you are doing. For example, Ben Bruno is using some serious weights in this video!

Grip Tip #3: Do Kroc rows

Kroc rows were popularized by the legendary powerlifter Matt (Janae) Kroczaleski.

The basic idea is to perform a high-rep one-arm dumbbell row with an extremely heavy weight. You also use plenty of cheating or “body English” to perform the exercise.

Matt used to perform 1 all-out set of 20-40 reps, so that is a great target to shoot for.

Of course, if your primary goal is to improve your grip strength, then you want to perform this exercise without any straps. 

Grip Tip #4: Use An Overhand Grip For Deadlifts

This is another one of Jim’s favorite grip training strategies. He says using an overhand grip may limit the amount of weight that you can lift, so you don’t want to perform overhand grip deadlifts for your main 5/3/1 sets.

However, Jim says that you can use this as one of your accessory exercises if your grip strength is really lacking.

Of course, you cannot use the overhand “hook grip” for this exercise, as that grip really doesn’t work your overall grip strength that hard.

Grip Tip #5: Lose Fat

No, this is not a joke! Jim Wendler says that when you are overweight, you store extra body fat in your hands, and this impairs your overall grip strength.

If you are serious about losing body fat, then here are some helpful articles on how to lose body fat, Jim Wendler style:

Grip Tip #6: Pull The Sled

Louie Simmons and the Westside Barbell powerlifting team popularized pulling the sled for building lower body strength and conditioning.

Normally Louie Simmons recommends walking forwards or backwards with the sled. However, another option for building your grip strength is to pull hand over hand. 

“This is great for building your grip and strengthening your arms and back.”

Grip Tip #7: Do Pull Ups On A Fat Bar

Fat bars are one of the most underrated tools that you can use in the gym. They work extremely well for chin ups, pull ups, curls, pressing exercises, and many other exercises.

As Jim Wendler correctly points out, performing pull ups and chin ups on a thick 3-inch bar is a GREAT way to improve your overall grip strength.

At first your strength on chin ups will be below your previous best with a regular thickness bar. However, after just a few weeks you should be back to your old numbers, and your overall strength will be dramatically improved.

Grip Tip #8: Train With A Fat Bar

Of course, Jim is also a big fan of performing various upper body exercises using a thick 3-inch bar. Here are some of his favorite fat bar exercises:

  • Deadlifts
  • Rows
  • Shrugs
  • Curls

Grip Tip #9: Do high rep shrugs

In one of his TNation articles, Jim Wendler mentions that high-rep shrugs are another one of his favorite grip strengthening methods.

In this video you can see Jim shrugging some extremely heavy weights for reps without any straps. Now THAT is a strong grip!

Conclusion | Jim Wendler Grip Training!

Jim Wendler is one of the most popular powerlifting coaches in the world today, and it’s easy to see why. He knows exactly how to strengthen different lagging muscle groups, including the grip!

To improve his grip strength he uses many different strategies including doing deadlifts for reps, training with a 3-inch thick bar, doing Kroc rows, and performing high-rep shrugs.

All of these exercises are very easy to work into your current 5/3/1 program, so you have no excuse for still having a weak grip!

If you are looking to for a way to improve your grip strength, then you have to give these Jim Wendler grip strength exercises a shot.

They may be just what you need to take your training to the next level!

Leave a comment