By Soji James, CPT, CSCS
Who It’s Good For: The intermediate to advanced trainee who wants to track their recovery and enhance their training in a cost efficient manner. Notable Attributes/Details: Easy-to-read large LCD screen, user friendly, equipped with a high precision strain gauge sensor. It’s cost efficient, extremely simple to use, and can store data for up to 19 users.
In terms of grip strength testing, I couldn’t find anything wrong with it. When I used it, it worked exactly as advertised.
This is comparable in quality to some much more expensive dynamometers and did exactly what it said it would do. It was simple and relatively consistent. If you are looking to take your recovery more seriously without going overboard, I highly recommend picking one up!
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Growing up in the world of athletics, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard phrases such as “No pain, no gain” or “Go hard or go home.” I know I’m not a part of some exclusive club when it comes to this. I’m sure you’ve heard similar mantras uttered by a fitness coach or well-intentioned gym partner looking to motivate you to break through your comfort zone and crank out those last couple of reps.
We exist in a wellness culture that is powered by the word “Go!”. Scroll through Instagram or dive into any hardcore workout group on Facebook and it can be easy to believe that if you are truly dedicated to getting results from your workout, you can’t take a single day off…ever. While they give you the fluff, I’m here to give you the truth: recovery is one of the most vital aspects of any successful program. It is often overlooked, but your body needs time to repair the tissues that are broken down during your training. You don’t get stronger or leaner during your workouts; your muscles change and adapt during the subsequent (or lack thereof) rebuilding process. Basically, rest isn’t a waste of time and won’t set you back. It’s the game!
Now fatigue (wear and tear) is an inevitable part of the training process, so avoiding it altogether is pretty tough (especially if we are training hard). When you allow fatigue to accumulate for too long, that’s when you can potentially run into problems that can affect your training.
So how do you know if you are recovered before your next session? How do you know how hard you should be pushing yourself day to day?
A simple way to determine whether you should go hard or go home (or train lighter) that day is to test your grip strength. When you accumulate a lot of fatigue, your nervous systems suffer. Have you ever had a lift where the bar just didn’t move as quickly, or maybe a lighter weight that seemed heavier than usual? Yeah, your systems were probably fried. Using a simple handheld tool such as a hand grip dynamometer is an easy way to get a feel for your current nervous system and hormonal fatigue levels. It’s a practical tool to determine your body’s readiness to train.
I recommend the digital hand dynamometer from Camry. I used it for a month when I was dialing in on recovery after reading some content from Joe DeFranco. I kept it pretty basic and definitely saw correlations between dips in grip strength and intense training days. After getting a baseline, it helped me make decisions on whether I would go hard or take things easier. In the long term, this mindset shift has helped my training.
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