Grip strength is incredibly important for BJJ, especially when training with the gi. A traditional gripper may help with finger grip strength but it won’t help with wrist strength or thumb strength which can both make a difference when trying to hold on to a wriggling opponent. These exercises will help you develop finger, thumb, and wrist strength that is functional for BJJ.
Take 2 small weight plates and place them together with the smooth side facing out on each plate. Now put your thumb on the inside plate and your fingers on the outside plate. Pinch the plates together and lift the weight up, letting it hang from your side for 30 seconds. When you can do 6 reps, increase the weight slightly. If you ever get to 45lb plates make sure you are careful when shaking the hands of mere mortals.
Sit down on a chair or bench and rest your forearm on your leg with your wrist just past your knee. Now take a single weight plate and hold it with your thumb on top and your finger on the bottom. Curl the weight up and rotate your thumb towards the outside of your body. Repeat for 6 sets of 8 curls.
Tennis Ball Hangs
Place a tennis ball in each hand and reach up and hang from a chin up bar. When you can hang for 6 reps of 30 seconds each, add in chin ups with the tennis balls in your hands.
Duffle Bag Grabs
Get a heavy duty duffle bag and load it with sand or cement mix. Squat down with your feet shoulder width apart and the duffle bag between your legs. Reach down, grip the bag and lift your hand straight up so your knuckles touch your chin. When you can do 6 sets of 8 with each hand add some more sand or cement to the duffle bag.
Gi Pull Ups
Take a gi jacket and run a piece of wood or steel cable from the opening of one sleeve through the jacket and out the opening of the other sleeve. Make sure that the wood or cable is strong enough to support your body weight. Hang the wood or cable from the ceiling again making sure to engineer a strong enough connection that your body weight will be supported. With your gi hanging from the ceiling you can grip both lapels and do pull ups. You can also try hanging from one hand, and moving your grip from the lapel to the sleeve while hanging.
Take a sledge hammer and hold it at the end of the handle. Extend your arm straight out so that the hammer handle is parallel with the ground. Now keep your arm straight and slowly lift the hammer head higher off the ground using your wrist. Do 8 reps and then switch grips so that your arm is at a 90 degree angle with your forearm parallels to the ground and the hammer hanging straight down. Using your wrist move the hammer head towards the back of your body for 8 reps. Repeat both exercises for a total of 6 sets.