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10 Very Best Fist-Strengthening Exercises

A black and white photo of fist-strengthening exercise.

Table of Contents

A fist is a shape you make when tightly clinching together your fingers and the palm of your hand. Then during fights, these fists as used as weapons to inflict damage on an opponent. So it’s key that they are in the best possible condition for the task ahead. So with that, what are the best fist-strengthening exercises you can do?

There is a range of methods you can easily do to help strengthen your fists. These include exercises like hitting the punching bag. Doing push-up variations and grip work, using a squeeze ball and rice punching for conditioning.

So you want to know how to make your fist like steel? How be able to punch so hard that your opponent will make a quick visit to their ancestors? Well, my friends, let me tell you that I am here to help you in your quest.

Having been in and around MMA, boxing gyms and dojos for so many years. I think I have seen pretty much all the different tricks of the trade professional and amateur fighters use to build the muscles in their hands.

And it’s not rocket science as many of these can be done with no or minimal equipment. So some can be done at the gym, while others in the comfort of your own home. And that is why I wanted to show you just how easy it is to work on building that hand strength.

The hardest part of all of this is actually doing what you need to do. Because some people have been born with natural power. Others have to put in the time to make it work. And so here are some of the best methods available to help you along your journey. So I hope you find the next few bits of information both insightful and helpful.

Fist-Strengthening Exercises

A combination of exercises that work on the fists directly and supplementary ones helps to build the forearms and arms. All of these are linked together in a collection of bone, muscle and sinew.

So working on the different elements involved will help to build the foundation and surrounding structure of a hard fist. As it’s impossible to have one without the other, you will need a holistic approach to building that strong fist you have always wanted.

Try Using A Punching Bag

It may seem obvious, but punching a heavy bag is great for strengthening your fists and connecting your arms. However, most of the time people will usually use padded gloves to absorb the majority of the impact.

In this scenario, you want to expose your fists to more of the impact to help build them up. So it is recommended that you use either good quality hand wraps or some cotton hand wraps, just to protect the knuckles.

A black and yellow boxing bag hanging in a gym
A punching bag in gym.

And punching bag drills like this are used throughout the combat sports world to aid in fist conditioning. So please follow along as I break down some of these easy-to-follow exercises;

  1. Once you have secured the hand wraps, begin punching the bag with mid-range power
  2. Work your way up to higher power, but not so much that you feel any discomfort
  3. Use a range of combinations including jabs, hooks and even some uppercuts. So that each part of the fist gets a workout
  4. Do this for approximately 10 minutes, taking it slow. Add more time to the clock once you feel more comfortable. But don’t overdo it and hurt your knuckles.

Chin-up/Pull-up Variations

Chin-ups are another great way to build both your grip and strengthen your fists. These are two key ingredients for having strong fists. And there are so many different ways in which you can do chin-ups. But for now, we will keep it simple and just focus on two.

So find yourself a quality chin-up bar that will allow your body to hang freely. I recommend using a bar which you either have to jump up to hold and not the one lower to the ground;

How to Perform Chin-Ups | Bodyweight Exercise Tutorial

How to do chin-Ups

  1. With palm facing toward you, grip the bar at approximately shoulder width
  2. Lower yourself down so that your body is hanging freely
  3. Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar, then lower yourself (you can go all the way down or less depending on your strength levels)
  4. Repeat the exercise until you have an idea of how many you can do. Then decide on the amount, setting out your personalised workout routine.

How to Do Pull-ups

Pull-ups are quite similar, except that this time your hands will be facing away:

  1. Place your hand a little more than shoulder-width apart and lift yourself until your chin is over the bar
  2. Lower yourself back down and repeat as many as you can to get an idea of your fitness. Then set out how many reps and sets you will be able to do.

Push-Up Variations

When it comes to fist-strengthening, push-ups are another great tool for the arsenal. So push-ups can be done pretty much anywhere. All you need is a flat clean piece of ground and off you go. Although when using your fists, it may be best to actually work out on some grass or even sand.

But they are an excellent way in which to build your fist strength. As all the weight will be transferred down through your arms and into your fists. So follow along with these go-to routines done by fighters from around the world. To help get you that perfect knockout you are searching for;

Push-Ups On Fists

  1. Get into the push-up position, keeping your arms straight, elbows to your sides
  2. Lift up one hand and make a fist, then set it back down on the floor, then repeat the same with your other hand
  3. Now lower yourself down until you almost touch the floor with your nose, then back up again to the top
  4. Repeat as many times as possible to work out how many reps you can do
  5. Set out the number of reps and set you will do and begin work.

Push-Ups On Fingers

  1. Again get into the push-up position, this time extend your fingers outwards, so the tips sit on the ground
  2. Keep your elbows in tight and lower yourself to the ground, then back up slowly
  3. Again repeat failure to see how many you can do
  4. Be careful when trying this for the first time as your fingers may not be that strong. A recommendation is that you first try it with your knees on the ground to take some of the weight.

Wall Punching/Resistance Technique

Wait! We are not talking about going into the next room in your home and punching through the walls. This exercise is all about using the wall as a surface to resist your punch for fist-strengthing.

The idea is that repeated use will lead to the different parts of your hand becoming stronger over time. And it’s a really easy setup to get going with, so just find some newspapers and hang them on a wall. So that they are about two inches in thickness;

A fist punching from the right of shot.
A fist punching the air.
  1. Begin to punch the papers while standing at a forearm distance away, using around 30% of your punching power
  2. Swap between hands so that both get a good workout
  3. Don’t use too much power as you can hurt your hand
  4. Start out with just a few minutes and slowly raise the length of time you can continue to punch.

Another great option is to use a quality makiwara board. Which is a custom punching board used by martial artists to condition their hands and increase their punching power.

Simply mount it to a secure wall in your home. And from there you will be able to repeatedly work on your punching and hand conditioning without having to keep replacing any newspapers.

Handgrip Workout

Look, much of the grip strength in your hand comes from your forearm. So you could have the most monumental pair of hands ever seen on God’s green earth. But if you have anaemic forearms, I am sorry to tell you it’s just not going to work.

So building handgrip along with your forearms is key and quality hand grippers are excellent for this. In much the same way as squeezing a tennis ball. Handgrips are a mechanical spring-loaded version that allows you to focus on your hand grip muscles. While at the same time building the supporting strength of your forearm that helps with punching.

And with different variations in terms of resistance. There is a hand gripper to suit your current and future requirements;

  1. Take the hand gripper and place it in your hand
  2. Squeeze all the way or until you can squeeze no more (don’t overdo it initially as you can strain the muscles in your hand)
  3. Release and repeat, try as many times as you can to failure
  4. From there you can work out how many you can do. Before upping the amount as the weeks go by.

Work Your Forearms

If you are lucky enough to be blessed with strong forearms then great. They don’t have to be great hulking lumps of meat to have plenty of strength. And you don’t want overly muscled arms anyway as it restricts your range of movement.

The PERFECT Forearm Workout

But having good strength here helps to back up a strong fist. As you can imagine having a solid punch, but with nothing to speak of behind it. This simply will not have the same desired effect;

Reverse Forearm Curls

  1. Holding a barbell at waist height, with palms facing out grip the barbell with the thumb out in front
  2. Keeping your arms straight down by your sides, turn your palms so that they go from facing straight out to facing up toward your upper body
  3. Lower the barbell down and repeat the movement, feeling the tension in the forearm
  4. When you become fatigued, don’t allow your biceps to take up the slack.
  5. Repeat until failure, then work out a suitable regime for your strength.

Rope Climbs For Grip Strength

Man, I hate rope climbs. They were the one part of circuit training in mixed martial arts that I dreaded. Running around doing 8 to 10 exercises that drain your batteries. Then you have to face lifting your entire body weight up a rope until you touch the roof supports.

But one of the reasons so many detest this exercise is because it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. Showing if you have weak arms and grip strength, then you just won’t be able to cut it.

So it is a great exercise for building your grip, forearms and upper arms. Which in turn will all have a positive knock-on effect on your fist.

  1. Grab the rope with both hands, putting one hand above the other
  2. You can give yourself a bit of help by making a small jump before placing one hand over the other as you climb
  3. To assist you in the climb, place the rope between your feet. So that you can grip it and take some weight off your arms (experienced climbers will often do this without using their feet)
  4. Climb to the very top and touch one hand off the highest point (holding on with the other and feet)
  5. Lower yourself down in a slow controlled manner (going fast will burn your hands)
  6. Do as many climbs as you can until failure, then set a target amount for the next time you climb.

Rubber Ball Squeeze

Being able to make a tightly clenched fist is key to improving its overall strength. And one way to do this is by squeezing balls of different variations and resistances.

We all know the stress balls that you can get which some offices hand out to their employees, I have one myself. The idea is that you allow some of your anxiety and stress to be released by squeezing the ball, often as hard as you can depending on just how stressed you actually are.

Image of a fist in black and white.
Black and white clenched fist.

So another way to work on building the hand muscles and forearms is by using an everyday common tennis ball. And it’s better to start off with an older ball that has been through the wars.

This will offer up less resistance than a brand-new one which is still quite rigid. And are better to use once you have built up some significant hand strength. So here are some pointers on how to proceed with this method;

  1. Hold the ball in your hand and squeeze for as long as you can. This will allow you to work out how long you should hold before doing repetitions
  2. Release your grip and reset for say 10 seconds, then repeat the length of time you have chosen
  3. Repeat the same process on each hand 10 times, working your way up to 15 when you have built some strength
  4. Does this at least three times per week leaving a day or two in between for your hands to get accustomed to the exercise.

Rice Punching

As well as being malleable, rice offers excellent resistance when used in fist-strengthening drills. It along with sand are two good substances, but since you will be doing this at home or in the gym we will use rice.

So here are three different exercises you can do to build the toughness of your fist. As well as the individual fingers which make up the hand itself. So fill up a bucket or container until it’s at least one-third full and let’s do this;

  1. Kneeling or sitting over the bucket, punch directly into the rice
  2. Don’t use excessive force, just a consistently low amount of force
  3. Repeat for several minutes on both hands, over time building up more repetitions.

Knuckle Twisting

Knuckle twisting is another variation of the punching rice exercise. With the idea is that you are using the inbuilt resistance from the consistency of the rice. To help build those muscles and connecting tissues as well as the toughness of the skin that protects the knuckles.

  • Dig your fists into the rice and twist down with significant force
  • The idea is that you move much of the rice out of the way as you go
  • The rice will offer up plenty of resistance which is great for building that conditioning in your fists and knuckles.

In Conclusion

So if you are still with me then great. I appreciate that you took the time to follow through on these tried and tested methods professionals use for the purpose of fist-strengthening.

As these are the main weapons for most fighters, it’s essential that they are working to their full capability. As while you might have a strong punch if your fists are not up to the task and end up letting you down, you lose.

So it’s key to success that you use at least some of these techniques to work on building up your fists so that they can do their job properly. And if you do, there can be little doubting you will reap the rewards inside the ring or cage. Now go get it!