Hand grip test: the benefits and how to do it at home (2023)

When was the last time you tried to open a jar of pickles? Was it impossible to remove the lid? Or do you drop a lot of things because you have trouble holding things in your hands? The handshake test is a reliable way to determine if your muscle strength is declining or lacking, and may even indicate an underlying health issue. You can test this muscle strength at home with a simple grip test. Read on to find out how to do it, its benefits, and some handshake strengthening exercises you can do if needed.

Grip Test Benefits - They Might Surprise You

A simple grip test is quick and easy to do at home without a doctor.
"Grip strength is an inexpensive and easy-to-perform test, but it can help in the early detection of health problems and other underlying health conditions," says Steiber. Co-author Nadia Steiber comments on her own study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
he can:

  • help you train when you need to do some hand grip strengthening exercisesto ensure you can perform everyday tasks like removing jar lids, holding pots and carrying groceries.
  • point out possible health problems, e.g. B. heart problemsand give you the opportunity to speak to your doctor if necessary. In 2015, researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered a direct link between a person's grip strength and heart health. It found that for every 11 pounds less grip strength, there was a 17% increased risk of heart disease and a 7% increased risk of heart attack.
  • Have โ€œearly warningโ€ conversations with healthcare professionalsFor the Elderly: It is linked to various chronic diseases, cognitive decline, prolonged hospital stays, and even death, along with age-related muscle wasting (sarcopenia), which is often responsible for falls and injuries.

For whom is the evidence at hand?

Anyone can use the grip test! It's generally recommended for older adults, but is useful for anyone who wants to do a simple health check at home. It's even used by physical therapists tracking the progress of an injury, and some researchers believe it should be used as a standard test in medical practice.

The grip test can also be an indicator of osteoporosis, so it can be a useful check for menopausal women, as the hormonal changes of menopause can lead to a decrease in muscle mass and strength.

Signs that your handshake needs testing and reinforcement

People with reduced grip strength may have trouble performing daily tasks, such as:

  • open jars such as jam or pickle jars
  • bring groceries
  • Shake hands with a firm handshake
  • grab an object
  • Pick up a pot of boiling water or place it on the stove
  • iron clothes
  • holding a knife or fork
  • make buttons
  • Holding or picking up things without dropping them

How to test grip strength at home

Measuring grip strength is often described as a bit like measuring blood pressure. You need a small portable device called a dynamometer (sometimes called a Jamar dyno); You can buy one online or some spas have them.

See how to do it:

(Video) How & Why You Should Measure Your Hand Grip Strength at Home

  • With your arm in the same position as if you were picking up a drinking glass, bend your elbow and press the machine.
  • Push as hard and as far as you can; The needle should move up the dial as you tighten.
  • When the needle stops rising, read the measurement (in kg) on โ€‹โ€‹the dial and record the result to the nearest 1 kg. The outer scale registers the result in kg and the inner scale in lbs.
  • If you raise your arm or lift your feet off the floor during the measurement, ignore and repeat the test.
  • Take three measurements for each hand alternately before using an average of all recorded measurements to get an accurate final result.

Please note that equipment may vary slightly and results may be given in pounds (lbs) or kilograms (kg).

Alternative ways to test grip strength at home

Unofficial methods of measuring grip strength that some use include using a pull-up bar and scale to see how much weight you can lift with your hands alone. Another is the "squeeze" method of the scale. To do this, press the bathroom scale with one hand at a time, press down with your palm and run your fingers over it.
dr However, Ann Nainan, a family doctor and public health expert, says: "Evidence shows that the results of these home tests are not as accurate as those from a dynamometer."

The main things that affect how well you do on a grip test

How well you do depends on a few factors:

  • Genderโ€“ Men tend to have more muscle than women, so they may do better on this test
  • Alterโ€“ The older you are, the less muscle you typically have on your body, which means your muscle strength is likely to be lower
  • height and physiqueโ€“ If you're taller or have more muscle, you'll probably do better
  • how active are youโ€“ If you are somewhat active or play a certain sport, your grip strength is likely to be higher

How to read the results

If your grip test results are abnormal, this alerts you to talk to your doctor. But what counts as a good or bad grip test result?

Your dynamometer should come with instructions, including how to read the results. This should include a table showing the "norms" of grip strength for age and gender.
The chart may contain grip values โ€‹โ€‹similar to those currently used by health professionals.

The grip rating norms for women in pounds are:


The male grip rating norms in pounds are:

(Video) Hand Grip Dynamometer


In kilograms, that

suggests a "normal" grip of 50 to 50 pounds for women, depending on age and left/right grip. This goes up to around 35-42 kg for men, again depending on age and the hand gripping the dyno.

What are the problems with the hand grip test?

  • You need an accurate way to measure it and you need to do it right to get the best results. For example, sitting correctly is important. NHS instructions say the test should be stopped and repeated "if you raise your arm or lift your feet off the floor during the measurement".

  • You will not be able to interpret the results as well as a doctor. For example, you can make sure you're comparing your results to the most comparable group of people (based on age, gender, and height) so you don't misinterpret your grip strength readings and cause unnecessary worry. Test along with other tests and symptoms to determine your general health.

  • It can be difficult to know what to think or do about questionable results, but it's best to talk to your doctor. A recent study examined existing thresholds used to determine "healthy" muscle strength limits. It found that even results "slightly below" a threshold could be a cause for concern, meaning the results may not be as clear cut and require the expertise of clinicians to interpret.

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Always talk to your doctor if you're concerned about the results of a hand grip test, or have him or her do the test for you if you notice any of the signs of weakness above.

Remember if your grip strength is low it could be because you need to try to be more active to improve it. Try the exercises below, starting gently and building up slowly.

Also remember that while low grip strength can be linked to health problems such as heart and lung problems, the risk is still relatively small (as mentioned above): for every 5kg reduction in grip strength, there was an increase of 7% have a heart attack.

grip exercises

If your test result was not very high, there are two things you can try.

Do handshake strengthening exercises.

Known for his incredibly challenging fitness obstacle courses, he recommends trying this grip-strengthening exercise:

(Video) Unstoppable veins & grip ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

  • crumpled newspapersโ€“ Try tearing newspaper into shreds (several layers at a time) or waddling a sheet into a ball with one hand until you feel a burning sensation in your forearm muscles, then switch hands
  • Wring out the towelโ€“ Place a towel in a bucket or water bath until fully submerged. Remove the towel and wring it out by squeezing and wringing until the last drop of water has been squeezed out. Try this once or twice a week if the bathroom is yours.
  • Twisting the wrist of the wine bottleโ€“ Hold a closed bottle by the neck, keep your arm close to your body and bend your elbow 90 degrees and rotate your wrist (and bottle) until it is horizontal. Switch hands and aim for 10 reps of each
  • carrying buckets- Fill a bucket with water (or something that makes it heavy but portable) and walk carrying it with one hand for 15 seconds, then switch hands. Aim for 3-4 sets

And of course, squeezing anything around the house that has some resistance, like a stress ball or tennis ball, also helps improve grip strength.

Do general muscle strengthening exercises.

"If your handshake is an indicator of overall muscle strength and heart health, it's worth taking a look at your level and type of activity and exercise," says Dr. Ana.
Try these daily workouts to improve overall muscle strength and heart health:

  • Lift a carton of milk several times before putting it back in the fridge to build arm muscles
  • do more squats
  • consider strength training โ€“ add ankle or wrist weights to power walking
  • Take the stairs whenever possible. This strengthens the muscles of the legs, hips, buttocks and abdomen.
  • Stay active while on the phone or standing in line doing leg and heel raises. It will help strengthen the muscles of the legs and buttocks.

When to see a doctor for muscle weakness

Muscle strength decreases with age, but always see a doctor if:

  • Your grip test results were low or below the limit for your age
  • You have swelling, redness, or other deformities in your hand.
  • Your grip problems are affecting your ability to go about your day
  • notice that you are getting weak in different parts of your body e.g. B. Pinch your arms or legs together
  • have a family history of muscle problems and have never had a test

Go to the emergency room if you:

  • Symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, fever or stiff neck
  • experience a sudden loss of strength or muscle weakness
  • Your sudden loss of strength is accompanied by facial sagging, pain, or other unusual symptoms.

For more help with unusual or unexplained symptoms, including when to see a doctor, use our

intelligent symptom tracker

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