Studio Blog

Grip Strength and Aids – Instructor Edition by Shadowcat Sophie

Whenever you take a break from on-apparatus training – be it by choice or by state mandate due a health pandemic – certain aspects of your strength and flexibility may change. And one that can take a quick turn for the weak side is grip!

Above and beyond the ability to simply “hang out” longer on your favorite apparatus, research shows that a stronger grip is associated with lower risk of heart attack or stroke, more muscle mass, increased activity and better health.1, 2

If your passion is long hours at the studio on a pole, lyra or sling, you may not be getting the grip-training your hands and forearms need. While training on-apparatus is an excellent way to work your body from head-to-toe, a thoughtful training of the three types of grip strength can expedite your grip goals:

 Three types of grip strength

  • Crush Grip: Strength between your fingers and palm. Used to wrap hands around apparatus, crumple paper towels or shake hands.
  • Pinch Grip: Strength between fingers and thumb. Used to open fabric, pick small Legos up from the floor or grab a piece of paper.
  • Support Grip: Strength to hold onto something for a long period of time. Used to carry shopping bags in from your car or kettle bells across the gym.

With these movements, it’s important to think about the complete range of motion: If you’re working on the flexion portion of your crush grip, squeezing stress balls in your hands during conference calls at work, balance it with actions that work the extension muscles in the hand.

Stuck on ideas of what will work these different types of grip strength?

Check out this video by Physical Therapists Bob Schrupp and Brad Heineck. A little nerdy, they have simple exercises that can be done with materials you likely have around your house.

If you have a few more weights and a pullup bar, you can incorporate some of the ideas from Redefining Strength’s video into your routine.

 What about grip aids in the air?

Depending on your apparatus, the weather, room temperature, how you’re feeling and potentially the planetary alignment, grip aids can be a necessity or a saboteur on any given day. Before a thorough application, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it possible I could do some of my training without a grip aid first?
  • Am I reaching for a grip aid out of habit?
  • Am I applying more than I need? (i.e. am I turning my hands into sticky paper?)
  • Is this the right aid for today’s apparatus/conditions/class/etc.?

Training – even for a short time – without a grip aid can do wonders for your strength! However, never sacrifice safety: You know your body best, so respect and trust your instincts.

Since not all studios supply grip aids, it’s smart to find what you like and bring your own supply to class. Also, in this time of avid hand washing, this will help keep your “germs” yours and yours alone.

Here at Phoenix Flight Studio, you can purchase Dry Hands and Dew Point at the studio. Just show up 10 – 15 minutes before class to make your purchase. They are also easy to find online, on sites such as <website, linked>.

When working with vertical aerial apparatuses, you usually are looking to “stick” via products containing rosin.

If you opt for spray rosin, use it sparingly! A little goes a long way.  I recommend Cramer Firm Grip, which can be found on Amazon or Discount Dance Supply

For rock rosin, look for a rosin sock such as this one available from Marucci. Many aerialists buy bulk rock rosin and fill an old sock to make their own rosin sock. Store your rosin sock in a plastic container or bag to contain the dust.

For bar apparatuses, you’re often looking to “slide” and reduce friction as part of your grip. Chalk-based products can help. Sporting goods stores, specifically those with rock climbing gear, typically carry an assortment of supplies you can use to create your own “chalk sock” (although don’t under estimate the effectiveness of an actual sock and plastic bag for your chalk if you’re playing it on the cheap!)

Train strong, train smart and happy flying!

1Trosclair, D; Bellar, D; Judge, L, W; Smith, J; Mazerat, N; Brignac, A; “Hand-Grip Strength as a Predictor of Muscular Strength and Endurance.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, March 2011, doi: 10.1097/01.JSC.0000395736.42557.bc

2Yong-Jae Lee et al, “Relationship Between Handgrip Strength and Pulmonary Function in Apparently Healthy Older Women.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, May 21, 2018,

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