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Are you wondering if you should get hand exercisers? Maybe you're away from your guitar for long periods and want to put that time to good use. Or, perhaps you have a friend that swears they work. This quick guide will put your mind at ease so you can make an informed decision and decide for yourself if guitar hand exercisers work… or not.
How Does A Guitar Hand Exerciser Work?
There are a ton of great hand exercisers out there on the market, and most work on the same general principle.
Finger exercisers are hand-held finger strengtheners with four pistons. These can be individually moved or locked into position to match your specific demands depending upon what set of fingers you want to exercise.
They have tension resistance that you can adjust for your specific strengthening needs. Most of them don't take up a lot of space or burn a hole in your pocket, making them a great way to increase grip strength or recover from an injury while on the move.
Why Is Hand Strength Important For Guitarists?
So why do you need guitar hand exercisers in the first place? Is hand strength the be-all and end-all in guitar playing?
While focusing on hand strength alone may not be as important as actually practicing your guitar, some claim they do provide benefits.
Improving your hand strength will make your fretting fingers more receptive and give you more control over all your fingers. With increased hand strength, you’ll notice that you can shred faster and see an overall improvement in your speed and agility.
With that being said, speed and strength aren't synonymous with guitar playing, and it can be dangerous to rely solely on hand strength to improve your playing.
Your hand strength should never come at the cost of flexibility and dexterity. Focusing on strength alone may cause your hands to become cramped and the muscles imbalanced, and if this continues for a long time, it can mess up your playing.
Another extremely important thing that is often overlooked is your overall posture. Finger strength may be important for sure, but if you are slouching or your posture is poor, your guitar playing can suffer.
Hunched up and rounded shoulders or tense elbows cause bad alignment and puts you at risk for injury that you can easily prevent.
It is important to remember that everything in the body is connected. Like any other instrument, guitar playing is as much science as an art form, and looking at the big picture pays off.
This video by Justin Guitar is a great exercise for you to build your hand strength without relying on a gadget. This technique does require you to actually exercise it on your guitar so maybe a few minutes of this every day would naturally increase your hand strength.
Who Should Use A Guitar Hand Exerciser?
The one thing that every guitar player desperately needs?
A great pair of strong and flexible hands.
Playing the guitar relies heavily on your fingers. Taking care of your hands and keeping them in great shape reduces stiffness that accompanies continuous playing and minimizing sore joints and injury.
If you have a desk job, drive for long hours, or simply don't have enough time during the day to practice as much as you like, then hand exercisers might be a great option for you. They are also particularly good when you are recovering from injuries to your arms or shoulders.
- One obvious benefit is that they let you build up your finger and hand strength while away from your instrument.
- Though holding down a guitar string does not require enormous brute strength, it might be a good idea to practice on some hand exercisers if you are new to the instrument or lack strength in your arms and fingers.
- Most exercisers have adjustable pistons allowing you to raise the pressure required to compress the pistons and build strength according to your expertise level.
- The independently adjustable pistons make it easy to individually build up all your fingers or just the ones you feel are weaker than the others (for most people, it is their pinky finger).
- Hand strengtheners may help with speed too. The pistons can be depressed in various sequences and practiced with speed.
Why You May Not Want To Use A Guitar Hand Exerciser
If you already have decent enough hand strength to begin with, and proximity with your guitar is not a problem for you, then you may be better off building your dexterity and strength by actually playing the guitar. There is just no substitute for the real thing and practicing your hand strength on a gadget does make the process feel a little mechanical.
You can check out this video on dispelling myths about finger independence exercises that are normally taught at the beginner level. It might save you a lot of headaches later on by approaching it the right way.
- On the one hand, hand exercisers make building hand strength quicker and more effective, but they can also negatively affect your playing when used the wrong way.
- For example, finger exercisers can be great for strengthening your finger and wrist muscles, but they may also make them more rigid.
- Some say they can reduce current capabilities while potentially causing discomfort and stiffness in the future. The ultimate result is that your hands may grow cramped and unbalanced over time, which can severely limit your ability to play.
- Though rare, they may cause maladies like tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and others.
Your muscles become locked into a certain condition due to performing the same actions repeatedly, which might make them less flexible.
That isn't to suggest that hand exercise isn't beneficial; it is, after all, a balancing act. Do it the right amount, and you'll benefit.
The Best Guitar Hand Exercisers On The Market
Here we talk about the most popular gadgets out there so you can decide which one ticks all the boxes for you.
1. The D’Addario Varigrip Adjustable Hand Exerciser
This is one of the most popular and highly rated hand exercisers. Anyone can use it – from a relatively new player to experienced masters. It has great reviews online, is reasonably priced, and boasts some kick-ass features:
- It helps you maintain dexterity in your fingers, hands, and forearms.
- The tension for each finger is adjustable.
- It has a fully reversible hand-molded grip.
- It is compact and handy with a dimension of 1.1 x 5.2 x 8.1 inches and a weight of 0.2 ounces.
2. The 321 STRONG Finger Strengthener and Hand Exerciser for Guitar
This is another highly rated hand exerciser for guitar players. It offers some truly great features:
- It measures 2.6 x 3.5 x 0.8 inches, and has four finger pistons that can be adjusted from 3.5 to 6 lbs, a soft rubber coated bottom base, and a powerful steel spring.
- It is made of durable, heavy-duty black plastic and light enough for you to carry around in your purse or pocket.
- An additional perk that every guitar enthusiast is sure to enjoy? 4K Ultra HD eBook with great finger exercises that comes along with the purchase!
- It provides the perfect tension for stretching out the muscles and for finger strengthening by giving the users a complete resistance of 4 pounds on each finger.
3. The ProHands Gripmaster Pro Edition
This is also a great option for guitarists who wish to improve their grip and performance. It is popular not only among guitarists but rock climbers, shooters, and sports enthusiasts too. Its got the following features:
- It has four spring-loaded finger pistons and durable construction with a rubber base.
- It has a complete exercise program and each finger can be exercised individually. It also helps the player to work on their weak areas.
- It is available in five models with varying resistance – xx-light (1.5 pounds per finger), x-light (3 pounds), light (5 pounds), medium (7 pounds), and heavy tension (9 pounds).
- It is pocket-sized and portable.
GripMaster users have a favorable review of the product, making it is a great choice for improving grip strength in general. It works not only for guitar players but also for other musical instruments. This is a great choice for people recovering from surgeries.
4. The Dynatomy VariGrip Hand & Exerciser
The Dynatomy VariGrip is well-balanced and practical. Most users had a good opinion of this product though some have complained about the lack of light tension. Here are some of its features:
- It boasts an ergonomic design, a textured base that is unusually wide, a reversible molded grip, and weighs 0.4 ounces.
- The product's dimensions are 5 x 7 x 0.5 inches, and the tension can be adjusted from medium to heavy.
- Overall, this is a fantastic option for anyone looking to develop or maintain calluses.
5. The Fender Grip Hand Exercise
This superb hand exerciser is definitely among the best. Fender is certainly a well-known brand in the guitar world, and it is clear that users of this hand exerciser adore it.
It has a broad range of features and benefits designed to assist guitarists of all levels in strengthening their fingers, stretching their grip, and improving their performances. The Fender Grip Hand Exerciser comes with the following features:
- A one-of-a-kind design that helps to strengthen specific fingers as well as the entire hand.
- Ergonomic design for superior comfort
- It includes a one-year warranty
All of the products listed above are top-rated and reliable ones. You can't go wrong with The D’Addario Varigrip Adjustable Hand Exerciser which seems to be the most popular option, but you can check out the others too as all of them have satisfied customers.
Alternative Exercises For Guitarists
If you don't want to bet on these gadgets, there are lots of other ways for you to improve hand strength and improve your playing ability.
Here's something that you probably never thought would help you with your guitar:
Practicing chin-ups. Yes, practicing chin-ups can fix your posture and increase endurance, thus decreasing your chances for an injury. It also strengthens your hands, fingers, and wrists because they support your entire body.
You could also try out some stretches,
Like every other form of exercise, stretching allows you to loosen up your muscles before putting them under stress.
It makes a huge difference in terms of flexibility and overall muscular health.
Stretching before practice can assist you in hitting the right notes in a song that's proving difficult. Your flexibility and reach should improve over time, and you should gain some strength as well.
Some ways to stretch your muscles:
- Gently pull each finger back as far as you can without causing discomfort, and hold for ten seconds.
- Keeping both hands together, hold them at approximately chest level. Then, with your hands still together, start moving your elbows up and down for a nice wrist workout.
- Stretch all the fingers on one side of your hand. Then relax and repeat on the opposite side.
- A great and simple exercise is to open and close your hand as far as possible. Try starting slow and gradually build up speed.
Check out these essential hand stretches that are an absolute must for every guitar player to prevent muscle cramps and improve your playing speed.
Another thing you can try is a stress ball. A stress ball is a great and cheap way to exercise the muscles in your hands. It can help you get a better grip on chords (specifically those barre chords). It's a great finger strengthener you can carry around with you everywhere.
If finger independence is a problem for you then check out this video which tackles your finger independence and strength all at once.
Conclusion: The Effectiveness of a Hand Exerciser from My Personal Experience
As with everything in life, using guitar hand exercisers to improve your hand strength is all about balance. Ideally, it would be best if you built your strength and flexibility from playing the guitar directly. However, they are a great option when you are away from your guitar, recovering from an injury to your upper body, or just practicing your finger independence on the go!
Just make sure not to overstrain your muscles and not to rely too much on gadgets alone. Playing guitar is ultimately about fun, so remember to have fun when you're jamming!