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Get a Grip on Your Muscle Strength!

grip strength strength training Mar 05, 2024


By Carla DiGirolamo MD, CFL1


Loss of muscle mass and strength with age is related to many factors including the overall physiological changes with aging and the menopausal transition, reduced activity levels, changing nutrition - among other factors. Excessive loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia) and strength (dynapenia) are major causes of mortality and loss of independence and quality of life in the aging population.


Hand grip strength (HGS) is an accepted measure that reflects overall muscle strength and is widely used as a central marker for the onset of sarcopenia. Poor grip strength has been shown to correlate with low bone mineral density (BMD), depression, anxiety, sleep quality, fractures, diabetes, falls, and malnutrition.

It is well known that decline in muscle mass, strength, and power decline as a result of the hormonal changes of the menopause transition. For this reason, greater attention is being paid to HGS as a predictor of decline in the female menopausal population with the goal of identifying risk factors early and potentially intervening to mitigate the risk.

Over the last three years there have been two original articles and two editorials in the journal Menopause, reviewed in my blog, Athletic Aging, as well as a great piece written by my friend, Selene Yeager, speaking to this very issue. The general consensus is that in the menopausal women studied, greater HGS was associated with a lower prevalence of moderate/severe problems with mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain/discomfort, and anxiety/depression.

This 2-part workout series focuses not only on functional movements that target grip strength, but also other elements of fitness important for mid-life women.

When doing these workouts, it is very important to warm up sufficiently and review the movement videos paying close attention to mechanics so that you can perform the movements safely. Last, but certainly not least, is the cool-down and recovery work. This is critical for returning your stress response system back to baseline to aid in recovery and readiness for any training that follows.


Warm Up


AMRAP 5 min (As many rounds as possible in 5 min). Perform each movement in sequence.


Movement Practice


Take 5-10 minutes to review the movements of the workout below and select your weights/options. Weights should be moderate where you can complete the first 2 rounds of the pulling movements unbroken, however as fatigue sets in, you may need to break the sets of 15 into 2 sets for the remaining 3 rounds. If you can do all rounds unbroken, then the weight is too light. For the farmer carry, select two heavier dumbbells or kettlebells at a weight that you can hold on to for the entire 50 feet. 




AMRAP (As many rounds as possible in 12 minutes)

  • 15 Pull-Ups (see below for other movement options) 
  • 50 foot Farmers Carry 
  • 15 Burpees (or other cardio activity for 45 sec - 1 min)

Score is the total number of rounds and reps that you can perform in 12 minutes.  


Pull-Up options:



Cool Down

If you have time, this is a great, 15 min, chest opening yoga sequence which balances this workout where the weighted movements are pulling your chest and shoulders forward.




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