For levering, I'd do this:
Here's a cool tip from Joe Defranco that might be helpful (I've never tried it myself though):
Q: Hey Joe,
I train jiu-jitsu 3X per week and I box 2X per week. Although strength training is not my focus right now I’m still trying to get to the gym 2X per week to maintain my strength and stay injury free. The one thing I want to improve upon is my grip strength. But the problem is that my hands, especially my fingers, are so darn beat up from grabbing the gi & punching that I feel like any extra grip training may backfire on me.
Any suggestions for strengthening my fingers/grip without making them even more beat up? Or am I getting enough work with my other activities?
I appreciate your time.
If you would have asked me this question 2 weeks earlier, I would have just told you to lay off the grip work while you’re focusing on your jiu-jitsu & boxing. But, after discussing this topic with my good friend & client, N.Y. Giants O-lineman Dave Diehl, I have a different answer. You see, although Dave hired me to train HIM, I constantly pick his brain because he is a very intelligent athlete that is extremely in tune with his body. He has been a tremendous asset to me because he gives me feedback that one can only get from actually playing a professional sport.
Anyway, one of the hardest things for an NFL lineman to do is to keep his hands and fingers healthy throughout the season. Throughout this past season, Dave swore to me that one of the main reasons he was able to keep his hands and fingers healthy “in the trenches” was because he started performing rice digs throughout the season. Now when Dave talks, I listen. Dave has started 65 straight games for the N.Y. Giants…that’s every single game since Week 1 of his rookie year! Needless to say, Dave knows how to take care of his body.
Anyway, although Dave knows I respect his opinion, he also knows that I like to try things out for myself before I give it my full endorsement. Well, 2 weeks ago Dave was nice enough to donate a 6 lb. tub of rice to my facility so we can start incorporating “rice digs” with our athletes. And I must say that the “rice digs” do exactly what Dave claimed they did; they strengthen your hands, fingers & forearms without causing a tremendous amount of trauma or soreness. In fact, they can actually help alleviate soreness from grabbing, punching, etc. This makes for a great in-season exercise because it helps maintain strength while NOT making you too sore. Basically, rice digs do for your hands & fingers what light sled dragging does for your legs after a heavy leg workout.
Rice digs are pretty simple. Basically, all you need to do is fill some kind of bucket with (uncooked) rice. Once you get it set up all you do is dig your hands into the rice and start squeezing. You can increase the intensity by twisting your wrists both clockwise and counter-clockwise as you squeeze. This is best done for timed sets or until failure at the end of your workout.
I HIGHLY recommend this exercise to wrestlers, mixed martial artists, boxers, baseball players and football players!