The Importance of Grip Strength for Law Enforcement OfficersAug 20, 2023
Grip is an essential strength and skill for Law Enforcement Officers.
To state the obvious, an adequate level of grip strength and grip endurance is needed for many situations that cops face on the job, such as hands on encounters, shooting a handgun or rifle, and picking up and/or carry people or other heavy objects.
What is less known and understood by many is the health advantages that come along with grip strength. We will break these down in this article along with 4 major reasons that having a strong grip is an advantage to the LE Professional.
Whether it's a handgun, or a rifle, using a firearm safely and effectively requires solid grip strength.
Trigger pull takes a level of grip strength in itself. But managing recoil, gripping and applying pressure to the gun leading to more accurate shots is another. Grip is one of the most important components of accurate shooting.
In one recent study done with a Canadian Police Agency, grip strength was tested (in pounds) prior to completing their agency's annual Police Pistol Qualifications (PPQ).
In this study, they determined that grip strengths in the range of 80-125lbs were needed to score 85% or above on the PPQ.
Not so good news for the ladies - they also found that the average grip strength of the female officers was 77.5 lbs., which correlated with lower scores for the PPQ. The research suggested that some female officers may want to have pistols with a lighter trigger pull weight for this reason.
It should also be noted that working to increase grip strength will also help female officers perform better on the PPQ.
2) Defensive Tactics
As stated above, it makes sense to most that having better grip strength could lead to better outcomes during hands on encounters.
In the combative and self defense environment, your grip strength could make or break you.
This is why, even for skill building/training for the clinch and entanglements, weapons are on.
With that, gaining inside control of another person comes from a variety of positions. Grip strength plays an important role in a majority of those. The ability to control and maintain wrist and pinky line control could be the difference between getting shot or stabbed in the clinch!
Other places to note grip strength advantages:
- The ability to control arms for extractions during handcuffing
- Weapon defense and weapon retention inside a CQB space
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3) Necessary Life Saving Skills
Your hands are the main point of contact for the majority of critical, life saving skills. This is a very broad category, intentionally, since "life-saving" could mean so many things: Hanging, pulling, dragging, carrying, medical, combatives, utilizing a weapon, etc.
You truly never know what this job (and life) will throw at you, and there's a very good chance that it will be a stressful situation, if and when the time comes; this is why we incorporate "tactical" drills within our strength & conditioning programs.
An example is applying a tourniquet under high levels of muscle fatigue, adrenaline, with heart rate elevated and heavy breathing. These physiological responses to stress can easily hinder your fine motor skills, so practicing them during training is something we can do to refine those skills under simulated stressful scenarios.
4) Longevity and Health
Let these statistics sink in:
- According to the Journal of Preventative Medicine, 40.7% of Police, Firefighters and Security Guards are obese and have the highest rate of obesity of any profession.
- Those in the LE profession are 25 times more likely to die from weight-related disorders, like cardiovascular disease (CVD), than they were from actually fighting crime or due to actions from criminals.
- CA Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) research noted that the life expectancy of police officers is 10 years after retirement.
- According to one study, male officers have a significantly lower life expectancy than the average US man. Specifically, the study found that an Officer who lived to age 50 could expect to live only 7.8 additional years.
- In 2014, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation released a new statistic, which stated 8 out of every 10 (80%!) of Law Enforcement members were overweight.
There is legitimate data that Law Enforcement, as a profession, is quite unhealthy.
How does this relate to grip strength?
Grip strength (or lack of) is a sign of cardiovascular health, respiratory diseases, nervous system function, and overall health.
A 2018 study published in The BMJ (a global healthcare research provider) examined how the grip strength of over 500,000 adults between the ages of 40 and 69 correlated to their rates of healthy outcomes. What they found: A measurement of under 57 pounds for men and 35 pounds for women was correlated with “higher overall risk of death and higher risk for specific illnesses.”
Ultimately, grip strength has become a tell-tale biomarker of strength and longevity. As a young person, a strong grip = strong body. As we age, strong grip becomes the difference between taking care of yourself, or needing others assistance for things like hanging on to railings, opening jars, carrying things, etc.
As a Police Officer, training your grip can pay off in the short term by increasing ability to shoot more accurately, carry/drag/pull/lift heavy things, essentially making you a more prepared and effective cop.
But building that foundation now... it will remain stronger for longer. And that is the ultimate goal.
How Do I Train Grip Strength?
Simply by resistance training regularly, even with minimal equipment such as dumbbells and kettlebells as little as 2-3x per week, you can improve (or maintain) your grip strength throughout your career and into your retirement.
In the Effective Fitness Program, we use movements that focus on grip on a weekly (even daily) basis: Deadlifts, Pullup and Row variations, Farmers Walks, Kettlebell Swings, and many more.
We also highly recommend that Police Officers train Jiu Jitsu 1-3x per week. This in itself is a great way to improve your grip strength.
With that being said, many of our EFT members who train Jiu Jitsu state that the first thing to fatigue while rolling is their grip. One great way to combat that is to train it in the gym or at home with grip training tools listed below:
Grip Training Tools:
If you have questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to reach out via email at [email protected].