Ever wondered if your handshake was strong enough? What does a good handshake tell you about a person?

New research suggests you should be very concerned about the quality of your handshake and your grip strength as indicators for your health and well being.

Research published in The Lancet  has found that a weak handshake can signal an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke. The four-year international study, involving almost 140,000 adults in 17 countries, concluded that a handshake is a better predictor of premature death than traditional blood-pressure testing.

I attended a very interesting presentation on Grip Strength on recent trip to the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s National conference in New Orleans.

The presenter a very inspirational and inspiring woman named Dr. Arianne Missimer and her topic:

Grip Strength: Unleash the secret to primal strength, injury prevention, and overall health.

Dr. Missimer recently competed on the show America Ninja Warrior so she brings lots of credibility and personal experience to this topic.

Grip strength is a widely accepted indicator of nutritional status, bone mineral content, muscular strength and functional integrity of the upper extremities.

Definition: Grip Strength is the force applied by the hand to pull or suspend from objects and is a specific part of hand strength.-1

The research on this is conclusive:

Hand grip strength has been found to correlate with strength of other muscle groups and is thus a good indicator of overall strength.13 

Good muscle strength in midlife may protect people from old age disability by providing a greater safety margin above the threshold of disability. In old age, decreased muscle strength predisposes people to functional limitations and disability.1– 3

Grip strength is a predictor of mortality, disability, disease complications, and increased length of hospital stay.

Through the principles of irradiation gripping something will have implications as you move up the chain of the arm through the elbow and shoulder.  The assessment of grip strength plays a vital role in determining the efficacy of different treatment strategies of the hand, elbow, shoulder and core in rehabilitation.

If this isn’t enough evidence for you then perhaps these implications of a weak handshake will convince you to put some grip in your shake. -3

You’re less likely to find a sexual partner

In 2007, Gordon Gallup, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Albany, published research which concluded that men with firmer-than-average handshakes had “increased sexual opportunities,” which resulted in an increased number of sexual partners, and younger ages of first sexual encounter. He also found that males with strong grips were also likely to be more aggressive and dominant, and have more masculine body types.

You’re less likely to be well educated

Last year Warren Sanderson, a professor of economics at Stony Brook University, and Sergei Scherbov, deputy program director of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), published research which concluded that “at any fixed chronological age, more educated people have stronger handgrips than less educated people”. They found that the handgrip strength of a 65-year-old white male with less education was equivalent to the handgrip strength of a 70-year-old white male with more education. Ergo, the more educated a person is, the more slowly he ages (and the better his handshake).

You’re less likely to succeed in job interviews

A survey conducted in March this year found that a weak handshake is one of the biggest mistakes people make in job interviews. The research conducted by Front of House Recruitment found that employers felt that a lacklustre grip portrayed a lack of confidence and enthusiasm among candidates.

Or perhaps they were just worried about new recruits dropping dead on the job.

How can you test grip strength?

There are several tools you can buy to measure grip strength. Several varieties of Dynamometers are on the market and the results vary with their individual testing standards. There are differences expected between males and females, and with your hand dominance.

Dr. Missimer gave this testing protocol that we can do easily to see if you meet the standards in the gym:

Hold a dumbell or kettlebell in each hand for 30 seconds. Observe posture, breathing and compensations of the client. Men should be able to hold 50 lbs in each hand easily, and women and kids 35 lbs.

 Here are a few pictures of the many grip options:

Grip Types:
Pinch Grip


Crush Grip






Even Popeye had grip!


How do you train grip strength?

Roll out your hands and forearms with a small ball. (Spikey is recommended.) We have been rolling the rest of our body so why did we forget the hands?

There are so many ways to improve your grip. Start light and gradually increase the time, repetitions, and frequency of your exercise.  Make grip training part of your training plan and you will see the results of consistent effort over time.

Holds, loaded carries in three positions,  and armbars are all great options!

Hanging (fixed and then add sways) and flexed arm holds as well and chin ups and pull-ups.

Strength training has lots of opportunities to train your grip with dumbbells, kettelbells, ropes and handles/bars for pushing and pulling exercises.

So of course exercise is the secret that you need to unleash your primal strength, prevent injury, and promote your longevity! Get some today!

Let’s shake on it!

In case Jon McComb asks me during the Fitness segment on CKNW (Heard every thursday at 9:05 am 980 am)  what a good handshake should look and feel like I have included some guidelines below from etiquette expert William Hanson – author of The Bluffer’s Guide to Etiquette.

Listen here if you missed the segment!

“The main thing now, as then, is that you need to look the other person in the eye. If you are not making eye contact it is perhaps because the other person is intimidating you, you lack confidence or you feel you have something to hide.

“The palm must face inwards, so there is a sense of equality. A lot of people who work in middle management go in with their palms facing downwards to try to dominate you. They are up the pecking order but not quite at the top so they are probably a bit insecure and they want to show who is in charge. A former headmaster of mine always used to do that.

“Your left arm should stay by your side – there is no need to put in over the other person’s hand or on their arm.

“In Britain it should last for two shakes. It can be very uncomfortable if it goes on for longer. In the Middle East it does go on for much longer, but then it is much limper too. They have adopted the handshake because it is the internationally accepted greeting, but it is not how they traditionally greet each other, so there is not much commitment to it.

“You will want your handshake to be less strong if you are greeting an older woman or a child, but otherwise it should be pretty consistent.

“If you think you might have a bad handshake, the simplest thing is to try it with someone you know will be honest – your boyfriend, your girlfriend, a friend, your mother – and see what they say.”


Written by:Sheila Hamilton July 2016



Grip strength is correlated with the strength of the upper extremity, general strength of the body and some anthropometric measurements (Balogun et al., 1991)

Grip power is the result of forceful flexion of all finger joints with maximum voluntary force that the subject is able to exert under normal biokinetic conditions (Koley et al., 2009).

Rantanen T, Guralnik JM, Foley D et al. Midlife hand grip strength as a predictor of old age disability. JAMA 1999; 281: 558–60

Midlife hand grip strength as a predictor of old age disability T Rantanen, JM Guralnik, D Foley, K Masaki… – Jama, 1999 – jama.jamanetwork.com Research from JAMA  http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=188748

Clinic Notes NSCA National Conference -1 Slides form Dr. Missimer’s presentation

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/11604997/Do-you-have-a-weak-handshake-Here-are-four-more-reasons-why-you-should-be-worried.html -3