What’s A Good Grip Strength?

Average Grip Strength Measurements By Age, Sex, + Hand Dominance

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When I was earning my Master’s degree in Exercise Science and Nutrition, we learned all about grip strength testing using hand dynamometers, but the day-to-day application didn’t seem to be of much value to the population of everyday athletes.

It wasn’t until I went back to school for a Master’s degree in prosthetics and orthotics that I saw the deleterious effect of having poor grip strength.

Much of the clinical population we were working with had injuries or loss of strength due to stroke, illness, or other neurological issues. There, I truly saw how important maintaining good grip strength is throughout the lifespan.

But, what does it mean to have good grip strength and how do you measure it? Can you improve your grip strength?

In this guide, we will discuss what grip strength is, factors that affect grip strength, how to test grip strength, and what is considered a good grip strength by age and sex.

Let’s dive in!

A person gripping a rope.

Does Grip Strength Matter? 

Like many people, I never put much stock in the importance of grip strength.

However, having good grip strength serves many key functions both in terms of athletic performance and functional performance for everyday life activities.

In terms of exercise and sports performance, here are some of the benefits of increasing your grip strength:

  • Improved ability to hold a tennis racket, lacrosse stick, golf club, or ski poles, among other sports implements
  • Improved ability to lift heavy weights for exercises such as deadlifts, barbell rows, farmer’s walks, curls, cleans, other Olympic lifts, etc.1Bohannon, R. W. (2008). Is it Legitimate to Characterize Muscle Strength Using a Limited Number of Measures? Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research22(1), 166–173. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0b013e31815f993d
  • Better able to do pull-ups and chin-ups in which grip strength is often the limiting factor contributing to an inability to perform the exercise.

Many research studies have demonstrated numerous benefits of measuring grip strength.

A person grabbing a barbell.

The following are some of the findings regarding the benefits of hand grip strength testing and having good grip strength:

  • Grip strength has been shown to be an indicator of your overall muscle strength such that good grip strength is associated with good overall muscle strength and poor grip strength scores indicate poor muscular strength overall.
  • Poor grip strength is associated with various musculoskeletal, neuromuscular,2Boissy, P., Bourbonnais, D., Carlotti, M. M., Gravel, D., & Arsenault, B. A. (1999). Maximal grip force in chronic stroke subjects and its relationship to global upper extremity function. Clinical Rehabilitation13(4), 354–362. https://doi.org/10.1191/026921599676433080 cardiovascular, and pulmonary health conditions.3Shah, S., Nahar, P., Vaidya, S., & Salvi, S. (2013). Upper limb muscle strength & endurance in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The Indian Journal of Medical Research138(4), 492–496. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24434255/ This isn’t to say that if you have poor grip strength, you will necessarily have one of these conditions, but low hand-grip strength abilities can be a sign or symptom of a host of health conditions.
  • Below-average grip strength and very poor grip strength can be a sign of sarcopenia (muscle loss) and frailty.
  • Normal grip strength in postmenopausal women is associated with healthy bone density4Kärkkäinen, M., Rikkonen, T., Kröger, H., Sirola, J., Tuppurainen, M., Salovaara, K., Arokoski, J., Jurvelin, J., Honkanen, R., & Alhava, E. (2009). Physical tests for patient selection for bone mineral density measurements in postmenopausal women. Bone44(4), 660–665. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bone.2008.12.010 whereas poor grip strength can be predictive of osteoporosis.5Di Monaco, M., Di Monaco, R., Manca, M., & Cavanna, A. (2000). Handgrip Strength is an Independent Predictor of Distal Radius Bone Mineral Density in Postmenopausal Women. Clinical Rheumatology19(6), 473–476. https://doi.org/10.1007/s100670070009
  • Studies have found that people with very low hand grip strength are at an increased risk of all-cause mortality and future disability while maintaining high grip strength as you age can improve health outcomes and the likelihood of being able to remain functionally independent.6Bohannon, R. W. (2008). Hand-Grip Dynamometry Predicts Future Outcomes in Aging Adults. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy31(1), 3–10. https://doi.org/10.1519/00139143-200831010-00002

Due to the evidence surrounding the association between good grip strength and good health and poor grip strength and poor health outcomes, researchers suggest grip strength becomes included in vital signs checked at physical appointments alongside vitals taken like blood pressure, heart rate, and body weight.7Bohannon, R. W. (2008). Hand-Grip Dynamometry Predicts Future Outcomes in Aging Adults. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy31(1), 3–10. https://doi.org/10.1519/00139143-200831010-00002

Measuring grip strength.

How Do You Measure Grip Strength?

In a clinical setting, hand grip strength is tested using a special tool called a handgrip dynamometer.

This is a device that you squeeze with your elbow bent at 90° and your fingers gripped around the device following a specific protocol.

There are also some hand grip strength test weight scales, but these are less common and not typically used in research studies or in physical therapy or gym settings.

What’s A Good Grip Strength? Average Grip Strength Measurements By Age, Sex, and Hand Dominance

One study evaluated the hand grip strength of 1,232 adults between the ages of eight and 85 in the United States.8Wang, Y.-C., Bohannon, R. W., Li, X., Sindhu, B., & Kapellusch, J. (2018). Hand-Grip Strength: Normative Reference Values and Equations for Individuals 18 to 85 Years of Age Residing in the United States. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy48(9), 685–693. https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2018.7851

The average grip strength for men by age group was higher than the average grip strength for women of the same age group, meaning that good male grip strength is higher than a good female grip strength for age-matched peers.

A person rock climbing.

Across both sexes, the average grip strength decreases with advanced age such that the oldest adults have the lowest average hand grip strength.

The other intuitive trend in hand grip strength norms demonstrated in the results of this grip strength research study is that grip strength is higher in the dominant hand compared to the non-dominant hand in the same individual.

For example, if someone is right-handed, their best hand grip strength score will almost always be higher in their right hand than their best grip strength test score in their left hand.

Looking at all of the data from the hand grip strength study, the highest average grip strength weight was 49.7 kg for the dominant hand of men in the 25 to 29-year-old age group.

This is equivalent to a max grip strength of about 110 pounds.

The worst grip strength weight or lowest grip strength ability was seen in the non-dominant hand of females in the 75 to 79-year age group, coming in at an average grip strength of 18.7 kg.

This grip strength test score is equivalent to approximately 41 pounds.

Male Average Grip Strength by Age

The following table shows a selection of data regarding the average grip strength for men by age group based on the results of the study. The data presents grip strength in the dominant vs dominant hands. Therefore, good grip strength would be anything above these averages.

AgeDominant Hand (kg)Non-Dominant Hand (kg)Dominant Hand (lbs)Non-Dominant Hand (lbs)
18–24 47.844.5105.1697.9
25–29 49.347.2108.46103.84
30–34 46.145101.4299
35–39 50.147.2110.22103.84
40–44 45.942.7100.9893.94
45–49 40.740.489.5488.88
50–54 44.844.398.5697.46
55–59 38.737.285.1481.84
60–64 40.337.188.6681.62
65–69 36.637.580.5282.5
70–74 36.334.579.8675.9
75–79 33.530.273.766.44
80–85 29.527.364.960.06
Measuring grip strength.

Female Average Grip Strength by Age

The following table shows a selection of data regarding the average grip strength for women by age group based on the results of the study:

AgeDominant Hand (kg)Non-Dominant Hand (kg)Dominant Hand (lbs)Non-Dominant Hand (lbs)
18-2428.424.762.4854.34
25–29 29.627.565.1260.5
30–34 29.827.665.5660.72
35–39 30.327.666.6660.72
40–44 30.429.366.8864.46
45–49 28.726.963.1459.18
50–54 28.226.462.0458.08
55–59 24.123.553.0251.7
60–64 24.422.653.6849.72
65–69 22.221.448.8447.08
70–74 22.520.949.545.98
75–79 18.218.640.0440.92
80–85 19.519.342.942.46
Measuring grip strength.

An Australian population study did a less detailed analysis of average grip strength for women and men by age.9Massy-Westropp, N. M., Gill, T. K., Taylor, A. W., Bohannon, R. W., & Hill, C. L. (2011). Hand Grip Strength: age and gender stratified normative data in a population-based study. BMC Research Notes4(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1756-0500-4-127

‌Rather than separating by hand dominance, the researchers measured grip strength in right vs left hands; 89% of participants were right-handed.

What’s interesting here is that grip strength did not decline much with age until the oldest age groups.

Age    
Male Grip Strength Left Hand (lbs)Male Grip Strength Right Hand (lbs)Female Grip Strength Left Hand (lbs)Female Grip Strength Right Hand (lbs)
20–2999 1036166
30–391031036368
40–4999 1036163
50–5994 995761
60–6983 885052

If you have concerns about having poor grip strength for your age, sex, or health, speak with your doctor or work with a physical therapist to start strengthening your grip strength muscles or to identify underlying causes of below-average grip strength.

If you are looking to improve your grip strength, check out our grip strength workout here.

A person working their grip strength.

References

  • 1
    Bohannon, R. W. (2008). Is it Legitimate to Characterize Muscle Strength Using a Limited Number of Measures? Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research22(1), 166–173. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0b013e31815f993d
  • 2
    Boissy, P., Bourbonnais, D., Carlotti, M. M., Gravel, D., & Arsenault, B. A. (1999). Maximal grip force in chronic stroke subjects and its relationship to global upper extremity function. Clinical Rehabilitation13(4), 354–362. https://doi.org/10.1191/026921599676433080
  • 3
    Shah, S., Nahar, P., Vaidya, S., & Salvi, S. (2013). Upper limb muscle strength & endurance in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The Indian Journal of Medical Research138(4), 492–496. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24434255/
  • 4
    Kärkkäinen, M., Rikkonen, T., Kröger, H., Sirola, J., Tuppurainen, M., Salovaara, K., Arokoski, J., Jurvelin, J., Honkanen, R., & Alhava, E. (2009). Physical tests for patient selection for bone mineral density measurements in postmenopausal women. Bone44(4), 660–665. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bone.2008.12.010
  • 5
    Di Monaco, M., Di Monaco, R., Manca, M., & Cavanna, A. (2000). Handgrip Strength is an Independent Predictor of Distal Radius Bone Mineral Density in Postmenopausal Women. Clinical Rheumatology19(6), 473–476. https://doi.org/10.1007/s100670070009
  • 6
    Bohannon, R. W. (2008). Hand-Grip Dynamometry Predicts Future Outcomes in Aging Adults. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy31(1), 3–10. https://doi.org/10.1519/00139143-200831010-00002
  • 7
    Bohannon, R. W. (2008). Hand-Grip Dynamometry Predicts Future Outcomes in Aging Adults. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy31(1), 3–10. https://doi.org/10.1519/00139143-200831010-00002
  • 8
    Wang, Y.-C., Bohannon, R. W., Li, X., Sindhu, B., & Kapellusch, J. (2018). Hand-Grip Strength: Normative Reference Values and Equations for Individuals 18 to 85 Years of Age Residing in the United States. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy48(9), 685–693. https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2018.7851
  • 9
    Massy-Westropp, N. M., Gill, T. K., Taylor, A. W., Bohannon, R. W., & Hill, C. L. (2011). Hand Grip Strength: age and gender stratified normative data in a population-based study. BMC Research Notes4(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1756-0500-4-127
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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