Here is an exercise I've been using recently.
Pinch Grip Rope Pulls
Equipment you'll need
- a cable stack
- a rope attachment with thick knobs on the end
- a good grip!
How do I do it? Attach a standard knob-ended rope to a cable stack. Grip both ends of the knob (not the rope) as seen in the pictures below. Row the weight normally, as if you were doing a standing cable row.
From the side:
From the top:
You really need to squeeze the knobs tightly. You can't pinch lightly and pull any appreciable weight. You also want to make sure the knob is grease-and-grit free, and your hands are clean. It's a grip exercise but if the knob is slick plastic and you have any grit on your fingers, it'll just slide off. Chalk doesn't seem to help much on these, but your mileage may vary on that.
Why do it? It really gets your grip and your forearms, which are the limiting factors in this exercise. It's also a nice accessory pull. If you pull up and back (shrugging up the weight) it will be harder to hold the grip, so it encourages you to pull with your shoulders back and down.
Any variations? You can do a variation of this with a towel - simply loop a towel through the cable attachment clip, and squeeze it with your fingers. That will result in a very different grip, though, which changes the challenge significantly. This is not necessarily a bad thing - changing up your grip exercises periodically can't hurt.
How do I program these in? I've found they work best as a grip accessory, and for light additional rowing. You can't pull very heavy weights this way, but any significant weight does challenge your grip. I'd suggest starting with 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps, keep it light, and work up the weight from there.