Millennials really are losing their grip—at least compared to their dads.
Modern 20- to 30-year-olds have demonstrably weaker grip strength than men did in 1985, according to a new study published in the Journal of Hand Therapy.
Researchers rounded up 237 healthy young dudes ages 20-34—presumably when they weren’t busy Snapchatting and Netflixing—and asked them to grab a hand dynamometer, which measures how much force a person can exert with a good squeeze of their hand. Then the researchers—Elizabeth Fain, O.T.R./L., and Cara Weatherford, O.T.S., of Winston-Salem State—compared those measurements with grip strength standards from 1985.
The results? Most 20– to 24-year-old dudes averaged 101-lb grips in their right hands and 99-lb grips with their lefts. That’s not too bad, until you compare them to 20- to 24-year-old men in 1985, who averaged 121 and 105 lbs, respectively. Millennials aged 25–29 posted even worse declines, with grips that are 26 and 19 pounds weaker than their hair-band-era counterparts.
So what gives? We can’t just credit Old Man Strength (which is a real thing), since the researchers compared men of the same age. More likely to blame is the simple fact that the average American worker is hauling fewer heavy objects and typing more emails than we did 31 years ago.
“Work patterns have changed dramatically since 1985, when the first norms were established,” Fain, an occupational therapist, told NPR. “As a society, we’re no longer agricultural or manufacturing…. What we’re doing more now is technology-related, especially for millennials.”
Fain and Weatherford bring this up not to mock millennials, but to point out that the 1985 hand-strength standards—an important factor in assessing the severity of hand injuries—are, like most haircuts and jeans styles from 1985, probably a little outdated.
Case in point: Captain Balloon Arms, in the video below, who (rightly) earned some mockery at a Mets-Royals game back in 2013 when he met his match…in the form of an Aquafina bottle:
But that doesn’t mean we have to be okay with this. Modern bros might be getting soft and wimpy (and they’re definitely getting fatter overall) but we can’t just sit back and let all you flabby sacks of digitally-integrated flesh disintegrate into marshmallow men.
The solution: Grip strength workouts, which will not only shape you up for a winning handshake—the kind a potential father-in-law is gonna be looking for—but also improve your ability to do everything from deadlifts to pullups, since your smaller forearm and hand muscles won’t give out before your larger muscles do. Try a few of these routines, and buck the modern trend with your iron hand and arm strength: