This Weird Tool Will Improve Your Grip Strength

"Elephant Balls" make dead hangs extra difficult. We explain how to use 'em.

A pair of Elephant Balls, the grip strength training tool, in front of a picture of the savanna.
Where do you get these? And where did that funny name come from? We got you.
Awesome Woodys, David Clode/Unsplash

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Grip strength is no laughing matter. In recent years, it’s been demonstrated to have prognostic value for longevity, while also establishing correlation with cardiovascular health, bone mineral density, mobility, overall strength and even cognitive function. Seniors with stronger grips routinely score better on “tests of working memory, processing speed, and verbal ability.”

Still, it’s kind of funny that one of the best tools for improving one’s grip strength is a pair of wooden balls named for their resemblance to the size and shape of a bush elephant’s testicles: Elephant Balls.

The unlikely training tool — which, at the moment, you can only buy in or ship from Australia — represents a perfect marriage of long-term health and short-term gains. It’ll make tomorrow’s strength-training workout much harder, while making it that much easier for you to accomplish daily tasks when you’re old and gray. Here’s how the balls work and how to…get your hands on a pair.

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What Are “Elephant Balls”?

Elephant Balls are spherical wooden workout tools that can latch to and dangle from a pull-up bar, or some other high, stationary support, like a branch. They provide a larger surface area for a person to grasp, activating the grip muscles in the hands and forearm in a way that conventional equipment often falls short of.

When used for pull-ups, the tool intensifies the workout, transforming a common exercise into a relentless grip-strength drill. As a result, you’ll find your ability to hold and control other fitness equipment — barbells, dumbbells and climbing ropes — significantly improved.

I’ve spent some time playing around with Elephant Balls (sorry), and readily admit that they’re not easy. You’ll find yourself gassed after even just a few pull-ups. And it’s an unfamiliar “gassing,” too — starting with the tiny muscles in the hands — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying. Even just clinging to them for dead hangs here and there will work wonders.

For a clear visual of what an Elephant Ball pull-up looks like, head here. And here’s a handy workout to get your routine started:

Try This Elephant Ball Workout


  • Arm Circles: 20 repetitions each for both forward and backward circles. Great for loosening up the shoulder joints.
  • Wrist Rolls: 10 reps each direction to prepare your wrists for the gripping action.

Workout Routine:

  • Elephant Ball Hangs: Hang for 30 seconds at a time. Repeat three times.
  • Elephant Ball Pull-Ups: Aim for three sets of five reps.
  • Bodyweight Squats: To lengthen this workout, do three sets of 15 reps.
  • Push-Ups: And finally, three sets of 10-15 reps.

Cool Down:

  • Arm Stretches: Reach one arm across your body and gently pull it towards you with the other arm. Repeat on the other side.
  • Wrist Flexor Stretch: Extend one arm in front of you with your palm up. With your other hand, gently press down on the upturned hand to stretch your forearm’s underside
  • Full-Body Stretch: Stand tall, reach your arms above your head and gently bend side to side.

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