How to Maximize Your Deadlift Grip – Find The Best Deadlift Grip For You

Man perofrming deadlift with mixed grip

This week, I was coaching some lifters in the gym and found that many novice lifters have no idea why we utilize the grips we use for the deadlift. When deadlifting, your grip is really crucial. Your ability to hold the bar will determine your ability to set the back and lift a weight.

The first stage to being a high-performer in the deadlift is to hold on to the bar. Furthermore, your grip technique might assist you in achieving a variety of other objectives. Although it may appear insignificant, factors like grip breadth, bar type, and hand orientation can have a significant impact on the type of gains you get.

In the deadlift, we use three main grips, all of which work and may be used at different stages of your lifting adventure. Keep in mind that the goal is for you to be able to hold the bar better, lift more weight, and gain strength.

With barbell training becoming increasingly popular in recent decades, it’s important to understand which grip is ideal for your goals. Here are the most prevalent grip styles and how they affect your training, from sport-specific performance to overall wellness.

Deadlift Grip Type 1 – Double Overhand Grip

man performing double overhand deadlift grip

The most basic grip is the double overhand grip, which we teach to all beginner lifters. Simply bend at the waist and wrap your thumb around the bar to squeeze it.

This grip is ideal for rookie lifters who are still learning a lot of new things. Most rookie lifters have trouble extending their lumbar spine (flattening their back), so with everything else they’re learning, the grip should be the last thing on their minds.

While it is a very simple technique, it is also one of the weaker grips to use for lifting heavy loads.

The double overhand can also help you build significant strength before your grip starts to become an issue.

You may notice that the barbell rotates while you deadlift since barbells have a bearing that allows them to rotate. Because the bar can rotate out of our hands at peak pressures, the double overhand grip will shortly fail. Nothing can stop the rotation with a double overhand hold once the bar starts slipping.

Another problem is that your ability to squeeze the bar and keep it high in your hand will weaken as the load increases. As a result, the bar will begin to move towards your fingertips during the exercise, resulting in a loss of lumbar extension in the majority of cases. This is something we do not want to happen. 

It’s time to switch to a new grip if you or your coach realizes this is starting to happen.

Most people who workout will be alright with this grip, but competitive powerlifters will find it difficult to maintain this hold later in their careers.

How To Perform The Overhand Grip

As you approach the bar, place your feet properly centered between the plates. Grip the bar with a comfortable spacing between each hand, which should be shoulder-width or slightly broader. Grip the bar with your fingers against your palm in each hand.

To avoid pinching your flesh when you wrap your fingers around the bar, put your hand on the bar in the highest area of your palm. Close your hand around the bar with both palms pointing down to secure your grasp.

Deadlift Grip Type 2 – Hook Grip

hook grip - deadlift grip

Hook Grip

A hook grip is a variation of the traditional overhand grip and is similar to the double overhand grip in that both hands have a pronated grip. Overhand grips frequently fail because the barbell rolls within the hands when the fingers get fatigued. When this happens, the weakest component of the hand (typically the pinky and ring finger) gives way, causing the grasp to collapse altogether. Placing your thumb between your fingers secures your hand around the barbell.

The hook grip is achieved by wrapping your thumb around the bar and then pressing your index and middle fingers towards the bottom of the bar. This movement retains the bar in your hand while also adding a friction point (the meat of your thumb) to keep it from slipping out of your hands. This grip secures you to the bar, allowing you to lift greater weight.

How to Perform the Hook Grip

Approach the bar in the same manner as if you were using an overhand grip. Instead of gripping the bar with your thumb on the outside of your hand, position it between the bar and your fingertips. To keep the bar in place, use the thumb as a “door jam.”

While the bar should no longer roll, this is a grip that requires a certain level of pain tolerance because it may be uncomfortable at first. Your thumb should desensitize and your hook grip should become more bearable over time.

Deadlift Grip Type 3 – Alternate Grip or Mixed Grip

man performing deadlift in alternate or mixed grip

For most lifters, a mixed grip is a natural transition from an overhand grip.

The alternate grip involves gripping the bar with your dominant hand in the conventional overhand position and your non-dominant hand supine (palm facing up).
When your usual grip has worn out, switching to a mixed grip might be a quick and dirty solution to keep your barbell in place. The mixed grip keeps the bar from sliding around in your hand or swaying from side to side.

Because the flipped hand exerts an opposite force on the bar, the alternate grip may help you to grasp the bar better than the double overhand grip.

When people only employ the same mixed grip, they can cause imbalances. For instance, they may consistently have their right hand down and their left hand up. As a result, it’s a good idea to switch hands whenever possible. Lifters adopt a strategy in which they switch hand positions during warming up, but use the most dominating hand position throughout the heavier sets.

One source of concern with the mixed grip is the possibility of ripping a bicep (on the underhand arm). However, this is primarily due to poor technique. The risk of tearing a bicep is low if you maintain your arms straight and avoid jerking the deadlift. When you bend the elbow on the underhand arm, you put a tremendous amount of strain on the bicep. To avoid bicep tearing, simply keep your arm straight throughout the whole range of motion.

Don’t overthink it. This is akin to how you faced one way or the other the first time you climbed on a surfboard. You did what was natural to you. The same holds true here; choose the hand that makes sense and feels comfortable to you.

How to Perform the Mixed Grip

As you typically would, approach the bar. Your dominant hand should begin with an over-hand grip. Wrap your second hand around the barbell in the other direction, palm forward. If your under-hand arm or shoulder is hurting, you can move your grip slightly outside to compensate for any mobility limitations.

So, What Is The Best Grip For Deadlifting?

The best grip in powerlifting is the one that allows you to lift the greatest weight.

Each grip has its own time and place.

Are you new to weightlifting? Just go for double overhand and don’t bother too much as of yet.

Starting to fail your deadlifts because you can’t hold on to the bar any longer, or rounding your back at the conclusion of a rep? It’s time to hook grip

Want to hook grip but can’t get your hands all the way around the bar, or do you want to die on the cross because it hurts too much? Alter your grip – go for mixed grip

The end goal is for you to become stronger. So, grasp the bar in the way your coach instructs you to, or in the way that allows you to lift the maximum weight.

Take Away

While it’s tempting to simply grab the barbell and rip out a few reps, you should give your deadlift grip some thought and practice. It has the potential to increase your pulling power. A proper grip affects more than only deadlifting. It also affects other parts of training wherever grip strength is important – think stronger forearms.

Allowing your grip to be the limiting factor in the weights you utilize is an excellent approach to gradually reduce your training intensity. Furthermore, different deadlift grips can help you develop your upper back significantly. 

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