Ask The Trainer #133 – Best Grip For Deadlifting

Ask The Trainer #133 - Best Grip For Deadlifting

QUESTION:

I was wondering if you think it’s bad to use a mixed grip on a barbell when doing deadlifts? A trainer at my gym told me that using a mixed grip would make me more prone to injuries, but he didn’t really explain how or why? I was wondering what your take is on this and what type of grip you recommend using.

Rich


ANSWER:

Hi Rich. I have to agree with your trainer on this one. Using a mixed grip (one hand pronated with the other hand supinated) can actually make you more susceptible to certain types of injuries if you use this grip every time you deadlift.

The mixed grip will definitely make for a stronger grip; this is why competitive powerlifters use it. It prevents the bar from rolling and unraveling your fingers. However, when you lift the bar this way your torso has a tendency to twist as the bar is traveling upward. The side of your body with the hand applying the pronated grip will want to rotate backwards, while the side of your body with the hand applying the supinated grip will want to rotate forward. This will cause an unequal distribution of stress between the two halves of your body.

That means if you always use this type of grip, eventually you will develop some muscle imbalances that can make you more prone to injury. Not to mention that when your hips are forced out of alignment while you are pulling, it can trigger a low back or hip injury.

Another thing that can go wrong when using a mixed grip is that the arm with the supinated grip will be at a greater risk of sustaining a biceps rupture. The distal biceps tendon is subjected to a much greater degree of stress during a deadlift when the hand is gripping bar the with the palms facing upwards.

I’ve actually seen guys rupture their distal biceps tendons during powerlifting competitions I’ve competed in. It’s pretty gross to watch. You can literally see the lower part of the biceps tear away and jump up the lifter’s arm towards their shoulder.


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Hook Grip

On that note, I’d say using a mixed grip every now and then generally won’t be a problem. It’s only when you use it all the time that injuries will be more likely to occur. A safer way to grip the bar would be by using a hook grip. It will feel a bit awkward and uncomfortable at first, but if you practice this grip religiously you might be able to grip the bar just as efficiently as you would using a mixed grip.

In fact, I know a few guys who swear they get an even stronger grip using a hook grip. To apply a hook grip, simply hook your thumbs around the underside of the bar, then wrap your fingers around the top side of the bar with your first 2-3 fingers wrapping around your thumbs, locking them firmly against the bar.

If you really can’t bring yourself to make friends with this type of grip, then your best bet would be to buy a pair of lifting straps or Versa grips to secure your hands while using a double overhand grip. Some people might say you are cheating by using these accessories to the grip the bar. However, if you’re not training for powerlifting competitions, who really cares?

I hope this information answers your question. I wish you all the best of success in your training and fitness endeavors!

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Chad Shaw

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