Article written by Jay Stadtfeld for LiftBigEatBig.com
The meet doesn't begin until the barbell hits the floor. It's when men (and women) find out what they're worth. It's the one lift that can make or break your entire day.
There are three different grips that are predominantly used when deadlifting: the hook grip, the mixed grip, and the double overhand grip. Below is detail into which is which, how to know if you should use it, and which could be safer for you to use.
Hook Grip: Ah, the hook grip. The only grip I've ever used that feels like my thumbs are going to detach from my body like some alien life form and crawl away. Typically, this particular grip is used more for Olympic lifting, as the mixed grip wouldn't allow Olympic lifts to be completed with the grace necessary for that particular sport.
Aside from the thumb issue, it's one of the safer grips that can be used for deadlifting, as it leaves your biceps in less of an injurious position (as does the double overhand), and many top deadlifters use this particular grip, such as Brad Gillingham, who I witnessed pull 837 using this grip.
To effectively use this grip, you must have a strong supporting grip. In other words, you should be able to hold onto the bar without your fingers becoming “un-flexed), otherwise the bar will roll, and you will obviously drop the barbell.
Mixed Grip: The mixed grip is what you'll see most people, including myself, use.
This particular grip allows you to hold heavier weight as it prevents the bar from rolling around in your hand. However, this grip often will feel awkward to first-time users, as you will ultimately have to pronate one hand while supinating the other, making it feel like the bar may be uneven when you're pulling it. By no means does this mean your grip itself is stronger in this position. 500 pounds will still be 500 pounds in your hands, no matter which grip you use. It just may make it seem easier to hold onto since it won't be trying to “unglue” your fingers.
People also feel like they may injure a bicep more often, as noted within the hook grip explanation with this particular grip. If you feel that way, I would suggest adding some bicep work in. The stronger the tendons and muscles, the stronger you'll be overall.
Benedikt Magnusson deadlifts with a mixed grip, and he's the current World Record holder with a deadlift of 1015 pounds.
The benefit to this grip is without a doubt the ability to hold onto the barbell. It's just much easier for someone to do. It also seems that, within my own experience, it's easier to pull the bar back into you, thus keeping the weight over your center of gravity.
There really isn't a particular way to train to use this grip, either. You either like it, or you don't. If not, then perhaps the hook grip will work well for you.
Double Overhand Grip: Undoubtedly the hardest of the grips. With this particular grip there are no fancy methods to help you out. You can't grab your thumb (hook grip), nor rotate a hand and get after it (mixed grip). You're left with stone cold forearm and grip strength
Due to that disadvantage (not many people have an incredibly strong grip without specifically training it), I'd often only recommend this grip for warm-up sets to your working set of deadlift. I recommend this so as to augment your grip strength. The stronger the grip, the easier the previous two grips I described will become.
Either way, you should find a way to implement all three of these grip styles into your deadlift training. Why pigeon hole yourself to one method, when all three will forge hands of steel? You have the tools, so get to using them.