Friday, July 27, 2012

Deadlift Grips



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.

The deadlift.

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.

11 comments:

  1. I do exactly what is described in the article: Double overhand grip for lighter sets, and mixed grip for heavier ones.

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  2. Jay, I find I automatically grab a barbell with a hook grip after training it for so long but with dead lifts I still use a mixed. So it's a mixed hook grip, thoughts? Should I pick one or the other or is this ok? You have much more experience than I do.

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    1. I use a mixed hook grip as well. No problems so far, feels solid.

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  3. < First commenter, should have been more specific..I'm not the author of the article.

    Interested in seeing responses to Brett though.

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  4. mixed hook grip sounds pretty gnarly, are you able to hook the supine hand as well?

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  5. I'm ok with a regular hook grip until you get to a weight you can't lift. Then I'd go mixed, no hook. I don't feel a mixed hook grip would really serve a purpose.

    Plus that sounds pretty harsh on the thing that sets us apart from other species: your thumb.

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  6. Yes, I am able to hook grip with both hands easily. Since i began training the hook grip to use with Oly lifts, i have a hard time not using it, and i used to train mixed grip with deadlift before training hook. I know it's weird to mix the two. I don't find it too hard on the thumbs though. Thanks Jay S!

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  7. I use a mixed grip because I have 4 fingers on my right hand, missing the middle finger, and the index finger has a pin in it so it only bends at the tip. Basically I only have the thumb, ring finger, and the pinky finger for grip. When I use a mixed grip, as the barbell slips from one hand it causes the other hand to grip more allowing me to roll the barbell as needed to maintain grip.

    I've never thought about trying to use straps for lifting since most meets don't allow them but I'm betting I would get a good amount of advantage from straps since I have less grip in my right hand.

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  8. I have uneven posterior chain and shoulder development from years of training a mixed grip. It's taken me almost three years of consistent over hand/hook training to even it back out. I still use the mixed for competition, though. I don't find any need to train it - if you have a strong over hand, I think it translates directly into a strong mixed.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. I agree, I use all of these grips depending on what my goals are. Currently I am just working on Power. I use double overhand grip for warmups, then use straps for my work set. AS I have heard you mention before deadlift is not a grip strength workout. So I strap in and build the big movers. This has helped me make progress as I stalled out at 505lbs while I was in CrossFit. Now (Not doing crossfit) since using straps, I pulled a 505lb for an easy triple the other day. I built some farmers walk bars that I can load up far past my capability this is my grip strength tool.

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