Grip strength on the deadlift is critical to increasing your pull capacity and surpassing your current limits.
On the deadlift, I use a different grip from the squat. I’m not talking about alternating versus pronated grips, which is more about which way your palms face. I am talking about where exactly the bar sits in your hands. I picked this up from Mehdi of Stronglifts.com, and you can see his article here.
There are two different placements of the bar in your hands for powerlifting. When your arm is below the bar holding it up, as in the squat, overhead press, and bench press, it’s best to have the bar deep in your palm and wedged between your thumb and forefinger. Let’s call this the “support grip” moving forward. Read about this grip type here.
When your arm is above the bar as it hangs, as in the deadlift and row, you will want to place the bar more on your fingers and the edge of your palm away from your wrist. I’ll call this the “hang grip”. I haven’t found any other names for these, but let me know if you do.
The Hang Grip
Practice before lifting weight.
- Stand in front of a barbell, ideally racked at mid-thigh height so you can practice easily.
- Place your open hand in front of the bar, touching the area between the base of your fingers and edge of your palm against the bar.
- Wrap your four fingers under the bar in this position.
Grip the bar super hard with your four fingers, and allow your thumb to pull in and clamp down over your fingers.
Why not grip the bar in the palm?
Gripping the bar higher up in the palm allows the bar to pull down on your palm and can roll open your hand during the lift. If you’ve ever done pull-ups with your whole palm on the bar, you’ve probably noticed the skin of your palm bunching up and getting in the way of your grip.
The same applies to hanging barbell lifts. Minimizing the amount of flesh between the bar and your grip maximizes your potential to keep that grip in tact through the heaviest of lifts.
It’s counterintuitive at first, that less hand on the bar is more potent of a grip. You’ll see once you try this grip that it really does help to keep the bar firm in your hands.
Build Grip Strength
The best way to increase grip strength can be done without any extra exercises or gear outside of the deadlift. This too was an idea I got from Mehdi Hadim. Love the guy.
- As you warm up for deadlifts, use the pronated grip, or both palms facing in to your body. Go as heavy as you can without losing grip.
- Once you get to a point of grip failure, use chalk with the pronated grip.
- If you can, do this until your last, heaviest work set.
- On your last set, you can use the alternating grip, which means one palm facing in, the other facing forward. Pick your strongest side to face forward. We’ll talk more about the alternating grip another time. It is a stronger hold on the bar but not necessarily the best way to pick things up from the ground.
- On the last repetition of your last deadlift set, complete the pull, and at the top position, hold the bar for 10 seconds (or more if you can solidly hold without losing your grip).
Start this with your next deadlift training session.
Let me know your thoughts!
To powerful living,