Home / Deadlift Grips – Best 5 Grips Explained

DEADLIFT GRIPS:
BEST 5 GRIPS EXPLAINED

Updated: 12 June 2024 

In strength training, few exercises rival the deadlift for sheer power and comprehensive muscle engagement. Whether you're a powerlifter, bodybuilder, CrossFitter, or strongman enthusiast, mastering the deadlift is essential. One often overlooked but crucial aspect of deadlifting is your grip. 

In this article, we’ll dive deep into why grip matters, explore common grip issues, and break down the best deadlift grips to help you lift heavier and safer. 

Read on to learn how improving your grip can take your deadlift to the next level.

WHY GRIP IS IMPORTANT ON DEADLIFT?

Grip matters. People use different grips to target various muscles, improve grip strength, and accommodate individual preferences or anatomical differences.

Your grip is the literal connection between you and the barbell. A strong, secure grip can make the difference between a successful lift and a failed one. It affects your ability to control the bar, maintain proper form, and lift heavier weights. Without a solid grip, your potential for building strength and muscle is limited.

HOW TO STOP DEADLIFT FROM SLIPPING?

To improve grip strength for deadlifts, you can use lifting straps to lift heavier weights without straining your grip, chalk to absorb sweat and increase friction, hand grippers to strengthen your grip, and exercises like farmer's walks, plate pinches, and wrist curls to enhance overall grip strength.

WHICH GRIP VARIATION IS THE BEST?

There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer for the best deadlift grip. The best grip depends on your goals, experience level, and personal comfort. Varying your grip can help target different muscle groups and prevent imbalances. It can also keep your training interesting and help avoid overuse injuries.

 

A close grip engages more back muscles, while a wide grip increases range of motion and challenges grip strength. Alternating your grip can balance muscle development and reduce the risk of injury. Generally, the mixed grip is considered the strongest for maximal lifts because it prevents the bar from rolling out of your hands.

 

Overall, the mixed grip is the easiest and most practical for lifting heavy weights, but the double overhand and hook grips are better for building muscle and grip strength. Mixed grip also requires the least effort from certain forearm muscles, which can help you lift heavier weights without your grip being a limiting factor.

 

Double overhand grip & hook grips are better for activating and strengthening your forearm muscles. If you want to build grip strength and forearm muscle, these grips are the best options. However, they might make the lift feel more difficult compared to the mixed grip

DEADLIFT GRIP VARIATIONS

1. OVERHAND GRIP DEADLIFT

An overhand grip deadlift is when you hold the bar with both palms facing you. It's typically used by beginners and intermediate lifters because it's simple to learn and helps build balanced muscle development. Lifters use it to improve grip strength and overall control of the bar. 

Pros:

  • Simplest to learn
  • Great for beginners
  • Balances muscle development

Cons:

  • Limited by grip strength

2. MIXED GRIP DEADLIFT (ALTERNATE GRIP)

A mixed grip deadlift, or alternate grip, is when one hand grips the bar overhand and the other underhand. It's commonly used by powerlifters lifters to lift heavier weights since the grip provides a stronger hold, making it ideal for maximal lifts.

Pros:

  • Stronger grip for heavier weights
  • Prevents bar from rolling

Cons:

  • Slight risk of muscle imbalances
  • Potential for bicep tears on the underhand side if form is not correct

3. HOOK GRIP DEADLIFT

A hook grip deadlift involves gripping the bar with your thumb wrapped under your fingers. Olympic weightlifters and advanced lifters often use it to maintain control of the bar during the violent explosion of the lift. Though it can be painful to learn, it allows for lifting heavier weights safely.

Pros:

  • Extremely secure grip
  • Preferred by Olympic lifters

Cons:

  • Painful to learn
  • Can cause thumb discomfort

4. SNATCH GRIP DEADLIFT

A snatch grip deadlift uses a very wide grip, with hands placed far apart on the bar. This grip is typically used by Olympic weightlifters to increase their range of motion and improve grip strength. It targets more of the upper back and shoulders, making it a great variation for overall strength development.

Pros:

  • Increases range of motion
  • Enhances grip strength

Cons:

  • Harder on the shoulders
  • Requires more flexibility

5. THUMBLESS GRIP DEADLIFT

A thumbless grip deadlift, also known as a "suicide grip," is when you hold the bar with your thumbs resting on the same side as your fingers. Some lifters use it to reduce strain on the thumbs and improve the mind-muscle connection. However, it is less secure and carries a higher risk of dropping the bar, so it's not recommended for heavy lifts.

Pros:

  • Reduces strain on the thumb
  • Can improve mind-muscle connection
  • Can improve your grip and finger strength

Cons:

  • Less secure
  • Risk of dropping the bar

6. UNDERHAND GRIP

An underhand grip deadlift is when you grip the bar with both palms facing up. This grip is less common but teaches better external rotation at the shoulder, scapular stabilisation, and lat engagement. It's important to be cautious with this grip as it can increase the risk of bicep injuries.

Pros:

  • Teaches better external rotation at the shoulder, scapular stabilisation, and lat engagement
  • Can feel more natural for some lifters

Cons:

  • Higher risk of bicep injury
  • Can cause wrist strain

7. AXLE GRIP DEADLIFT

An axle grip deadlift involves using a thick bar, or axle, which is much harder to grip than a standard barbell. Strongman competitors often use this grip to build tremendous grip strength. It's very challenging and not recommended for beginners, but it helps develop powerful forearm and hand muscles.

Pros:

  • Builds tremendous grip strength
  • Great for strongman training

Cons:

  • Extremely challenging
  • Not suitable for beginners

USING STRAPS WHEN YOU DEADLIFT

Using straps when deadlifting can help you lift heavier weights and focus more on your muscles, but don’t rely on them too much as it can limit your grip strength development. 

For different deadlift variations: 

  • Sumo Deadlift: Typically uses a mixed or overhand grip with hands inside the knees
  • Conventional Deadlift: Allows all grip types based on preference, 
  • Hex Bar/Trap Bar Deadlift: Often uses an overhand or neutral grip for ergonomics, 
  • Romanian Deadlifts: Commonly use an overhand grip to target the hamstrings and glutes.

PREFERRED GRIPS FOR DIFFERENT STRENGTH SPORTS

POWERLIFTING

In powerlifting, mixed and hook grips are common for lifting maximum weights. The mixed grip prevents the bar from rolling, while the hook grip provides a secure hold. Ray Williams, a world-class powerlifter, uses these grips to achieve his record-breaking squats and deadlifts.

OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING

Olympic weightlifters prefer the hook grip for its secure hold during fast, explosive lifts like the snatch and clean and jerk. Lasha Talakhadze, an Olympic gold medalist and world record holder, uses the hook grip.

CROSSFIT

CrossFit athletes use a variety of grips—overhand, hook, and mixed—depending on the exercise. This versatility is key to adapting to different movements. Mat Fraser, a five-time CrossFit Games champion, uses a verse range of diverse grips.

BODYBUILDING

Bodybuilders typically use overhand grip to ensure balanced muscle development and mixed grip. Phil Heath, a seven-time Mr. Olympia winner, uses the overhand grip in his training. Arnold Schwarzenegger, reportedly deadlifted around 322 kg (710lb) during his prime, preferring an overhand grip for his deadlifts to maintain balanced muscle development.

STRONGMAN

In strongman competitions, a wide ranges of grips are used for the wide range of objects they have to lift like axels. 

DEADLIFT GRIP FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why is mixed grip deadlift easier?

The mixed grip prevents the bar from rolling, allowing you to lift heavier weights.

Which grip is the strongest for deadlifts?

The mixed grip is generally the strongest for maximal lifts, followed by the hook grip.

Is hook better than mixed grip?

It depends on personal preference and goals. The hook grip is more secure for Olympic lifts, but can be painful to learn, while the mixed grip is easier but can lead to imbalances.

Can mixed grip tear the bicep?

Yes, the underhand side of the mixed grip can increase the risk of bicep tears if not performed correctly.

Does lifting straps really help?

Yes, lifting straps are a great tool if you want to lift more and grip is a limiting factor. Read more about it in our How to use Lifting Straps Guide.

Does deadlift grip affect muscle growth?

Yes, different grips can target different muscle groups and influence muscle development.

Why do people use opposite grips?

Using an opposite grip (mixed grip) helps prevent the bar from rolling and allows for heavier lifts.

Does deadlifting build biceps?

Indirectly, yes. While the deadlift primarily targets the back, legs, and core, the biceps are engaged, but are not the primary muscle worked.

Which deadlift grips can you use in competition?

In most powerlifting competitions, the overhand, mixed, and hook grips are allowed. Olympic weightlifting competitions typically use the hook grip. Be sure to check your competition rules before an event.

What is the heaviest overhand deadlift?

The heaviest overhand grip deadlift is a 240 kg (529 lbs) double overhand axle deadlift by strongman Terry Hollands.

Title

CONTENT AUTHOR:

Adam B. / Director, Turtle Strength

 

Adam is passionate about powerlifting, strength training and digital marketing. Created Turtle Strength to find the best possible product to meet the needs of training. 

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