T Nation

Deadlifting Grip Width Recommendations

Hi all,

Prior to xmas I used CW’s ABBH program, followed by a strength focused routine. I was previously not pushing myself real hard in the gym and decided to actually have a go.
These programs did wonders for my deadlift, which went from 176 to 242 in about 12 weeks. What they did not help was my left forearm, which has some lingering tendon soreness just below my left elbow. This appeared after the last training session before xmas. The last set of that session my left hand grip was failing, but I pushed through to complete the 3 reps.

I figure I have located the weak link in my deadlifting ability and will need to work on my forearms a bit, but my question is this:

How wide a grip should be used for the deadlift?

I was using a grip with my ring fingers on the rings on the bar. I am 6’ tall, so it does not feel too wide, but I am thinking that it was too wide for my forearms to comfortably handle.
Anyone have any comments or opinions on this?



This is a simple Statics equation: The more verticle your arms the lower the tension the will see.

Look at it this way if you have two verticle cables supporting a beam they each support half the load. Now if you have two cables at equal but opositly oriented angles ( like /\ ) they will have the same verticle load as the cables in the previous example PLUS a horizonatl loads (equal load in each cable but oposite in direction to counter act each other)

Personally when I dead lift I keep my grip as narrow as possible without interfearing with my legs. You can also perform snatch grip deadlifts at a lower weight to help develop the muscles of your arms and upper back.

the smaller the angle your arms make with the bar (ie. going very wide), the greater the tension in your arms. personally, i grab the bar so that my thumb and index ginger are around the bar at the point where the knurled part and the smooth part meet. for me this is slightly wider than my shoulders. My arms make approximately an 80 degree angle with the bar. (I am 5’10" by the way) When you dedlift that wide, you are putting extra force in your arms. try to grab the bar just wider than your shoulders.

…oh and if the pain is really that bad, take some time off of movements that irritate the injury.

What stance are you using when you pull, conventional or sumo? For conv. your grip should be just outside of your legs (you stance should be approx hip width). For sumo, start with you arms haning directly under your shoulders and adjust if needed.

Sounds like these guys have solved the grip problem for you. But, do you do any grip work? Eventually, your forearms will need to catch up to your deadlift, no matter where your grip is.


Check out this program if you’re interested.

Yes, it is simple bio-mechanics. If you spread your arms out wider, you must crouch lower (or bend over more) to grasp the bar at the start of the lift. This makes the exercise more difficult (not always a bad thing) and will also put higher strain on your wrists. I like to do my shrugs and DLs with no straps until my grip becomes the limiting factor, then I add them in for the heavy sets. There are many good ways to increase grip/forearm strength: “Captains of Crush” grippers, chins and hangs from a towel, thick bars, wrist rollers, etc. My favorite is to simply hold up the loaded bar for as long as I can an inch above the rack when I finish my sets of shrugs or DLs. Try it.

Thanks guys,

I guess I should have thought about it a bit longer. That makes perfect sense.

The grip width was basically chosen so that I would start in a lower position. Also, I noticed my upper back was hit harder when using a wider grip.

No I haven’t done any direct grip work for a while now, I figured the weighted chinning and heavy deadlifts would take care of that. I now know better.


[quote]Kruiser wrote:
My favorite is to simply hold up the loaded bar for as long as I can an inch above the rack when I finish my sets of shrugs or DLs. Try it.[/quote]

This is a favorite of mine as well! If I’m doing shrugs or deadlifts and notice my grip is starting to slip I like to load up a bar for a super high “rack pull” and do a couple of sets of just hanging on for dear life! One thing is I never go to failure on these as obviously your grip gets hit in other exercises and you don’t want to kill.

Also thanks for starting this thread! my earlier reply reminded me of snatch grip deadlifts which I havent done for ever and am looking for a good upper back builder, plus it should help starting strength in regular deads!