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Deadlifts w/ Small Hands?


Hi, all.

I've been at this for a year now and my lifts are:

Bench - 70kg BB or 32.5kg DBs
Chinups - BW + 20kg
Pullups - BW + 10kg
Squats - 90kg
Overhead Press - 25kg DBs

And I'm a huuuuuuuuuuge 5'6" at 67kg! Nothing to impressive but its a start.

I'm planning on really upping the weights on the squats and deads to around 140kg over the next couple of months and I'd like to see my bench at 80kg before the end of the year to. Let you know how that goes :slightly_smiling:

I'm starting adding Deadlifts but find it hard as hell to keep a grip on the bar at anything over 90kg. My back can lift much higher but the bar slips out of my grip.

Yep, I've got pretty small hands (it ain't true what they say about men with small feet and hands!).

Any ideas on what to do to get a better grip?

Before you say it of course I'm going just start going for it and performing deadlifts on a regular basis.

Anyone else out there with small hands and finding it hard to keep a grip?

Excuse the metric weights - I'm Australian.


Right there with you. I ran into problems pretty quickly with my deadlifts pretty quickly after I had more than two plates on either side.

A bit of chalk makes all the difference for me - I have small, AND sweaty hands.


Use a mixed grip if you don't already. Also use chalk, and if you can't get chalk then at least use a towel to keep your hands and the bar clean and free of moisture...this makes a big difference.


The mixed grip doesn't work for me. I feel a overhand grip is stronger.

I tried the towel - didn't work to well, the towel just slipped all over the place as well. I wipe the bar down before each set but only get about 2 or 3 reps before the bar is sweaty again and CRASH the bar slips out and I make a lot of noise.

The chalk business I'm going to try. I'll be the only one in my gym with chalk - its not exactely hardcore.


chalk is a MUST all 'hardcore' lifters use it pussies use gloves.


Not sure about men who use gloves being pussies! :slight_smile:

But I stopped using gloves in the first month of my training - I found I was much stronger without them. I could grip better with my bare hands.


Get some straps


worst idea don't do this straps are worse then gloves, you will fuck up your grip strength. Chalk doesn't do anything but allow you to stick better since bars can get wet and slippery-if you can't hold the weight the chalk wont change anything- Also did I mention chalk is dirt cheap?


unless you doing powerlifting meets, wich i didnt see mentioned, just use straps. Are you doing dead lifts just so you can get a stronger grip? or do you want to get a bigger and stronger back/legs. Use straps they wont fuck up your grip


Bullshit. Get straps. DL is for training the back, not fucking grip training.

If you know you can pull more, get straps and pull more.

Work on your grip, but don't limit your back training because your grip is weak.

Look at the pros - they all use straps.


I used to struggle gripping over 100kgs but over time my grip improved. I can handle up to 170kgs now. You should be able to get to 140 in little time. Hit sets of around 3 gradually increasing the weight.


I find it really hard to believe that your overhand is stronger than your mixed grip. The basic mechanics of a mixed grip allow you hold more. You must be doing something wrong.


Agreed. I have relatively small hands as well and the mixed grip works fine for me.


Have you tried the hook grip yet?


Don't know if it'll help, but here's my buck oh-five. (Oh, and I'm a 5'2" girl.)

I have small hands. Like shopping in the kids department for gloves small hands. I can just barely, if I stretch, touch my thumb and middle finger around an o-bar. Yes, it sucks. Just to make it worse, by gym may as well be using chalk-sniffing dogs by how strongly they ban chalk - including liquid.

I deadlift in front of a squat rack. I can usually squeeze out 2-4 reps before my grip gives out. A quick step forward and I can drop the weight into the front hooks.

EDIT - Forgot to add that I've tried gloves and straps. Both add so much bulk that I REALLY can't hang on any more. Barehanded is the only way I even have a shot at hanging on to anything.

Since that's usually not enough for my back, I'll superset with something else, like one-leg RDL, row, good morning, whatever will fatigue the area a bit more that I can actually still hang on to. Rest, towel off briskly, repeat.

It is true what they say. Small hands, small feet, tight



Who cares? Everybody's probably already watching you lift since anything over 225 seems enormous to most yuppy-gymgoers. I train at 24 Hour Fitness which is about as far from hardcore as you can get.

Here's what I figured out - call them up, ask them if they have rules AGAINST chalk. They'll say no, since they usually don't have any rules about chalk at all. Then take yours in. I use a rock-climbing chalk bag since I already had one lying around, even a small dusting eliminated grip problems entirely for me.


I had the same problem starting out and have smallish hands also.

Get straps. I found that actually strengthened my grip. Why? Not sure. However, the grip muscles are a weird bunch and don't need anything near max effort to develop, I think something like 65-75% of your max effort on grip will develop it just as well as max effort.

So using straps, which decreases the effort of your grip, yet allows you to do more deadlifts etc.. (and, in fact, heavier ones) is probably what did the trick.

I also found that both hands overhand worked better than mixed grip. Go figure!

Hooking your thumb over your index finger helps a lot too.

Obviously if slipping due to sweat etc.. then chalk, gloves, better knurling on bar can all help. Also, get a bike tire inner tube, cut it up, make some rubber squares to wrap around the bar, works real nice if you wrap it the RIGHT way (not so it unwraps when you hold it).

I don't agree with "deadlifts to improve grip" - if your grip lets your deadlift down, then focus on grip until it is good enough. Deadlifts are not the most efficient way. Thick handled, one handed holds are better. There are many other better ways to get grip up to speed. In meantime, don't sacrifice the benefits of deadlifts by not using straps.

I like the Ironmind straps the best they are great, self adjusting etc.... and can be released, and damned strong.


Worst idea? I guess if you want a strong grip it might be, but last I checked this was the "bodybuilding" forum.

Personally I don't use straps until I really need them, but this is only to build my forearms. In doing this my grip also has become strong... but that doesn't help me with the ladies!


From Dave Tate.


Scroll down to number 24.


Mixed grip - I feel unbalanced with one under and one over hand grip. Just me personally. I see at least someone agrees with me! I understand the mechanics but we're all different.

I am not going to use straps. Again just personally I decided at the start of this that I want to do all lifts 'naturally'. When the bar slips from my hand then that's the weight I can pull - no more no less. If I want to lift more then my grip will have to get stronger - and it will in time I am sure.

This kind of thinking paid off on my chins and pullups. 1 year ago I was using lat-pulldowns and assisted pullup machines. With peristance I'm looking hardcore with a 20kg plate around my waist screaming "BooYa!" and nutting out 3 reps.

As for my motivation I'm going for overall strength and decent numbers with my lifts. I've found if you focus on this the bodybuilding aspects of nice looking muscles come naturally in time. I'm going for an overall fitness as well, with some running in my regime (a fast, under 30 minute run once a week).

I just competed in a 4.5km race and managed it in 21mins 4secs.

One piece of advice from one noob to another - lift as heavy as you can without any assistance or prop, rest when tired, eat well, do a little (not a lot) of cardio and most importantly enjoy it. I love it!


It's normal to feel unbalanced with an alternating grip. Although it felt a lot stronger than a normal grip the first time I did it, it took me weeks to get used to it. You might wanna give it more time and patience.

Since you're insisting to get your grip stronger instead of using straps, buy one of those captains of crush grip thingies and grip them like there's no tomorrow. However, you're gonna have to decrease the volume of your grip-demanding exercises.

Speaking of which, did you know that grip strength is greatly affected by CNS fatigue? You better be well-rested when doing deadlifts to get the most out of your grip.