T Nation

Grip Questions


So I'm competing in a day less than 4 weeks in a push pull and my PR DL without straps is 435 and I just pulled 485 at the end of my workout with straps. In every deadlift workout I do I go double overhand for all of my warm up sets and basically as high as I can, about 315 for 4. Then switch to mixed grip until as high as I can, usually through working sets of 365 to 425 depending on the day and reps. Obviously I need to get my grip to catch up and I've been training it with holds from the rack with 425 and then hang cleans with a fatter olympic bar on my back days and then DB holds and single arm BB holds. My questions are:

  1. What are some other recommendations that might help me push my grip up pretty fast? How many days a week to train it? etc... I just read an andy bolton article and got some ideas about the plate deadlift holds.

  2. I'm using liquid chalk and a pretty worn down bar for deadlifts, don't have any choice at the gym I'm at. Will real chalk and a good bar make a pretty big difference come competing time?

  3. Just to make sure, the bar that is used in competitions is pretty much the standard bar you find in the gym? like not as thick as an "olympic" bar (I call it this because it has more spin and bearings in the end and is just a tad bit thicker than all of the other bars).

  4. Lastly, is there anyone on here that uses a hook grip? I'm contemplating starting a hook grip because I just started deadlifting 6 months ago and since I'm already having grip issues that's not a good sign. Is it expected to be able to hook grip more than a mixed grip? (once I build my thumb up to hooking it) I know oly lifters use it since they have to have double overhand position but I have only seen a few videos with powerlifters with a hook grip


the meet bar will make a difference as will real chalk.


This. Meets will almost always have a for real DL bar. It will have some pretty sweet knurling, be a bit thinner, longer, and will have more whip to it. I haven't used one in competition, but I've used one a couple times in training, and I've gotta say, it's amazing. I got about 15-20 lbs out of a good bar.



The bar is also smothered in chalk from the guys that went before you.

I had grip issues as well, dropped straps and started prioritizing it and it's not an issue any more. I see you have been deadlifting for 6 months, how long have you focused on your grip? It will take a bit of time to catch up, but it definitely will, imo.


I don't think pulling double overhand with a regular bar helps improve your grip at all for deadlifts. This is just personal opinion. I haven't seen it work too well. That being said, deadlifts with a fat bar, mine is about 3inchs around, work very well. Whenever I can pull over 400 with a double overhand grip and no chalk, I know that 800lbs won't be a problem to hold onto.

Plate pinches and farmes walks (or any carries with the weight in your hands) work very well too.


I haven't been training grip for too long, probably a month or two and I haven't prioritized it because I thought it would gradually go up but truthfully I haven't given it enough time. Hopefully it'll pick up though. Thanks for all the feedback everyone.

One more question though, since the meet bar will more than likely be easier to hold on to, how much should I take that into account for my opening lift? My goal is to pull 455 with the bar I'm using now before meet time and to pull 500 with straps a week out (I know its not really important because if you can't hold onto it, it's not a real DL but just for my own personal satisfaction I want to pull 500 with straps).

So say I'm pulling 500 with straps 2 weeks out and 455 without straps with my normal bar/setup, then what would yall recommend for a good opener? I've been set on just pulling 405 for an opener (which I can get 4 times without straps) but if I can pull what I just mentioned in two weeks and the meet bar should be a little easier to hold onto then what are your recommendations?

I don't want to start at 405 when I might be able to pull 470 since I probably won't go that high if I start so low. Then again, I don't want to start 405, then go 455 and not be able to hold onto it.


What are your goals for this meet? After you answer that it'd much easier to give you advice about attempts. Are you looking for a specific total? Do you want to get all your lifts?

I think relatively big jumps for deadlift attempts are just fine. Especially if this is your first meet. Open low then go higher. If 455 goes with your current set-up I would make that your second attempt and then go for something around 475 if you feel like you've got it. This would put your opener around 415 or so from my perspective. Opening low is not bad (you get three attempts!). The way I look at it, even on a good day pulling 3-4 singles one being a max and the others at least 90% of that is tough. And if you do these getting successively heavier you'll likely decrease the last one (the maximal one). So, here's my philosophy (granted I am not that experienced) if you are training with a normal bar and will compete with a deadlift bar. Make your opener less than 90% of you planned maximum lift (think about this as your last warm-up set) then hit whatever your gym PR is for your second attempt, then go for a bit more on the third. For example, I have a push/pull meet coming up in 2 weeks, my best gym pull (normal bar) is 555, and my attempts are planned at 525, 560, 585.

Good luck!

Ditch the straps for a while. Oh, and for what it is worth, I found initially that I got a quick boost in grip strength doing supramaximal rack pulls. Short range of motion with 110% of deadlift max. When I did it I was about where you are training timewise and weightwise and I was very quickly able to hold onto 500 (just a few weeks).


Well I'd say my goal for this one for DL is 475. I may only be deadlifting now... It was a push-pull but I just strained my pec so I'm not gonna be able to bench for at least a week if not more. I may still bench but I was very close to 300. Anything less than that will be disappointment. And I wont get to compete again until july or august maybe. I'm in PT school and we have 32 hours next semester along with perhaps some of the hardest classes in the curriculum so while I'll still be lifting hard throughout, I'll probably be a lot shorter on sleep/recovery and high on stress next semester. Also, I have heard that SLP will get newbies a 4th attempt if they hit all three sometimes but I don't want to bank on that. I think if I'm getting 455 with my current setup, then 415-425 for my first, 460 for my second, then 475 sound pretty good so I may try that per your advice.

And I only use straps after I've hit a good number of reps without, just to keep pushing the other muscles. Usually, this is 405 for 3-4, 415 for 2, 425 for 1, and 435 for 1, then I start with the straps for just a set or two. After that I'll usually put 415 on the bar in the rack just above standing level just to grip it along with whatever else I have planned for leg day


Ditch straps for the next year at least. What helped me alot was the following

1) fat bar rack pulls and regular rack pulls.... high weight low reps
2) Kroc Rows..start lighter, but eventually if you are doing sets of 30+ with 100 lbs..grip will definatley improve
3) tons of weighted chins. I do 5 sets of 10, varioius grips
4) snatch grip deadlifts, chalk only, once again i do 5x10.

I have never had one iota of a grip problem since I started doing the above.


I use a hook grip for my deadlifts. I can only speak for myself here, but it's like pulling with straps when I use this grip. It's pretty solid.
The major disadvantage with it though is that you can forget about using it for reps more than 1 or you'll destroy your hands. So you're pretty much forced to use straps for rep work.


@666Rich: I don't have access to a fat bar and being in med school living off a loans isn't a great time to buy one or go to a gym that isn't free but I'm definitely gonna keep hammering heavy rack pulls. Our DB's only go up to 100's and I perform high reps/isometric holds/slow eccentrics with those but have gotten slack on including them so I'll start programming them more often, possibly with a towel wrapped around the handle. With weighted chins I go up to 90 lbs strapped on me for 3 reps and my grip never seems to be the problem on those really. I'll try out the snatch grip DL.

@supa power: how long did it take you to build up to being able to get your max with it? Do you tape your thumb? Is it acceptable to tape your thumb in competition for most federations?


I have used a hook-grip for my 'top-end' deadlift/pull work for the last 18 months. I don't tape my thumbs and figure it took 6-8 months to get used to it....if you want to call it that. As has been mentioned when used properly it is rock solid for singles. For 3 or 4 I have to re-grip for each rep and the dis-comfort/pain is greater. I think most lifters would pull more with a mixed grip.


Well I might start trying to implement the hook grip after this comp in Dec since it seems I wont be able to build up to my max with it in that short time. A little update about tonights workout though that I'd like to get some ideas on if someone can comment.

I hammered my grip really hard tonight with heavy rack pulls and I found that I'm stronger with my left hand overhand and my right hand underhand than vice versa. I'm right handed so obviously having my right hand pronated is more natural but I wasn't able to even pick up 445 with that as opposed to left hand over/right under being able to pick it up and hold it for a few seconds. Is anyone else stronger with their non-dominant hand being overhand in the mixed grip?

I think it could be due to the fact that I might have broken my ring finger on my left hand a while back. My ring and pinky finger seem to slip on my left hand first so with the left supinated those have more pressure so thats what makes me think that could be the case.


I'm right handed and I did what came natural; right hand supinated and left pronated. From my personal observation, the opposite of that is more common for righties, but that's not to say it's uncommon at all.


Alright, thanks for the response. Doesn't quite feel as natural as the other but then again perhaps it does because I pull more weight. It feels more natural on rack pulls but not grabbing it from the floor I guess. That could be because I've grabbed it from the floor most often with the right pronated.



what really helps with the dumbells and chins is High Reps. I mean tons and tons. I did not find these to be all that beneficial in the low rep range because you cant load it like you would a rack pull. Thus, low rep rack pulls are good because you can pile on the weight, working absoulute grip strength. High rep heavy chins and dumbells will work the strength through repetition and the endurance.

Endurance is important when you are doing your workouts..so you can pull more reps at a given percentage of your max..you get more reps, you then get stronger. See the connection? I know many people are opposed to deadlift for reps...but it works for me.

If you want any more advice about DL, shoot me a PM..I am not an expert, but i do have a well over 3x bw deadlift.


Well I have always done olympic lifts as part of my training from day 1 so the hook grip was implemented on them at first. It took a good 2 months before my hands were 100% used to it. By this I mean that at first, the skin on my thumbs was tearing off as well as the thumb ligament was sore from time to time. The first 2 weeks are the roughest, most will drop it at this stage, but if you stick with it you will have a good grip for life. I actually never taped my thumbs, I found that it made it harder for me to get a proper grip with tape around them. Not sure if taping them is generally legal or illegal in powerlifting. It's certainly legal in weightlifting though.

Just to clarify, I only use this grip for singles. It is very tough on your hands for multiple reps.


I've made good progress developing my grip for DL doing relatively high rep DL sets.
If your max is around 500, something like 3 sets of 315x8 twice a week should do the trick.


All I've gotta say is real chalk is amazing. Finally got to use chalk for the first time a few days ago and pulled 465 easy. My back wasn't feeling good and I attempted 475 but missed it just because I couldn't lift it, not as a result of my grip. I'm thinking about basing my attempts off of what I can pull with straps whenever the comp comes around. I'm of course going to keep training my grip hard so I'm thinking it will keep up but I think the chalk will make 500 possibly attainable. Anybody agree, disagree? I want that 500 bad.

Also if anyone can comment I have two heavy DL workouts left (for leg days I alternate speed pulls followed by squats on 1 day and then heavy DL on the other day). I'm thinking about 4 sets of 4 for the next one then maybe 5 sets of 3 on the last one which will be a saturday, then some speed pulls with 50-65% on the tuesday before the comp. Any other suggestions? Should I attempt a near max on either of those days instead of the sets listed?


btw I don't have any real chalk right now and with thanksgiving break coming up I'll be training in random gyms and my guess is most wont allow me to use it so I'll keep using liquid chalk as much as possible then straps only for the last set or two to make sure I get all I can