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Deadlift: When to switch to mixed grip [Article, Video]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Aug 7, 2018 9:30:00 AM

deadlift when to switch to mixed grip

Deadlift: When to switch to mixed grip


You should switch to the mixed grip whenever the double overhand grip starts to fail you. The overhand grip should be used as long as you can. Once you get stronger repeat the process and go back to the double overhand grip with heavier weights. 

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Why should you know when to switch grip?




To be an accomplished lifter it is good to know which options are available to you. If you train the same way today than you did 10 years ago, it is very likely you did not make a lot of progress. Keep an open mind. Become a student of the art of strength. Knowing different types of grips and when to use them will make you stronger.


Knowing when to switch grips optimizes your time in the gym. It also spices up the daily routine. This is a topic you should not think too hard about. If your grip is your limiting factor it is best trained separately.


What grips are out there?




The most common grips for barbell training are


  • Double overhand grip
  • Mixed grip
  • Hooked grip

 

The double overhand grip is the grip most people use when they start. This is the most natural and intuitive grip. Both palms are pointing toward you. 


Youn will usually learn the mixed grip next. The mixed grip usually has your dominant hand facing palm towards you. The other hand's palm faces away from you. This grip is very famous amongst powerlifters. It provides extra strength and stability to the deadlift.


The hooked grip is usually the grip you will learn last. This grip is a special variation of the double overhand grip. In this variation, both palms face towards you. The thumbs are wrapped around the barbell. You then close your fingers around your thumbs with the barbell in between. Think of it like punching someone with a clenched fist with your thumb inside. This grip is most used by weightlifters. It combines the advantages of the mixed and double overhand grip while making you develop a higher pain tolerance. This is why the hooked grip is not for beginners.


Which grips do I use when?




The answers vary considerably. Some say from 225 pounds deadlift onwards, others say 405. In my opinion, the most complete answer is this:


Use the double overhand grip for as long as you can in each session. Once you start failing with the double overhand in your training switch to the mixed grip to complete the remaining sets. If you can complete all of your sets for the day without a double overhand, great. Otherwise, use the mixed grip to finish.


Once you get into weightlifting it is recommended to learn the hook grip. You will want to pull heavy weights. You still need to be able to get the weight overhead during the snatch and clean and jerk. This is not possible with the mixed grip. The double overhand grip will limit your potential weight that you can pull off the floor. Therefore, the hook grip is the better alternative.


What are the benefits of the mixed grip?




The mixed grip has the following benefits over the double overhand grip

  • You can do the same weight for more repetitions
  • You can do heavier weight than with the double overhand
  • You can hold onto the bar longer during the lift

 

The mixed grip lets the barbell roll out of one hand while rolling into the other. This provides a stronger grip. A stronger grip will lead to higher training intensity for the rest of your body. As the grip can become the limiting factor to your training the mixed grip can bridge in between.


What are the disadvantages of the mixed grip?




The disadvantages of the mixed grip are compared to double overhand:

  • Creates imbalances in the body
  • Higher risk of torn biceps
  • Promotes a weak grip

 

One argument being brought forward is that the mixed grip creates imbalances in the body. This can be easily fixed by switching grip from session to session. However, I do not think based on what I read and see that this is a big point. Fix your hip imbalances for the squat first before worrying about the mixed grip.


The higher risk of a torn biceps is true. Also the risk of shoulder injury increases. Usually, the arm which palm faces away from you is the one to sustain an injury. This can be fixed through proper deadlift form. While the mixed grip creates the weak link, the impulse for the injury comes from other parts of the movement. A torn bicep is usually caused by a flexed arm. If you perform the deadlift properly your arms are straight from the start. Therefore the weight won't straighten the arm for you and create a tear in the bicep. Shoulder injuries are usually a result of jerking the bar. Again this can be avoided by setting the lift up properly. Getting tension before initiating the pull straightens the arm and avoids jerking. So the main driver for these injuries is not a mixed grip, but poor deadlift form.


The mixed grip does promote a weaker grip compared to training with a double overhand grip all the time. You have to remember that your grip will always be a weak link based on anatomy. There are no big muscles in the forearm or wrist. Therefore the grip is most likely to cave in first during a hard deadlift. The deadlift itself is not the best way to address this bottleneck. Dedicate targeted work to your grip. You can find proper routines and equipment on Ironmind.com.


Conclusion 



The main comparison is between the double overhand and mixed grip. For most lifters the hook grip is too painful to learn and not worth the pay off. The double overhand grip should be used as long as possible. As soon as the double overhand grip starts to fail you, use the mixed grip to finish up the day. To increase your grip strength turn to grippers and ropes, not to the barbell deadlift. 


Further reading 

 

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Topics: Lift stronger, Deadlift, Strength