Two Options For a Deadlift Grip
To rip your biceps or tear your thumbs… that is the question. Ok, maybe not that extreme, but those are the two major fears with mixed grip and hook grip when deadlifting. The good news is that both of those are avoidable. The real difference is between the two is simply how you grip the bar and the difference in back position for both grips. Let’s discuss what a proper hook grip looks like and what the difference is between the two grips.
Kinds of Grips Explained
The hook grip is a double overhand grip that wraps the fingers over the thumb to create a tight hold on the barbell. Mixed grip, on the other hand (no pun intended), has one pronated and one hand supinated to create a hold on the barbell that cancels the spin of the bar. Why would you pick one grip over the other?
Pros and Cons of Both Grips
A hook grip allows both hands to be pronated which can make it easier to set your back tightness compared to mixed grip. The only risk is possibly tearing your thumbs and the pain that comes with having the weight rested on your thumbs.
A mixed grip is a bit more comfortable on the hands, but makes it harder to set the back tightness on the supinated hand. This can lead to a small bend of the elbow, which in turn places more strain on the underhand bicep. This can ultimately lead to a bicep tear if not addressed with the correct technique. Placing that much pressure on the bicep is nearly impossible with hook grip as the double overhand grip straightens the arms naturally.
Steps for a Perfect Hook Grip
How do you set up a hook grip? The hook grip involves having the fingers wrap over the thumb to create a tight hold on the bar. Although this sounds simple enough, there are a few key steps to a solid hook grip that will not tear your thumbs.
- Reach for the bar with internally rotated shoulders
- Wrap your index or middle finger (depending on how long your fingers are) over the thumb nail while bending your thumb to be parallel to the bar.
- Slightly pull on the bar to set it on the lowest point of the hand (this will ensure the bar doesn’t tear the webbing on your fingers)
How to Avoid Injury With a Hook Grip
What are the common mistakes with hook grip? The most common mistake is setting your thumb too deep into the bar and having the bar pull on the inside webbing of your thumb. This is what causes the tearing of the thumb skin commonly seen with inexperienced powerlifters who use the hook grip.
The easiest way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to use chalk and set the bar on the lowest possible part of your thumb. This can also happen if you try to wrap too many fingers over the thumb causing the bar to be rested on the webbing of the thumb.
Both Options are OK, but the Hook Grip Wins
While a mixed grip is not inherently bad, hook grip does offer a viable alternative that can help some lifters.
So, to reemphasize the benefits of a hook grip, there is no possible strain on the bicep and it can make it easier to set your back tension.