Here Is What You Should Do If Your Hands Hurt From Deadlifts
July 15th 2019
You are deadlifting your working sets but your hands are hurting, is this normal?
Believe it or not, if you are a serious lifter who put in years into the gym, this experience should be no surprise to you.
After a heavy set of deadlifts, the weight may feel like a ton.
Your hands feel as though they have been ripped up and are super red.
You may even be contemplating quitting.
As someone who has been strength training for over six years, I can sympathize with you - it really sucks because there are very few people who can understand what you are going through.
You are not injured but your hands are just so sore from deadlifts that you do not want to do anything else.
So, here is what you need to know if your hands hurt from doing deadlifts.
My hands hurt from deadlifts
- Use lighter weights to make your hands hurt less
- Use straps (depends on the lifter)
- Get used to the pain
- Make sure to take proper care of your hands, fingers, and forearms
Use lighter weights
If you just did your heavy working sets, use lighter weights to place less strain on your forearms.
Chances are that you do not feel this way regularly (if you do, NICE JOB! Keep training hard.)
So, it is okay to give your body some rest so that it can recover for the next hard session.
If your hands are hurting while you are doing your working sets, you need to toughen up.
Do you want to get stronger or not? If you do, stop complaining.
Would you rather endure this short term pain for long term success?
You would say 100% yes in a heartbeat.
Reminder - Always try to use a double overhand grip
When you get the chance to use a double overhand grip, take it.
For your working set, you may use a mixed grip or hook grip.
That is fine and it has been proven through centuries that those two grips will help you lift more weight than doing double overhead grip.
But, the double overhead grip does have its place in training - you need to have a strong grip.
And every time you practice your double overhead grip in training with your lighter sets, you are getting stronger each day.
You may not notice it immediately but you will gradually see a surge in your strength and physique.
Many elite lifters advocate the use of straps.
But that is the thing though, they are elite lifters.
You reading this article - you are probably a beginner or intermediate athlete.
You need to take their point of view into consideration.
The elite lifters you are watching on Youtube or Instagram have much more gym experience, injuries, and stories that they lived through.
What is good for them may not be the best for you.
So, what can you do
Just do something.
If you want to use straps, then use them for a certain period.
Personally, I have used straps for a certain period of time and it felt alright.
But one of my weaknesses of the deadlift is grip.
So, why should compromise my grip training when I have so many opportunities to train it?
So, for the past few years, I have eliminated straps from any main sets and accessories.
A comment to this approach is that I could be working on my strength over addressing my weaknesses.
True, but I want to do this my way until I see a different alternative.
One great video I would recommend that all lifters watch is this interview with Ed Coan.
Legendary powerlifter Ed Coan shows the world his secrets for a strong deadlift - to have a strong grip.
He gives a great accessory grip movement at around 8:40, so it would be in your best interest to take a look to see if you can optimize your training further.
What weight is enough?
If you have not deadlifted 405lbs yet or 2.5x your bodyweight, you should not be using straps (in my opinion).
There are just so many things you could be learning to help you become a better lifter.
Using straps this earlier will handicap you very early on in your lifting journey.
If you are curious, go ahead but only for a short period of time.
Your hands may always hurt
Imagine if deadlifts did not hurt your hands.
Would you still treat it with the same respect?
So, in a way, the deadlift is humbling you.
It is revealing your strength and weaknesses as you perform the exercise.
It shows you that you are mortal but at the same time, you want to crush heavier and heavier weights.
Deadlifts are training your body to handle greater stresses.
So, you should be very grateful that you get to experience all the gifts that the deadlift awarded you with.
Take care of your hands
At the same time, you do not need to be an animal all the time.
Your hands are an integral part of deadlift training.
It would be unwise to abuse it and let it heal on its own.
So, make sure you take care of your hands after working out.
Clean it well with soap and water.
Give your hand, fingers, and forearm a massage if you can.
Take care of your calluses so that they do not rip mid set and you start to bleed everywhere.
Just as if you were to go foam roll your larger muscles on your back and legs, why not do the same for your hands?
Give your hands a good stretch.
If your hands are too dry, use some lotion to moisturize; super dry hands will invite the deadlift to just tear your hand up.
Why would you let that happen if you can do some homework ahead of time and just take care of your body?
Should I grip the bar a specific way?
If you are like most lifters, you will have probably researched a way to alleviate your hand pain from deadlifts.
You may have come across certain articles that tell you to not grip so deep or to twist your hand in a certain way to prevent calluses.
Here is my response to those suggestions - if you were a climber on a side of a mountain, would you be focused on how to grip the rock and to be efficient at it?
It would help but your main goal is to get to the top without losing your grip.
How and what you do becomes blurred out.
The same thing applies to deadlifting.
If you want to try out new techniques, why not? But be aware that it will make a minor if any, difference. You will still need to grip the barbell and still need to train your grip.
It is pretty astounding the amount of mental gymnastics newer lifters go through in order to rationalize having a bad grip.
What is probably even more shocking is that some advanced lifters go through the same thing.
For some people, deadlifts are their kryptonite.
For others, they live for deadlifts.
So, what are you doing to do about it if you suck at deadlifting?
Are you going to whine and stop deadlifting?
Or are you going to figure out a solution and try something else so that you can continue to make progress in the gym?
Before the internet age, did you know how our fore-fathers got big, jacked and yolked?
They experimented and they continued to train hard.
What did not work, they stopped doing.
And if something did work, they continued to do that.
Strength training does not need to be complicated.
Losing grip on your deadlifts
If you are losing grip on your deadlifts and your hands are hurting, I do not see anything wrong.
If you are strength training and doing your working sets, you are getting stronger.
This is actually a good thing.
Lifters just need to be patient and continue following their program.
If you find yourself unable to sustain progress, look at your lifestyle choices and programming.
If you are living a perfect life, then you just need to give your body time to adapt and recover from your deadlift training.
You made it! Your hands will hurt from the deadlift but that is okay.
When have you gone into the gym thinking that you will breeze through a workout?
You expect to get hammered and to face your inner demons.
So, be mindful that you will be training a lot of other secondary muscles that will assist you in getting a big pull.