Training

How To Get A Grip On Your Deadlifts Forever

July 16th 2019

Do you have a grip problem when doing your working sets for your deadlift? In the past, I ran into so many walls when it comes to strengthening my deadlift. Because I was very concentrated on improving my grip, I made sure that I tried to do double overhand grip until… well, all the time. So, when I was running Starting Strength, I would try to continue doing my double overhand grip even though my back and hamstrings were not tried. You can only begin to imagine the frustration I created for myself.

So, I then thought it was the program’s fault and tried to make a new program to help train my deadlift (and grip) in a less taxing way. It was still challenging but no way near the level of linear progression. And for the next several months, I didn’t really increase in weight done for my deadlift working sets. 

In fact, for the next several years, I really did not know what I was doing. I was just throwing wet paint on the wall and seeing if it will stick. I tried a lot of different things, thinking that something was wrong with the program. In reality, all I was doing was continuing to do linear progression and then taking a long deload when I felt really taxed. 

So, I know from experience how painful and irritating it is to not increase your grip strength. One of the worst feelings in the gym is when I miss a deadlift because I am losing my grip. So, let us go over several ways we can stop losing your grip on your deadlifts.

How To Stop Losing Grip On Your Deadlifts

  • Keep training double overhand
  • Ditch the straps
  • Keep on training your grip
  • Be patient

 

Keep training double overhand

Old habits die hard… haha. I am still training double overhand grip for a majority of my sets. However, if I am unable to continue holding onto the bar with a double overhand grip, I will use a hook grip. 

I am not so stubborn in that I will not pivot and adapt to my situation. But nevertheless, I will try my hardest to make sure I get as much practice with my double overhand grip.

A special note about learning new grips

If you are deadlifting heavy, you will probably need to learn another grip style. Two very common choices are mixed grip and hook grip - both of which are viable in powerlifting competitions. In Strongman competitions, straps are allowed so many Strongman athletes just train with straps for their training cycles. They have enough alternative exercises to hammer their forearms so skipping out on deadlift forearm training is not the end of the world.

A special note about programming

It is probably not said enough but making sure you have an appropriate level of programming will be optimal for your long term progress. In the short term, anybody can make up a program to do for a few weeks. 

The challenge is to continue that progress for years and decades. This is something a lot of people do not want to sacrifice for. A lot of lifters see the commitment, sacrifice and pain needed to continue progressing and just call it quits early on. It really depends on what you want to do and how hard you want to train.

Ditch the straps

If you are a beginner or intermediate lifter, chances are you have seen your favorite athletes online using straps. Depending on your goals and ambitions, using straps is definitely something to consider. Let me put it this way, you will train your grip more if you do not use your straps.

Using straps is a crutch, especially if you are new to lifting. If you are not competing or if you are an elite lifter, you probably do not care and can do whatever you want. But if you are trying to build your strength, stay patient to win the war. 

Keep on training your grip

This point is so important that it needs to be mentioned a second time. If you want a stronger grip, you should train your grip. If you want a stronger deadlift, the most practical exercise you can do is to practice more double overhand deadlifts. But it does not always have to be deadlifts.

You can do farmer’s walks, pullups, rows, or even climbing. Training your forearm or grip does not mean you need to go do deadlifts. You get the best return for your time if you do deadlifts but the choice is up to you.

Be patient

Getting stronger takes time. And for the small muscles in your upper extremities, you will need to be patient. Because your forearms are not as big as your legs, it will take more time for them to recover and adapt.

So, in the meantime, do not stress about it. There is nothing more you can do. You already provided enough stimulus so that your forearms are fatigued. You just need to relax and let your body continue the healing process.

Is it bad if your deadlift grip fails?

Definitely not. It just means that your hands are not strong enough to grip the bar. What you decide to do next is probably even more important than your failed set. Are you going to give up or are you going to plan your next move in the gym?

I have already given you several strategies in order to build up a strong grip and never fail another deadlift due to a grip issue. 

Conclusion

For the beginner or intermediate lifter, failing your grip can be a devastating blow to the ego. For many, it is probably one of your first failures in the gym. You thought you were unstoppable and then you are standing over the top of your failed deadlift, with head, hot hands, and a defeated expression.

Calm down and breathe. It is not the end of the world but you do need to acknowledge that this will be an area of training that you may need to focus more time on.

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