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Overhand, Hooked, and Mixed – What’s the Best Deadlift Grip?

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

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You step up to the bar, adjust your position, take a deep inhale, brace your core, and pull—but halfway up the rep, your grip gives out. Does this sound familiar? Your grip technique can significantly impact your deadlift progression for better or for worse. 

With the best deadlift grip, you’ll lift more weight, feel more comfortable, and become stronger. Let’s look at some of the most common deadlift grips, how to execute them, and how to decide which technique is correct for you.

best deadlift grips
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How Should You Grip the Deadlift Bar? Everything You Need to Know

best deadlift grip for new lifters
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It’s possible to optimize every part of a lift, from the starting position to the lockout. Although it may seem trivial, your grip type can significantly impact your deadlift. Novice and veteran lifters alike can plateau due to weak grip strength and improper technique. 

Varying your grip can also help prevent injuries, like biceps tears, and reduce muscle imbalances

You can try different grip styles throughout your set to determine what works for you and doesn’t. For example, you might try a new grip with your warm-up sets to get an idea of how they feel. Once you’re comfortable with the grip, you can use it during your working sets.

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Overhand Deadlift Grip

The overhand grip is the most common grip and intuitive way to perform a deadlift. The overhand deadlift grip requires you to hold the barbell with the palms facing the body (pronated) and your thumbs opposite the other fingers. 

The technique is natural, symmetrical, and comfortable. What’s the downside of the overhand deadlift grip? 
It’s one of the weaker grips and may prevent you from lifting max loads. The overhand deadlift grip position is ideal for beginners and warm-ups, but you’ll need to change your technique after you exit the novice stage.

How to Perform

Set the barbell on the ground in front of you. Step up to the bar with your feet shoulder-width apart. Stop when the bar is just over the middle of your foot.
Take a deep breath and lean forward to grip the bar. Maintain a comfortable distance between each hand; you might like shoulder-width apart or a bit wider. Wrap your hand around the bar to secure your grip.

Benefits of the Overhand Deadlift Grip

  • Straightforward, natural, and intuitive. It’s how you usually want to lift stuff.
  • Symmetrical for the arms and shoulders.
  • Reduces muscle imbalances compared to other grip techniques.

Deadlift Hook Grip

The hook grip might look similar to the double overhand grip, but it’s much more powerful. This technique requires you to stick your thumb under the index or middle finger. The thumb acts like a wedge that helps prevent the bar from rolling out of your hand. 

The hook grip can quickly increase your maximum load by 20% or more, ensuring your grip strength matches the rest of your body. It’s also symmetrical for the arms and shoulders, preventing muscle imbalances.

best deadlift grip hook technique.
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How to Perform

Step up to the bar in the same fashion you would go for a double overhand grip. Place your thumb between the barbell and your fingertips instead of on the outside of the palm. Your thumb should feel like a wedge that secures the bar in place. 

The barbell shouldn’t roll, but the hook technique might initially be uncomfortable or painful. Do not proceed if the pain is unbearable. Your thumb should get used to the sensation over time, but it’s best to start with lighter weights and work your way up.

Benefits

  • Provides better strength than the standard overhand grip.
  • Symmetrical for the arms and shoulders.
  • Reduces muscle imbalances compared to other grip methods.

Mixed Grip

The mixed grip is another typical progression from the overhand grip once grip strength plateaus. The mixed grip prevents the barbell’s rotation by turning one palm away from you (supinating). The technique can significantly increase your maximum load, like the hook grip. 

The mixed grip deadlift is ideal for lifters who want to increase their loads but experience pain during the hook grip. 

Unfortunately, the mixed grip is unsymmetrical as one hand is supinated and one is pronated. This deadlift grip style affects the positions of the shoulder and shoulder blade. That said, the unsymmetrical load doesn’t seem to cause issues, even for long-term lifters.

How to Perform

Step up to the barbell as usual. Your dominant hand position will use the overhand technique with the palm facing toward you. Your left palm will wrap around the opposite way, with the palm facing away from you. Adjust your grip position inward or outward if you notice discomfort in the arm or shoulder.

Benefits

  • Much stronger grip than the double overhand technique.
  • Doesn’t cause pain or injury to the skin compared to the hook grip. 
  • Easy to perform. 
  • Less grip fatigue.
  • Good for Sumo Grip.

Avoid These Grip Issues

Although perfecting your choice of grip can improve your deadlift, a few mistakes can halt your progress or make it difficult to lift. Here are a few grip issues and errors to avoid the next time you pull heavy.

Sweaty Palms

Sweaty palms can significantly impact your ability to deadlift heavy weights. Sweat builds up while you’re training and can make your hands too slippery to maintain proper grip strength. 

Instead of struggling with the barbell like a wet fish, dry off your palms between each set and incorporate grip accessories. Deadlift straps will act as extra support, helping you finish the set. Weight-lifting chalk before each set can dry off your palms and give you enough traction to maintain a proper grip.

how to use the best deadlift grip
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Calluses

Blisters, calluses, and cuts on the palms can get in the way when you’re lifting heavy weights. One way to avoid this is to place the barbell right below the base of your fingertips. This way, the skin most susceptible to calluses is firm against the bar and not pinched.

Alternatively, you can use weight-lifting gloves and straps to protect your hands during heavy lifts. Weight-lifting gloves may impact your grip strength depending on your experience and the material. 

Your Grips too Wide

Too wide of a grip can make the deadlift more challenging, as you must pull the weight a longer distance. The correct width will help you engage your lats, reduce the range of motion, and increase grip strength. Try placing your palms thumb distance away from your shin and grip the rough knurling on the bar if possible. 

Which Grip is Right For You?

The different deadlift grips have advantages, disadvantages, and best-use cases. Some techniques are better optimized for different strength sports and variations, while others can suit general lifting. So, how do you determine which type of grip fits your goals? 

Use the Hook Grip for Olympic Lifts

The hook grip is necessary for Olympic lifters, like the snatch or the clean and jerk. The hooking technique is needed for maximal loads, as it prevents the barbell from spinning in the palms and coming loose during these heavy movements. 

Powerlifting Grip Can Vary

Powerlifters use both mixed or hook grips, depending on their preference. The mixed grip is a common choice for lifters who experience discomfort with the hook grip. The hook grip can make an excellent choice, as it translates well into Olympic and powerlifting competition environments. That said, ensure you’re training with the technique you plan to use for competition.

Go With Personal Preference for General Lifts

You can pick any grip you like if you’re not entering an Olympic or powerlifting meet anytime soon. Most beginner deadlifts will use the overhand grip for as long as possible and switch to a mixed grip. Otherwise, you can switch to a hook grip if you find it more comfortable. 
It’s best to stick with a technique to learn how it suits your body and performance. That said, you can play around with different styles during warm-ups to figure out what you prefer. Once you land on one, stick to it to perfect your technique.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is the Mixed Grip Better for Deadlifts?

The mixed grip can be better than the double overhand grip once your progression starts to plateau. The mixed grip is much better, as it prevents the barbell from rolling out of your hand, unlike the overhand grip. Most beginners start with the double overhand grip and move onto the mixed grip once their grip strength wanes.

What is the Hardest Deadlift Grip?

Depending on who you ask, the most brutal deadlift grip might be the hook technique. Many lifters find the wedge-thumb placement to be painful and uncomfortable. Otherwise, the overhand grip is challenging, as it’s the weakest grip technique available.

Does Mixed Grip Cause Muscle Imbalances?

One precaution of the mixed grip is that it might cause muscle imbalances, but this depends on the lifter. Over time the asymmetry can make one arm stronger than the other, affecting your lifts and physique. One piece of advice is to switch palms between each rep, but this can lead to an unoptimized technique and an awkward feeling when lifting. 

Our Top Pick
CAP Barbell - The Beast
Based on our testing, this is the best budget barbell for beginners. For less than 150$, you get a good, durable barbel made of Japanese stell with black matte finish. Frankly, it offers great value for money. It's also backed with an 1 year warranty.
About

Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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