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The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
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H1N1 Offline
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Post: #26
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
(04-15-2015 07:38 AM)StrikeBack Wrote:  
(04-15-2015 04:06 AM)H1N1 Wrote:  
(04-14-2015 05:48 PM)Fortis Wrote:  What are some good resources on learning the Hook grip properly? I used to do supine one hand and pronated other hand but I don't want to cause muscle imbalances. My dead lift is stalling at 2x because I've been doing double overhead grip instead of the mixed grip.

Thanks man

Personal opinion: get straps, they cost about $7 for a pair, and continue to lift double overhand. The hook grip is a pretty technical grip, that hurts like hell, and requires a significant time investment to master (Assuming you have no competitive goals as a strength athlete). If you do want to compete in powerlifting, then it is skill training and you should absolutely do it. If you just want to keep building a big, strong back, get straps and keep pushing on.

I intend to cover the hook grip in details very soon.

I personally introduced the hook grip to my powerlifting club (and a few other clubs around Australia). I learned it in person from the best and most famous hook-grip deadlifter of all: Brad Gillingham (and his protége, when they were down here for a competition). It takes an average of 2-6 weeks to convert to the hook grip (like every tip I'm posting in this thread) although novices-intermediates tend to take just 2-3 weeks (the heavier you're already lifting, the harder it is to switch) and the longest case was a guy who already pulled over 4xBW. Most people learn it wrong, which is why their thumbs hurt like a bitch.

I have very soft fingers and thumbs (growing up playing classical piano). My fingers and thumbs can bend the other way by a lot. It took me 4 weeks. I have coached small girls (52kg - 63kg weight classes i.e 115lb - 137lb) to hook grip, and they're now pulling over 220lb for reps with it.

There's nothing particularly wrong with straps if you're not a powerlifter, but since learning the hook grip is relatively easy, I can't see a reason why not. In fact, using straps is an important part of training the deadlift if you're a hook gripper, due to certain inherent weaknesses of the grip.

Anyway, I'll cover this in a lot of details next time.

Definitely look forward to learning about that then. I struggled with it for a while before I left it alone, but didn't have the opportunity to learn from a good source. Fortis, I'd take Strikeback's opinion on this over mine, without any hesitation.
04-15-2015 07:46 AM
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Post: #27
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
Why your back rounds in the deadlift

If your deadlift resembles a cat taking a shit, this post is for you.

Without getting too deep into biomechanical analysis, here are the reasons why your back rounds, from the most common / most likely, to the least / unexpected.

1. You think deadlift is a back exercise

This is probably the first thing you're told when taking up lifting, be it for general fitness, bodybuilding or powerlifting. That is not wrong, but it often causes people to lift with just their back. The intention of their movement is not good, if you want back strength AND longevity. They then accept that (or get told that) it is normal for the back to round a lot under heavy load. You hear this not just from recreational lifters but from experienced powerlifters as well.

In powerlifting's rule book, there is nothing said about the back in the deadlift. It just says, pick the bar up off the floor and stand erect with it (plus some other stuff about locking your shoulders and knees). Which is why you see a variety of deadlift techniques in competition. Each technique emphasizes a certain movement intention, and they're not always about the back leading everything. Of course people know the sumo is less back and more legs and hips, but there are conventional deadlifters who don't use that much back either.

I learned about that through two different and very strong conventional deadlifters. One is a guy at my club who used to hold the WR deadlift with an over 4xBW pull. I would look on with amazement that his back never rounds when he pulls 3.5xBW for reps, and get even more amazed when watching him train back, because his back strength is definitely less than mine. He hit the weight off the floor with such force that you hear the bar loudly slam into the plates hard before the whole lot leaves the ground. I asked him what muscles he felt at that moment. His response: abs, quads and low back, in that order. The other was a multi-times WR holder in the IPF, heavyweight class. He used to kill it in squat and bench, but get murdered by the competition in the deadlift. He talked in a seminar about his breakthrough with the deadlift one day, after chatting with an old coach. What he switched to was "set the back tight, and leg-press the ground away."

This movement intention - of using abs and quads to pop the bar off the floor (and later to thrust the glutes through to lockout - is the foundation of the setup and lift-off techniques I explained in previous posts. Don't take it wrong, your back will work plenty hard, but it is not the only muscle group that does. My back gets plenty of stimulation, but it never rounds with any weight, including third attempts at competitions. It is not really because I have a strong back (relatively I have much stronger quads and hips) but because the weight that would cause my back to round would be too much for my abs and quads to get off the floor anyway.

Remember, like every tip, it will take 3-6 weeks before you get used to using your abs and quads to lift the bar off the floor, and it might move slowly at first.

2. There is too much slack in your arms, shoulders and upper back

The bulk of my elaborate setup is to eliminate the slack in your arms, shoulders and upper back, the closest points of contact with the bar. Slack means leaking power, and if there's slack anywhere, the heavy bar will correct that for you by rounding the hell out of your upper back.

The deadlift is not just a lower body exercise, and it's often limited by the weaker upper back muscles, so make sure you lock them tight before lifting.

3. You yank on the bar with your arms

This is directly related to #2. Some people yank hard on the bar with their arms from a bent position, which immediately causes the back to round once the bar leaves the floor. Do you start tug of war or pull a car by yanking on the rope with your arms? This lovely technique also has the potential bonus of a bicep tear.

The good old "grip dip and rip" technique is a variation of this.

4. You don't know how to brace your abs

This is the biggest cause of low back rounding. Most people do not know how to brace abs. Most newbies who start with Starting Strength and the likes get told that their abs get worked plenty via the compound lifts like squat and deadlift. That is a big load of shit. I've tested countless lifters with low back rounding issues, including some reasonably strong ones, and they all fail my abs exercises (e.g hollow body position). They're both weak and inactive there.

Learn diaphragmatic breathing, tighten your abs and low back down and out 360 degrees, pushing into the belt. Brace it hard like you're going to take a punch. Explode off the ground from the abs, not low back.

Train your abs hard with exercises like ab wheel rollouts, hollow body position etc.

5. You think wearing a belt will stop your back from rounding, but don't know how to wear it

You may be wearing the wrong belt. Some people wear the weightlifting belt (thick at the back, thin at the front) to deadlift. That doesn't do shit for your back. The powerlifting belt (which is also good for bodybuilding) has the same thickness and width all the way around. That is for your abs and low back to brace against, 360 degree.

You wear a belt to keep your pants up, not to protect your back. In other words, the belt is too loose. It should feel like a car tyre jammed around your mid-section, and you have to brace hard just to get some air in the abs.

6. You learn a back dominant technique without knowing that it is so

e.g you learn it from Starting Strength.

If you lift using mostly your back, then of course it gets worked too hard and rounds, because nothing else is helping.

7. You don't know how to lock your lats

Half have no idea how to lock the lats or feel the lats at all. The other half think they're locking their lats by pulling the shoulder blades back tight, like they're benching, squatting, doing lat pulldowns, rows etc. That is wrong. The muscles that keep the shoulder blades back and tight are too small and weak to play with the deadlift. By setting up like that, you are introducing a lot of slack in the upper back area unknowingly, and as soon as the bar leaves the ground, it will correct your mistake by rounding your back.

The correct lat locking position is shoulder blades down, and neutral (not back). It is very similar to the lat spread in bodybuilding. That is where the lats are strongest to statically hold the weight.

Easiest way to feel this is to deadlift a light weight (135lb will do for an average guy), bend over in the half way position in a deadlift, and stay there for time. Try pulling your shoulder blades back and see how long you last (not long). Now stay there and let your shoulder blades and lats settle into their strongest positions, while keeping your shoulders in the sockets and down tight.

8. You think your back rounds because it is weak

Those are the people who work tirelessly to strengthen their back (not a bad thing) because they believe it is weak which causes rounding. Yet whenever they deadlift, it rounds anyway. More back training then! The madness never stops.

In lifting (or movement in general), typically what you see failing is often actually the last thing that fails, because a whole lot of other stuff have already failed before that. Often that last failing part is in fact the strongest.

Many cat-backers actually have very strong back, but very weak or inactive abs, quads and glutes in the movement. Since none of the other muscle groups wants to help out, the poor back has to do it all and fails.

9. Your grip is too wide

The wider your grip is, the more taxing on the upper back the lift is. That is why a snatch grip deadlift is so much harder and makes a great back exercise.

We've established the idea here that your hands must be like hooks and arms like ropes. Ropes hang straight down, not diagonally. Make sure your arms are going straight down under your shoulder joints, and elbows are locked (not hyperextended). Feet and legs should be directly under the hip joints (in case of conventional deadlift), arms just outside the legs, even slightly rubbing on them during the movement.

Keep the grip width tight to give your back a better fighting chance.

10. You put the bar down wrong

You have a solid setup, and the first rep was pretty good with back strong and straight. Then everything turns to shit and you're doing a cat back. Why? You keep dropping your chest hard when lowering the bar, and/or dropping the weight like a stone. Maybe it's because you want to be a hardcore brah, maybe some idiot coached you that you need to conserve energy for the next rep, or to make it more like the first rep for strength off the floor.

Dropping the bar like that is throwing away all the tension and tightness you've carefully built before the first rep. It also puts the bar slightly in front of you, and gets worse every subsequent rep.

Simple solution: bring your butt down first, while looking up or forward at whatever spot you choose for the entire set, including when you put the bar down. Don't worry, the floor will always be there, you don't need to look down to find it.

Bring that bar down with control.

11. You breathe into your chest at the bottom

You're under stress and fatigue, so you breathe into your chest instead of abs at the bottom, which causes your shoulders to rise out of the sockets, loosening up all the tension and tightness you've been building.

12. You let the bar swing away from your shins

This is either a setup problem or a bar path problem. In the former, you have too much of your body in front of the bar. Not good, your shoulders (the whole joint, not just the anterior shoulders) should be directly above the bar. In the latter, you are pulling in the wrong path. With a heavy weight, it is straight up off the floor, dragged up the shins then immediately pulled slightly backwards (body leaning back for balance).

13. You overarch your back

You get told to arch your back hard to protect it. You do so, and immediately do a cat back when the bar leaves the ground, inverting the arch. Incredibly frustrating!

This is a very common problem for more flexible guys and especially girls. An overly arched back is in a weak position and also deactivates the abs and glutes.

Stand up, brace your abs and squeeze your glutes. Feel the position of your back now? That's a neutral spine. Keep it like that when you deadlift.

Note 1: you can lift a lot of weight, including WRs with a back dominant style, but people who are worried about rounding their backs are not among those.

Note 2: there is a powerlifting specific style called the round back deadlift, where the lifter deliberately sets up with a round T-spine from the start. That is to keep the hip closer to the bar for better leverage, and amplifies abs and quads involvement. That is not the same as someone starting with a straight back then becomes a cat taking a shit half way up. Do not attempt to learn this technique without a coach who actually knows it well.

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(This post was last modified: 04-17-2015 09:36 AM by StrikeBack.)
04-17-2015 09:34 AM
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Wreckingball Offline
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Post: #28
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
^this could be ROK post. And a good one.
04-17-2015 09:39 AM
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Post: #29
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
This is a fab thread Strikeback.

I've lost count of the number of guys whose Dl technique has actually made me wince and look away as they lift.
04-17-2015 11:18 AM
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Post: #30
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
(04-17-2015 11:18 AM)CrashBangWallop Wrote:  This is a fab thread Strikeback.

I've lost count of the number of guys whose Dl technique has actually made me wince and look away as they lift.

Yeah, I'm amazed more guys don't get hurt doing it given the bad form I've seen.

I'm on record here opposing the deadlift because I think the risk/reward ratio is a bad one, but if a guy insists on doing it he needs to do it right, otherwise his risk of injury eventually is very high.

Don't be this guy




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04-17-2015 03:16 PM
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Fortis Online
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Post: #31
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
Hey Strike and H1N1,

I will grab a pair of straps. Question about straps, though. Someone told me that using straps allow you to lift heavier than your grip would naturally allow which can be a bad thing. Is this true or just broscience?

Thanks,

Fortis

I will be checking my PMs weekly, so you can catch me there. I will not be posting.
04-17-2015 03:31 PM
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H1N1 Offline
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Post: #32
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
(04-17-2015 03:31 PM)Fortis Wrote:  Hey Strike and H1N1,

I will grab a pair of straps. Question about straps, though. Someone told me that using straps allow you to lift heavier than your grip would naturally allow which can be a bad thing. Is this true or just broscience?

Thanks,

Fortis

My own view, as with all these threads, is that it depends on your goals. I use the deadlift to build my back/glutes/hamstrings, not to train my grip. I do separate grip work for that. Since I am not a competitive lifter, my goal is to use the lift to build the posterior chain and increase the amount of weight those muscles can handle (and to build them).

If grip is the limiting factor, then the deadlift becomes primarily a grip exercise. Given the size of the muscles involved, that seems incredibly inefficient to me, from a non-competitive lifters point of view.

For the record, Strikeback and Crashbangwallop (and probably many others) are much more accomplished in strength training than I am. My training is and always has been extremely hybrid in nature, I don't have anything like their depth of experience.
04-17-2015 05:14 PM
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StrikeBack Offline
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Post: #33
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
Thanks fellas!

(04-17-2015 11:18 AM)CrashBangWallop Wrote:  This is a fab thread Strikeback.

I've lost count of the number of guys whose Dl technique has actually made me wince and look away as they lift.

Last night I had my last heavy deadlift training session before competition. As I was warming up, this cat backer asked me to watch his set and give him a few tips. I told him I'll do it after I finish my work sets, as otherwise I'd be too unsettled and mentally scarred to lift, from watching him. Shudder

MrXY, I see that, and raise you this:





Was at our national competition a few years back. He has high blood pressure though. National record for the 120kg Master 2 (<60, he was 58 I think) category. A year later he pulled a World Record with 305 or 310kg, and did not pass out!

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(This post was last modified: 04-17-2015 09:28 PM by StrikeBack.)
04-17-2015 09:24 PM
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StrikeBack Offline
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Post: #34
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
(04-17-2015 03:31 PM)Fortis Wrote:  Hey Strike and H1N1,

I will grab a pair of straps. Question about straps, though. Someone told me that using straps allow you to lift heavier than your grip would naturally allow which can be a bad thing. Is this true or just broscience?

Thanks,

Fortis

That is kind of true, but not the whole picture. You often hear of 2 extremes from fellow recreational lifters: one uses straps for everything and the other says straps are for pussies. They're all missing the simple fact that straps are tools, and tools have their uses in certain contexts.

There are 3 popular strength sports: strongman, weightlifting and powerlifting. What is one thing those athletes have in common in their gym bags? A pair of lifting straps. Strongman competitors use it for their version of the deadlift. Weightlifters probably use straps the most because their grips get work really hard in nearly every exercise. Powerlifters use straps the least mainly because they don't pull with that much volume, and earlier on, most have the same view as the "straps are for pussies" crowd until they (if ever) get much stronger and start to pull bigger weights with more frequency and volume. They then start to realise that straps are used by some of the greatest deadlifters of all times.

My view is this: you should have straps in your gym bag and use it in your training with certain rules.

1. Never use straps on anything you cannot lift with your bare grips, when fresh.
2. Only use straps to add extra volume to your training session, after your grips already got too beat up from heavy lifting.
3. Use them in exceptional cases when for example you're travelling and training somewhere which doesn't allow the use of chalk.
4. Always try to get your raw grips stronger, so you have to use straps less and less.

Your raw grip strength (with chalk for friction) naturally acts as an indicator of what your body can handle. When your grip fails, it is a form of built-in safety buffer, so your body doesn't try to lift to the very breaking limit. This is not bro-science. Try squeezing your hands when you're really fatigued vs when you're fresh.

Rule #1 is therefore the most important, and pretty much the only thing you need to remember. The rest are implied by this rule.

I sometimes use straps in the following scenarios:

- High volume deadlift sessions. I used to train Sheiko, which sometimes has a session like this: a shitload of deadlift, bench, another shitload of deadlift (Russian programs are fun). In the 2nd deadlift round, I'd use straps.
- High reps deadlift variations: I might use straps for high reps stiff-legged deadlift or Romanian deadlift.
- Kroc Rows (high rep DB rows) - as I often do this after deadlift, and my hands would be already fried.

As I use hook grips, my hands don't really have any calluses (except the sides of the thumbs) so I don't need straps to prevent calluses.

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04-17-2015 09:49 PM
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Post: #35
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
Strikeback, what's your test using the hollow body position? I can hold a fairly aggressive hollow body hold and do rocks and side rocks, but I'm not sure what you would consider a progression that showed good core strength.
04-19-2015 10:34 AM
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StrikeBack Offline
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Post: #36
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
I look for two things with the hollow body: the awareness of being in the position by switching on the abs, and the ability to hold there for time. I want to see about 60s hold with someone who can deadlift 2xBW+. The problematic people who fail my test would have no idea how to hold it or fail after 10-ish seconds despite being strong enough to deadlift 2xBW+, sometimes more.

The reason I pick it is because with the hollow body, you know instantly that your abs have failed to activate or failed in strength, as the low back lifts off the ground. Other abs exercises, while important, are not as obvious.

Once they have the awareness and a decent ability to hold for time, I start to look for other stuff like ab wheel rollouts, RKC planks, superman pushups etc.

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04-20-2015 12:12 AM
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Post: #37
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
I did about 235 on sunday with the adjustment being a closer grip and my shoulder more forward. My lower back did not need to do as much and so far 2 days afterwards its no super soar either when they tend to be sorest. When I set up at first, my legs are stifflegged and my back is parallel with the floor. I than drop the hips down so my back forms a 45" and lift from there.
04-21-2015 05:51 PM
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Post: #38
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
Busy preparing for an upcoming powerlifting comp this weekend, and also finishing off a major work project.

Two posts coming up soon for this clinic:

1. Hook grip
2. Tips for lifters with short arms

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04-23-2015 08:34 AM
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Post: #39
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
I'd love to do a high volume deadlifting routine, the only problem is that then I'd have to buy all new jackets tailored to fit my enormous traps Big Grin

Still though, it would be nice to have a place I could actually drop the weights.
04-24-2015 08:00 AM
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Post: #40
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
My max is 505. I've done deadlift specific training for extended periods of time.

RE: straps - I can't imagine many forum readers are really at the point where straps are essential. I say push as far as you can with your grip and then push more each time. Realize you're training your grip as well.

50 lbs db in each hand, walk 100M, rinse repeat x 5 x 3 days per week and you'll be fine.
04-24-2015 08:54 AM
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Post: #41
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
RE: hook grip -

I've never been taught that for DL. I use it for cleans and snatches but thats because the bar needs to rotate in your hands.

I've never heard a claim that hook grip is stronger though, or essential for DL usage.
04-24-2015 08:59 AM
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Post: #42
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
At my powerlifting meet today, I promised some of my mates (one holds an open WR deadlift, and uses the hook grip) that the hook grip master race shall dominate the world, and so here's the hook grip post as promised.

If you just want to use straps, you don't want to read all this shit anyway. Personally, even outside of powerlifting, I hate using straps due to having to take all that time to set up. I'm just lazy.

What is the hook grip?

It's a grip mostly known in weightlifting, as that's how you grip the bar in the clean and the snatch i.e both of their competition lifts. A quick Google image will show you what it's like. Essentially you have the thumb against the bar, and the other four fingers holding the thumb in while hooking around the bar.

What I'm showing you here is the hook grip used in deadlifting. This is not necessarily how you use it in weightlifting, as there might be subtle differences. I learned the hook grip in person from Brad Gillingham, a hall of fame IPF deadlifter, and I don't do weightlifting, so keep that in mind.

The different grips in deadlift

There are 3 raw (i.e no strap or other grip assisting equipment) grips you can use to deadlift:

- Double overhand: for each grip, it's 4 fingers on one side of the bar vs 1 thumb on the other side i.e 8 fingers vs 2 thumbs overall. Which is why this is the weakest grip.
- Mixed grip: most popular grip when the weight gets heavy (in powerlifting or otherwise), one overhand, one underhand. You end up with 4 fingers and 1 thumb on one side of the bar, vs 4 fingers and 1 thumb on the other side.
- Hook grip

The problems with the mixed grip

Most people are told to use the mixed grip at some point when they begin to deadlift a half decent weight that a normal double overhand grip cannot handle. The mixed grip is very strong and is frequently seen in WR deadlifts. However, this is an asymmetrical grip and can cause many issues.

The most obvious of all is imbalance in muscle development. You will end up with a slightly stronger and bigger side of the body. Switching the mixed grips (pronated left, supinated right -> supinated left, pronated right) isn't ideal as often you'll find that you do one flavour of mixed grip better than the other anyway.

The less obvious one but most important reason why I do not recommend the mixed grip is safety. I first realised this after my back/hip injury, while getting scans done at a sport medical center. My doctor, knowing that I deadlift and having treated many lifters, straight up asked if I used a mixed grip with supinated left and pronated right, which was correct. He then pointed at the difference in one side of my back/hip vs the other in the scans and said he sees that all the time in lifters. He recommended me to use either the double overhand or straps, but obviously neither would work for me as a powerlifter.

That story doesn't convince anyone, so I often get people to do a simple exercise. Take a neutral stance, reach forward as far as possible with your straight arms. What do you find yourself automatically doing? Pronation of both hands. Why? Because your arms extend the longest that way. Now try supination of both. Clearly you would have a reduced reach. Now, with one pronated, one supinated, you will have one reaching slightly less than the other. What do you think that will do to your back and discs? Will you stand on slightly raised ground under one foot vs the other and deadlift a lot of weights? Thought so.

If you want a visual of this safety issue, watch a mixed grip lifter directly from the front when the weight gets heavy enough (around 5RM and above). You will see a clear lean / twist on one side of the body as the bar leaves the ground. Not great for longevity.

But but but.... plenty of very strong, even WR holders lift with a mixed grip? Yes, that is true, because it is a strong, very easy to learn grip, but powerlifters do not do their sport to be safe. They use whatever to lift more weights in competition.

The last, not super common but very scary issue of a mixed grip is a potential bicep tear on the supinated arm. This actually is a very popular reason why powerlifters would switch to the hook grip.

Why hook grip then?

I first tried the hook grip as I started lifting again post back/hip injury rehab entirely for safety reasons, but the more I used it the more awesome I found it.

Here's the list:

* Safety and symmetry of double overhand

* Equal strength to the mixed grip - it's rare and only just rising in popularity, but some of the recent WRs and top 3 deadlifts have been done with the hook grip. Personally hook grip is way stronger for me.

* Longer arm lever - due to the bar hanging further down your fingers, and the reason above with the pronation of both hands: excellent for short armed lifters (why I stick with the hook grip even in competition, when safety isn't my main concern, because I have short arms)

* Vastly reduced hand calluses - you basically exchange hardly noticeable thumb calluses for all those you find in your palms at the bases of your fingers and around the finger knuckles. I have none of the big calluses you find on a typical powerlifter, in fact I hardly have any at all. This might be important for you, aesthetically (or for girls I train), but for me as a competing powerlifter, it means I have zero chance of a ripped callus that will instantly ruin my training session or comp meet.

* Learn how to initiate the deadlift from your lower body instead of yanking with the arms - see previous post on why you round your back; you can't yank with the hook grip because it's impossible. You automatically treat your arms like taut ropes hooking onto the bar, because that's what they do in the hook grip, literally.

* Way easier to activate your lats and engage them symmetrically - just like the double overhand. Good for both strength and muscular development.

The list begs the question:

If it's so awesome, why so few people use it?

Simply because it's not a straight forward grip and hardly anyone knows how to coach or learn it. I'll run through the usual issues and give you the solutions.

1. My hands are too small / my fingers and thumbs are too soft

Half of the time, when I said "hook grip", I'd hear something about it only works for Brad Gillingham because he's 6'5", built like Mr Incredibles with gigantic bitch-slap hands. It can't work for anyone else with smaller hands...right.

There are some people whose hands and fingers are way too small to hook grip, actually. However, those are very rare. To give you an idea, one of my mates is a 5'4" shorty in the 145lb class and hook-grips the open WR deadlift (620lb). I've trained numerous girls to hook grip, most recent one being a 115lb class skinny tall girl who pulled 242lb. My thumbs are so soft that they can bend 90 degrees, my fingers are equally soft, and I can hook grip well over 3xBW.

In other words, yes you can do it, unless you're a midget.

2. It takes too long to adapt!

It takes about 2-6 weeks in my experience to cut over. Took me 4 weeks. 6 weeks for a WR holder. 2 weeks for newbies.

I feel that setting a few weeks aside to learn a safer better grip is a wise investment of time. Most people are not very patient at all and just want it now, which is why a few weeks later they are still exactly where they were.

3. My thumbs feel like they're gonna get dislocated!

By far this is the most common complaint. It's because you're overgripping your thumbs.

Wrong:

http://crossfitgreatneck.com/wp-content/...d-Grip.jpg

(note: it might be correct for weightlifting, I wouldn't know, but definitely horrible for deadlifting)

Right:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/co...okgrip.jpg

Just grip the first knuckle of your thumb, not more. Hook the little finger and the ring finger around the bar. The dislocated feeling comes from people trying to wrap as many fingers as they can around the thumb.

4. My thumbs burn!

Yes they will, until calluses are formed, not unlike the other two grips (hence the few weeks of adaptation). If you're switching over, start with your warmups only, or at the start of a new training cycle when you're going to be lifting lighter anyway. Use medical tapes (2 layers around the thumbs will do) to help adaptation. After a while, you will not need medical tapes anymore, and in fact the tapes make it worse. I accidentally found out when forgetting to tape my thumbs one day, and realising that they're handling more than fine.

My first session trying to rack pull 300lb, I felt like someone just jabbed my thumbs with a burning cigarette and had to drop the bar. 2 weeks later I was repping out 390lb.

I often start newbies straight with the hook grip and they adapt instantly.

5. My thumbs feel like they're going to explode!

You feel a huge pressure built up in your thumbs. I felt it when I first tried too. I asked Brad Gillingham, and he told me to grow my thumb nails out a little bit. Pressure gone. The nails give the meaty bit of your thumb something secure to push against, which reduce the pressure.

Also, try to break the bar around the shins with your fingers (or hook the little finger and ring finger real hard). It will take most of the thumb pressure away.

6. My grips give out too quickly with all the volume I throw at it!

This is in fact a true weakness of the hook grip. It's not good for high volume deadlifting (or olympic style pulling). You see weightlifters use straps all the time for assistant lifts to save their hands and fingers. So would hook-grip deadlifters if they hit a high volume. Brad Gillingham would use straps for any sets over 5 reps (sometimes with 5 reps) or for assistant exercises like Romanian Deadlift with high reps. Personally I deadlift with somewhat low volume so I don't need straps much, but when I used to do Sheiko (the evil Russian gets you to do a double deadlift session - deadlift, bench, deadlift - on the same night) I would use straps in the second round.

If you're not lifting a huge amount of weights though (remember that Brad Gillingham is a Hall of Fame powerlifter), sets of 5-10 will be fine. This particular complaint is for the very strong powerlifters.

Hook grip strength training

Anything that strengthens your usual grips and finger strength specifically will help. Personally I like to do pull-ups with a false grip and fingers monkey-hooking over the bar. That's the extent of my grip training.

That's all for now, happy hook gripping!

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(This post was last modified: 04-27-2015 09:25 AM by StrikeBack.)
04-27-2015 09:21 AM
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kbell Offline
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Post: #43
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
So there is a big difference with this grip compared to when the thumb is on the bar? When you said hook I thought you meant without the thumb.
04-27-2015 08:55 PM
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StrikeBack Offline
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Post: #44
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
Huge. You're talking about the regular double overhand grip. That is the weakest grip for the reason I stated above.

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04-27-2015 09:49 PM
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kbell Offline
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Post: #45
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
Looking at that the wrong and right one, it looks the two fingers cover the thumb gently, and the other two the bar. I assume you cause more pain to the thumb with the crossfit grip? I just practiced with a 35lb kettlebell in my room and I felt a lot of pressure in area between the forefinger and thumb. That callus must build right in the area before the nail.
(This post was last modified: 04-27-2015 10:28 PM by kbell.)
04-27-2015 10:02 PM
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StrikeBack Offline
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Post: #46
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
Yeah the crossfit grip (in that pic, not all crossfit boxes teach that) is not suitable for deadlifting, it will hurt your thumbs a lot.

The callus on my thumb builds mostly on the side closer to the fingers. It's not the same as the usual ones you see in your hands caused by deadlifting. It just seems like you have thicker thumbs.

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04-28-2015 04:13 AM
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Post: #47
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
== Tips for lifters with short arms ==

Having long arms benefits the deadlift greatly. You will gain a more favourable torso (back) angle, hips will be closer to the bar, the ROM will be less etc. Lifters with longer arms relative to torso and legs tend to be better at the deadlift than others at similar bodyweights.

This doesn't mean that if you're born with shorter arms, you're screwed when it comes to the deadlift though! There are plenty of ways to gain inches on arm length, and for a limited time only, you can buy these pills, with 4 easy weekly payments, that will... oh wait, wrong thread Smile

If you think you have short arms, this post is for you, although it will benefit the long armed lifters as well (but don't tell them, those bastards have it easy already).

I'll give you the mindset, strategy and understanding first, then the actual actionable tips. Those apply whether you lift conventional, half sumo or full sumo.

1. It's not about arm length, it's about reach

To fix your issues, you need to realise that it's about how far you can reach down, in order to maintain a torso angle as close to upright as possible, and have your hips as close to the bar as possible. While this may imply long arms, it actually means long reach and those two aren't necessarily the same. I first realised this when watching an elite deadlifter pull, and his shoulders dropped way below normal positions as he set up, which meant he could reach much further down, with the same arm length. I'd always thought he naturally had very long arms, which was true, but when we actually compared arm length directly, his were only slightly longer than mine.

All the tips that follow pretty much focus on this single realisation.

2. It's the same as having a good relaxed posture

While I was working on improving my reach, I happened to be doing yoga at the same time. I found out that everything I did in yoga to improve my posture was the same stuff that would increase my reach and improve mobility for the deadlift.

So while you might be doing the stretches for the deadlift, you should be doing them anyway for your posture.

The good news is that you don't have to do them too often. At first, you might need to work on them daily and intensely for 4-6 weeks, but once your body learns how to relax and settle into a good posture, you will only have to occasionally stretch to maintain.

3. Stretches

You can do these at any time you need: before lifting, between warmup sets, between work sets, during warm downs.

You should be doing them anyway if you lift at all, but often people skip these because they're lazy (myself included).

Pecs: tight chest would pull your arms and shoulders up, reducing downward reach. Do the door way stretch, downward dog (against floor or wall) or any good pec stretch you can find.

Lats: tight lats also pull your shoulders and arms up like tight chest. Stretch your lats. I do this during breaks at work: http://www.exrx.net/Stretches/Latissimus...rhead.html

Triceps: tight elbows, shorter reach. My favourite is to use the rolling barbell sleeve (bar must be empty for this to work) to roll the triceps.

Traps: tight traps pull your shoulders up, which is why you shouldn't do shrugs. Use a massage ball, or the same rolling barbell sleeve above.

Neck: plenty of stretches on exrx.net and other sites. It helps you to drop the shoulders down more.

Hip flexors: the closer you can get your hips to the bar, the less you have to bend over. There are plenty of stretches for this on the Internet, just google.

Note: those same stretches are the same to get into a front squat with a clean grip. If you find yourself able to do so, it means you have improved your deadlift setup as well.

4. Drills and other tips

Learn how to do scapula depression, because it will pull your shoulders down closer to the bar. Best way (and also a kind of stretch) is to grab 2 heavy-ish kettlebells, as if you're about to do farmer's walk, and just stand there in the neutral position, letting the KBs pull the shoulders and scapula down. This is a fantastic way to feel how "long" your arms can reach.

Deadlift a light weight like 135lb up, do a very slight shrug then let the bar pull your shoulders and arms down. Repeat for 5-8 reps. This has a similar effect to the KBs above.

Pull your chin back so your neck is in a neutral position to your spine. This will drop your shoulders and arms down, and also relax you into a good posture.

Relax your arms and shoulders while setting up, because relaxed arms and shoulders can be longer. Only build tension after you've already grabbed the bar and are about to lift.

Try learning the hook grip, as it will improve your reach (see post above).

Tricky: slightly internally rotate your shoulders (like a cork screw motion i.e similar to a punch) while going down to grab the bar, but do so without collapsing your chest in. This will increase your reach a tiny bit, but it all counts. Goes very well with a hook grip.

With all of those work, I've gone from a guy people instantly comment on with "oh you have short arms, you must struggle with the deadlift" to one where the short armed guys would say "damn you have long arms". That is until we measure arms and find out that ours are the same length.

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05-05-2015 09:10 AM
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Post: #48
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
I pulled my groin muscle either deadlifting or from walking home afterward (10 minute walk). No indication when lifting that I did anything wrong either. I was able to go up to 185 with the hook grip. As soon as switched to standard grip at 235 my arms got really tired. I have to take a week off since I'm sick with a throat infection. Hopefully I will be good to go again. I tried a 235 with a hook grip but my mind wouldn't let me yet.
05-05-2015 07:09 PM
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Post: #49
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
Any setup tips for partials with the bar raised on boxes or a rack?

Sheiko throws them in every so often, and they almost feel like a different lift. My normal deadlift must be much more leg-driven than I realised.

"I'd hate myself if I had that kind of attitude, if I were that weak." - Arnold
05-06-2015 03:56 AM
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Post: #50
RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
(05-05-2015 07:09 PM)kbell Wrote:  I pulled my groin muscle either deadlifting or from walking home afterward (10 minute walk). No indication when lifting that I did anything wrong either.

The body would be tight and muscles somewhat strained after deadlift. I suggest doing some warmdowns before you go home. For deadlift, I like hanging off a chinup bar and just lightly swing my legs and rotate my hips, using gravity to pull everything back into normal places.

(05-06-2015 03:56 AM)Benoit Wrote:  Any setup tips for partials with the bar raised on boxes or a rack?

Sheiko throws them in every so often, and they almost feel like a different lift. My normal deadlift must be much more leg-driven than I realised.

Sheiko explains it very clearly in his book, but it's in Russian.

You want to set up in the exact same position you would be at if you were to lift the bar from the floor. There is often a more efficient position to do in a rack pull, which your body may drift into, and one you wouldn't be in if you were to do a full lift. You don't want to be in that position and it will indeed feel like a different lift.

I'd take a lighter weight, deadlift to roughly where the bar should be in your desired rack pull, pause there for a bit then commit that position and feeling to muscle memory, so you can reproduce that in a rack pull.

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05-06-2015 07:54 PM
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