Ask the Experts: What's the Best Grip for Deadlifts?

STACK Expert Rick Scarpulla explains various ways to grip the bar when performing the Deadlift.

Grip for Deadlift

Q: What is the best grip for Deadlifts?

A: This seems like a fairly straightforward concept. You grab the barbell and start deadlifting. However, if you want to maximize the benefits of the exercise, you need to pay a little more attention to your grip.

If you fail to hold the bar correctly, you'll ultimately limit how much weight you can lift and fail to challenge your muscles. Also, struggling to hold on to the bar causes a cascade of compensations leading to a breakdown of form.

We spoke with Rick Scarpulla of Ultimate Advantage Training to break down the best ways to hold the barbell when performing the Deadlift. And no, it does not involve using straps.

Double Overhand Grip

"I find the overhand grip to be the most comfortable grip to use," says Scarpulla. "It's also one of the best for grip development." However, you won't be able to lift as much weight as you can with other grips.

How to: Grasp the bar so your palms face behind you. Slightly flex your wrists (palms toward forearms) so the bar sits at the base of your fingers, not toward your fingertips.

Alternating Grip

Scarpulla says the alternating grip (or over-under grip) is the most common one he uses with his athletes. "This grip will allow you to pull the largest amount of weight in most cases," he says. But he cautions it may stress the elbow of your under grip arm. He recommends sticking with a setup that's comfortable for you. Don't feel you have to alternate your over and under hand on each set.

How to: Grasp the bar so the palm of one of your hands faces forward in an underhand grip and your opposite hand takes an overhand grip, as described above.

Hook Grip

The hook grip is the strongest of the three, but Scarpulla believes only athletes with long thumbs can properly use this grip. "Personally, I find it painful, and it feels like my thumb knuckle is separating, so I rarely use it," he says. "If you have a long thumb, you may like it, but it depends on your hand and finger length."

How to: Place your palms on the bar as if in an overhand grip and wrap your thumbs around the bottom of the bar. Curl your fingers around the bar and over your thumbs to create a hook grip.

What About Double Underhand Grip?

The double underhand grip is a no-no when performing heavy Deadlifts. "I never recommend the double underhand grip, because it places a great deal of stress on the elbows and biceps tendon," explains Scarpulla. There's no reason to choose this grip given its high risk of injury.

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