There are different types of grip strength. For instance, crushing grip strength is the kind of grip strength you train with grippers. However, the main type of grip of concern to strength trainees and lifters is supporting grip strength. As the deadlift requires strong and enduring supporting grip, many lifters are concerned about being able to grip the bar during their heaviest lifts. According to many, however, this should be of no concern since the deadlift is all you need to train your supporting grip strength. Is this true?
Most Deadlifters Require Additional Grip Strength Training
No, for most average lifters, this is absolutely not true. Just training the deadlift alone, by virtue of having to grip the bar, does not automatically mean that your grip strength will progress in step with your deadlift progress and that you will never have to use any kind of dedicated, extra grip training. It is certainly true that deadlifting itself is the primary means of developing your supporting grip strength, but that doesn’t mean that it is enough.
Now, it should be a bit self-explanatory. Do you really expect your grip, controlled by small muscles, to progress right in line with much larger and coordinated muscles like your thighs, hips, and back? Do you expect the strength in your hands to progress in a way that corresponds with the strength in your entire body? A bit naive, don’t you think? So why do people say it so much?
Assuming they are not being defensive about their own lackluster grip strength, it’s probably because they have never pulled above 300 to 325. It could be a little less or a little more. You see, an average male, with average grip strength, can pretty much support at least 300 on the bar. Yep. Average grip strength is much stronger than you thought, I’ll bet. Hey, you may be below that. Nobody falls perfectly at the top of the graph. That’s not the point.
The point is, a guy who worked his deadlift up from 150 to say, 325, may think that the deadlift has been training his grip and so think that this means that “all you need for grip strength is the deadlift.” What he didn’t realize is that his grip just hasn’t been that challenged yet. If anything, he trained and built up endurance, but not necessarily absolute gripping strength. At some point, he will have to augment his grip with alternated or hook grip, or use straps, or do some grip training on the side to keep his grip in line with the weight on the bar. Probably he will have to do both. That is, he will have to use an augmented grip or straps and yet still need to do dedicated grip training.
Easy Way to Train Your Grip Strength for the Deadlift
Let’s start with the basics. If you want your actual deadlifting to help train your grip, you must use a regular pronated, or double-overhand grip. If you use an alternated grip or a hook grip, your grip will not be challenged as much and thus your grip strength will eventually fail leaving you with no alternative than straps to hold onto the bar. If you commit yourself to always using a regular pronated grip all the time until you absolutely need to switch to an augmented grip, you’ll have a lot more room to advance before you are forced to strap up. I’ll let you decide for yourself whether to use hook grip or alternated grip for your deadlifts, but as for me, I vote of alternated, when needed. However, with some dedicated grip training, youmayy not have to worry that much about it.
The easiest and most practical thing you can do to start training your grip strength for the deadlift right now is to do static holds. A very effective way to train grip endurance is to implement a static hold at the end of your last set of deadlifts. Before you return the bar to the floor, simply hold it as long as you safely can (don’t take a chance of dropping the bar).
In order to train your grip for the heavier deadlifts to come, you can use a rack to do your static holds. This way, you can hold a weight that is a bit heavier than you can actually deadlift right now (or heavier than you want to). Place the bar at just below waist level or another comfortable level on the supporting pins of a rack and load the bar with a weight that is heavier than the heaviest weight you are using on your deadlift. You can probably grip a lot more than you expect but start with a weight that is about 10 pounds heavier. Lift the weight off the rack and fully extend before holding the bar for a count of up to 30 seconds. To progress, add more sessions of static pulls so that you are doing three to four sessions per workout. Then add weight and repeat.
Using bars of different thicknesses can also help. Thick bar lifts are especially useful. Using a thicker bar spreads the fingers out, placing them at a disadvantage and so strengthens the grip, making it much easier to grip a regular sized bar. You don’t have to buy a special bar, you can convert your regular barbell by using Iron Bull Thick Bar Adapters. These come in 2-inch, 2.5, and 3-inch thicknesses. Although you can start with a 2-inch and work your way up if you have larger hands you may want to start with a larger size. Although this is only a guideline, for a significant grip challenge to occur, the handle must be thick enough so that the thumb cannot make contact with the fingers when it is adducted around the bar in a regular palmar grip. Place them on your barbell for an easy to moderate deadlift session and they will turn that session into a more challenging grip training session. Of course, you can use them in many different ways, even during muscle building workouts.
Another fun way to train supporting grip is by using the IronMind Rolling Thunder Revolving Deadlift Handle. It combines the advantages of thick handles with a handle that freely rotates, making holding onto the weighted implement a true test of grip strength.
You may not be familiar with an alternated (over-under) grip being called an augmented grip. Both the alternated and the hood grip are augmented grips, and you can read this article to understand more about them, and how they work, while finding out a lot more about how grip works in general.