Laura O pulling a PR deadlift last month.
Grip is an incredibly important part of exercise, and a part that we sometimes overlook. Over the next few weeks, we’ll tackle some of the different movements and some variations of grips. Up first, the deadlift.
Look at Laura O crushing this deadlift! Feet are just inside hip width and the hands are just outside the knees. AND…. yep, she has one hand turned forward. This is what’s called a mixed grip, and it’s how 99% of the top lifters grip the bar. Which leads us to – why?
A common misconception is that the mixed grip is applied to help us pull the bar with our biceps. NO!!!!!!!!! That leads to tearing of tendons and all sorts of other things. You may be strong, but you can’t curl 300lbs. Even with mixed grip, the arms stay completely straight for the duration of the lift.
The real reason is to increase our grip on the bar. As you know, barbells spin. If you grab a bar with a “regular” double-0verhand grip, it will spin just a little. Essentially, the bar is trying to roll out of your hands. The mixed grip solves this problem. The bar won’t spin, and you’ll be able to deadlift more weight.
Now, you might ask, “Should I switch which hand is facing forward?” Absolutely not. “Won’t I end up with an imbalance?” Abso… oh. um. actually, yeah. You will develop a small imbalance. Similar to kicking with your right foot or throwing with your left arm. My thought is this: In any given session, you may do 15-20 deadlifts. If it’s a workout, maybe more. And you deadlift about once a week. In my experience, that’s not going to be enough to cause a major imbalance. If you’re on some program where you deadlift more often, you may want to save it for heavy sets. If you do have some back issues, maybe just avoid the mixed grip altogether.
If you’re a seasoned athlete, you’ve probably had some experience with the mixed grip. If you’re new, give it a try. It won’t have much effect on your warmups, so feel free to stick to a double overhand for those, but when the bar gets heavy, it makes a difference.