In terms of your training, how often do you think about your forearms? We’re guessing way too rarely. If that’s true, you are probably unaware that changing or strengthening your grip can enhance your lifting performance while a weak or inadequate grip can easily leave you with unpleasant chronic repetitive motion injuries.
If you suffer from improper strength ratios between the elbow and forearm muscles, or simply lack the required level of strength and mobility in both of those muscle groups, your lifts will be far from the best they could be. Even worse, your risk of potential injury in other areas of the body, such as the rotator cuff, will increase together with the progress of your training intensity. In addition, multiple studies have shown that grip strength is an amazing indicator of overall strength. There’s no doubt that taking care of your grip will easily reduce your risk of developing painful conditions and help you lift more safely, as well as stimulate your performance and enable you to break training plateaus.
First of all, correct any grip mistakes you might be perpetuating. We’ve all been there, so don’t worry. These mistakes are very easy to fix yet eliminating them from your routine can be incredibly rewarding. You don’t want your hands holding you back from the perfect lift, right? Then check out these three most common grip mistakes and get rid of them immediately.
Mistake #1: Closed Thumb on Lat Pulldowns
Have you noticed that many bodybuilders fatigue their arms faster than their back muscles on lat pulldowns? This is a classic example of a poor execution of a certain exercise, resulting with activation of the wrong muscles which steal the show from the muscles you actually wanted to target.
The lat pulldowns shouldn’t be performed with closed thumbs because such an effort is contradictory – this grip actually limits the involvement of the lats and instead engages the musculature of the arms. So instead of closing your thumbs, let them be free. That way you ensure that the biggest part of the load hits the lats and the muscles surrounding them, not the biceps and forearms.
Mistake #2: Limp Wrists on the Bench
Do you let your palms face the ceiling instead of your knuckles? If yes, then you’re guilty of benching with limp wrists. This usually happens to lifters who lack good wrist stability and grip strength. How to fix it? Keep your wrists neutral and your knuckles pointing straight up and maintain a tight grip to avoid hyper-extending your wrists.
Also, don’t ever forget: if you can’t grip it, you can’t lift it. Before you start lifting, you have to make sure that your grip is tight and adequate to the mechanics of the lift. However, the most stupid idea you could ever have is to apply a thumbless grip when lifting anything over your head, which dramatically increases your risk of dropping the bar and seriously hurting yourself – people call it “the suicide grip” for a reason, you know.
Mistake #3: Using Only a Mixed Grip on Deadlifts
A mixed grip means that one hand uses an overhand grip and the other an underhand grip. The popularity of this practice stems from its ability to prevent the bar from rolling in your hands and opening the fingers up, resulting with a stronger grip.
However, if you always use a mixed grip for deadlifts, you are most likely to develop imbalances throughout the body, caused by its tendency to twist slightly as you rise up, meaning that the side of the pronated hand will rotate backwards while the side of the supinated hand will rotate forward. And as you could guess, this is very bad news for your spine. Perform deadlifts like this for long enough and you’ll become a great candidate for injury. Instead, it would be much better to use the double overhand grip or the hook grip, which involves trapping your thumb between the barbell and your first 3 fingers. If you can’t do it correctly right away, invest some time into practice – it will most definitely pay off.