As a powerlifting lover, I've been doing deadlift for two years. Deadlift is an amazing workout that stimulates both upper and lower body. From the perspective of an exercise for whole body, deadlift is even better than squat. However, one thing always troubles me when perform this move is the grip strength, especially when pulling heavier weights.
To solve this problem, I did some research on internet as well as consulting coaches in my gym and here are some general approaches to increase grip strength.
- Stop using straps.
I've been using straps a lot since grip is my weakest link. Usually, after the warm up set plus one set of light weight work out, I feel my hands were no longer stable. With the help of straps, I managed to double the number of plates I could put on the bar. I used to believe it was worth it because I always wanted a thorough stimulation to bigger muscles such as upper/lower back and glutes. After all, I'm not a competitive lifter and don't plan to ever be one.
However, I recently changed my mind because I found my grip strength barely grows compared to the growth of my deadlift 1rm. I feel it's OK if straps can help with a bit more weight. But if it adds more than double the weight you can lift, I know it's time to get rid of some fake power or pride.
- Never pull mixed grip — until you absolutely have to.
I cringe when I see someone warming up with 135 pounds and their grip is mixed (meaning one palm is facing them and one palm is facing away). Do all of your warm-ups, and even your lighter working sets, with a double-overhand (both palms facing in) grip. When you get to the heaviest sets, go ahead and switch your grip. You will find that over time, the amount of weight you can handle double-overhand creeps up. That way, even when you DO switch to a mixed grip, your hands are massively stronger.
- Do static holds.
Hold with a weight that is challenging, but not so difficult that you can’t hold onto for at least five seconds. This can be as simple as holding the top of your heavier warm-up reps for 10 or 15 seconds.
- Add hands day into schedule.
A quick and easy way to do that is pinch lifting with plates. Take two iron plates and sandwich them together with the smooth sides facing out. Put them between your feet with the hole facing you, with your thumbs closest to your body, and pinch the plates with your fingers and thumbs. You can either use one hand or two, and you can use different sizes of plates to change the weight and thickness. A pair of 45s will provide a good challenge for two hands for most people. A pair of 10s will provide a nice thin pinch width and you can always hang additional weight from the plate hole.