Coach Calvin utilizing a mixed-grip for his deadlift

When To Use Mixed Grip Or Double Overhand
Written by Hank Lopez

”Which grip should I use?” is a question I’ve been asked often during our deadlift sessions. To answer this question, I have put together some reasons to train both mixed grip and double overhand.

The Mixed-Grip
With this setup, one hand is placed overhand (pronated) while the other is underhand (supinated). This setup keeps the barbell from rolling out of the lifters hands and is often used at maximal weights, such as going for a PR.

The Pros for the Mixed-Grip

  • First, there comes a point where our grip cannot support the weight on the bar. Utilizing this grip style will ensure that you can keep moving the bar with less fatigue on the forearms, resulting in more reps and/or heavier weight on the bar!
  • Second, this grip is beneficial during most CrossFit workouts where high reps and fatigue are common. Less attention can be focused on the grip and more  thought can be put into the technique of the exercise.

The Cons for the Mixed-Grip

  • First, there are many resources that state that mixed-grip deadlifts do not increase grip strength. This may be true, however, we don’t always perform deadlifts for improving grip strength. Our grip gets taxed in many other ways – i.e. power cleans, pull-ups, rowing, snatches, etc. So this con may only partially apply to what we do in CrossFit.
  • Second, the mixed-grip does not transfer over to the Olympic lifts. These lifts are done double overhand. This could mean the weight on the bar during the clean may feel much heavier than you think it is, resulting in missed attempts.
  • Finally, those of us who suffer from chronic back pain or injury to our backside may want to avoid this grip. The hand setup will place your hips, back, and even the biceps out of correct positioning. Sticking to the double overhand grip is recommended to help protect the back.
Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 1.50.08 PM
The Mixed-Grip

The Double Overhand
This grip is common in everything we do in the gym – and probably even outside the gym. Both hands are set up pronated over the bar; lifters may or may not hook grip in this setup.

The Pros for the Double Overhand

  • First, grip strength will be the limiter while using this grip, which is great. I like this for a number of reasons. Failing reps resulting from grip fatigue rather than mechanical breakdown tends to be much safer.
  • Second, the more you test this grip, the better off your grip strength becomes.  Grip strength will only benefit from this setup, especially when the reps schemes are manageable.
  • Finally, with this setup, your hips, back, and biceps are in a good place. This should offer you some protection if you’re suffering from back discomfort.

The Cons for the Double Overhand

  • Our hands can only hold so much before the bar slips out. Furthermore, this grip offers no security to hanging onto sub-maximal loads.
  • Unlike the mixed grip, your transition to other movements in a workout, such as rowing, pull-ups, toes-to-bar, etc. will be more difficult due to extra fatigue placed on the forearms.
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The Double Overhand Grip

As you can see, there are benefits to using both type of grips. In CrossFit, we are constantly varied and always changing the stimulus. To answer the question of what grip should be used is simple……USE BOTH! The next time deadlifts come up in the programing, I encourage you all to warm up with double overhand. Once the weights get heavier, and you feel the need to switch grips, do so. Doing this will guarantee that grip work was tested. Train hard!

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