Deadlift Grip: Variations and Tools

By Sarah Wagner on June 15, 2016

So you’ve been deadlifting overhand for a while now. You’ve been going up in weight, and you’ve noticed some forearm development and grip strength improvement, but dang, the bar keeps slipping when you try to pull singles. What now?

Mixed Grip

This is what I use past 115 lbs at the moment. I try to keep it to overhand until I absolutely need to switch it up. This is because I’m trying to improve my grip strength without having to rely on this as a crutch even during warm ups. Some folks don’t ever switch back and forth which hand is under and which is over throughout their deadlifting session, but I do. Below is a great video by Alan Thrall explaining why he doesn’t use mixed grip anymore. Mixed grip definitely has its drawbacks, including potential imbalances, bicep tears, and drifting the bar away from the body on one side as Alan mentions.

This is a great video of Alan covering all the grips, and why he doesn’t use mixed grip.

Hook Grip

This is a popular grip in Olympic lifting. I’ve never used this because I haven’t felt it’s necessary for me, I don’t have a narrow enough bar for this to work with my hands, and I’ve also heard it hurts. If you think about it, it makes sense, you’re putting a lot pressure on your thumb in this grip style. Taping up your thumbs while using this type of grip could help with that, as Derek has done in the above video.


I used to use chalk in recreational gymnastics for many years. You know, back in the day when I could do muscle ups, because if you want to play, you have to get on the bars. I’m not saying you’ll suddenly be able to do muscle ups if you use chalk, but who knows until you try?

Chalk is a great way to keep your hands dry, which will help you keep a better grip on the bar. You can use chalk with any type of grip you want, but you might not be able to use it in any gym. A couple of the gyms in my town have banned chalk, since it leaves a mess behind and not many gyms want to deal with the additional clean up. Be a good gym patron, and ask if they allow it before you start using chalk.


Ok, these are controversial, but they can be useful. For example, if your grip and forearms burn out, but the rest of you is ready to keep lifting, straps can help make this happen. Pull days were rough for me back in 2013, and to burn out lats I had to rely on straps towards the end of workouts. I never used them for deadlifts though, since I’ve just never felt that I needed them. They are also useful if you’re recovering from a hand injury or imbalance. Consider them a tool to use after mixed or hook grip, but don’t rely on straps all the time, or your grip won’t have a chance to improve.

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Sarah Wagner - Gravitus profile

Sarah handles all things marketing for Gravitus. An avid baker, she enjoys developing macro friendly recipes. She's been lifting heavy since 2013, and loves the barbell like she loves cute puppies.