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Thread: Thoughts on the grip and deadlift?

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    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Thoughts on the grip and deadlift?

    I was watching a 2004 PLUSA Video magazine deadlift workout with Brian Meek (58 years old, 700+ deadlift) - here's what he had to say about grip and deadlifts:

    We wear straps because we don't want our wrist or grip strength to hinder our back and strength development we get from it. ...it's my experience and my belief that very few deadlifts are missed because of grip strength because people can take out of the rack a lot more than they can ever deadlift without a grip problem. It's just that your grip is a manifestation of a weakness somewhere else... so we use straps.
    Thoughts?
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
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  2. #2
    SFW! drew's Avatar
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    I agree. I've missed deadlifts because of "grip" when the weakness was really my lower back or hips not pulling fast enough. Once you hit that lower back fatigue, you can fight forever, and eventually the bar will slip out of your hands.

    Stats: Age: 34 Weight: 205 Height: 5'6"
    Gym PRs: Squat:635 Bench:560 Deadlift:495
    Meet PRs: Squat:575 Bench:525 Deadlift:510 Total: 1605@220

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    Senior Member DumbellDude's Avatar
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    From my limited experience on DL, I would agree. In the begining I used straps and was progressing fast. After I stopped using straps, my grip strength increased, and now I feel like my back is the weak point. My grip will fail after several seconds of struggling to pull the weight - I've never used chalk though.
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    Push powerlifting heathj's Avatar
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    kind of an oxymoron though. if grip is not a problem then it won't fail and hinder a deadlift.

  5. #5
    Banned markdk86's Avatar
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    If I cant hold it, I can't do it. No straps, no aids. My grip is just important as any other part of my body.

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    Go Heels! MixmasterNash's Avatar
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    Thoughts? If you can deadlift 700lbs, you can do whatever you want.

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    Senior Member HeavyBomber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensei
    I was watching a 2004 PLUSA Video magazine deadlift workout with Brian Meek (58 years old, 700+ deadlift) - here's what he had to say about grip and deadlifts:


    Thoughts?

    Isn't he talking about using straps while performing heavy rack pulls? I would agree with that because my rack pull is a good one hundred pounds more than my sumo off the floor.

  8. #8
    SFW! drew's Avatar
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    I won't use straps when doing heavy rack pulls. One of the reasons I do rack pulls is to hold more weight than I will be pulling from the floor on the platform. If I can hold 600 in my hands, I can certianly hold 500.

    Stats: Age: 34 Weight: 205 Height: 5'6"
    Gym PRs: Squat:635 Bench:560 Deadlift:495
    Meet PRs: Squat:575 Bench:525 Deadlift:510 Total: 1605@220

  9. #9
    Senior Member HeavyBomber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drew
    I won't use straps when doing heavy rack pulls. One of the reasons I do rack pulls is to hold more weight than I will be pulling from the floor on the platform. If I can hold 600 in my hands, I can certianly hold 500.
    Yeah but look at those rack pulls I posted back in July. I pulled 725 with no straps but there is no way I could have held on to more. With the straps I did another single with 765.
    So I pulled 85 pounds more without straps than my current PR dead off the floor but there's no way I could have gone more without them. So wwith your logic I would have robbed my posterior out of a 765 lift because I couldn't hold on.
    Last edited by HeavyBomber; 08-27-2006 at 11:07 AM.

  10. #10
    Back in business WBBIRL's Avatar
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    Grip hasnt failed me yet in a single max attempt, but when going for reps my back can go longer then my grip. I can deadlift 315 pretty easy for reps, without straps however every rep above 5 is a miracle to hold on to for my hands.

    If your hands are big enough, use the hook grip... mine barely are but I rarely ever use it.

  11. #11
    SFW! drew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HeavyBomber
    Yeah but look at those rack pulls I posted back in July. I pulled 725 with no straps but there is no way I could have held on to more. With the straps I did another single with 765.
    So I pulled 85 pounds more without straps than my current PR dead off the floor but there's no way I could have gone more without them. So wwith your logic I would have robbed my posterior out of a 765 lift because I couldn't hold on.
    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that at all. I think if you can pull more from pins with straps then you should absolutely do it. My point was more that if you can pull the bar from the floor, and you lose it at the top (at least in my case) it's more because of a slow pull which will eventually fatigue the entire body and the grip will fail, but it's not necessarily because the grip was the primary weakness.

    Stats: Age: 34 Weight: 205 Height: 5'6"
    Gym PRs: Squat:635 Bench:560 Deadlift:495
    Meet PRs: Squat:575 Bench:525 Deadlift:510 Total: 1605@220

  12. #12
    Amateur Strongman Dinosaur's Avatar
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    It's important to do both IMO. For instance, the last time I maxed on deads, I first did it all raw, as that's how I like my PRs to be ("just chalk and socks", as I call it). I then tossed on a belt and straps and maxed out that way, pulling about 30+ more pounds that way. My grip certainly isn't too much of a limiting factor considering how much I work it, but I like the philosophy that once you've worked to the max of your grip, then toss on straps and see what you can do.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Sidior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dinosaur
    It's important to do both IMO. For instance, the last time I maxed on deads, I first did it all raw, as that's how I like my PRs to be ("just chalk and socks", as I call it). I then tossed on a belt and straps and maxed out that way, pulling about 30+ more pounds that way. My grip certainly isn't too much of a limiting factor considering how much I work it, but I like the philosophy that once you've worked to the max of your grip, then toss on straps and see what you can do.
    :withstupi

    I train until my grip gives out, then add straps. This only really happens with rack pulls though in regards to pulling for me.
    PRs: 655/525/645 = 1825 Total
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drew
    My point was more that if you can pull the bar from the floor, and you lose it at the top (at least in my case) it's more because of a slow pull which will eventually fatigue the entire body and the grip will fail, but it's not necessarily because the grip was the primary weakness.
    This is Brian Meek's point too. He uses straps with an overhand grip in ALL of his gym deadlifts - he didn't do rack pulls in that workout, but I would imagine it's the same there too.
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
    Lifting Clips: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=johnnymnemonic2
    Blog: http://squatrx.blogspot.com/

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    I dont think there is a reason not to use straps. Think of it this way...oyu can hold your grip with a heavy weight as long as you can and when the grip gives out the straps take over a bit. So it isnt like your grip doesn't get a workout...it actually gets a better w/o b/c you are using a heavier weight. So either wat starps FTW.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Sidior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bics56
    I dont think there is a reason not to use straps. Think of it this way...oyu can hold your grip with a heavy weight as long as you can and when the grip gives out the straps take over a bit. So it isnt like your grip doesn't get a workout...it actually gets a better w/o b/c you are using a heavier weight. So either wat starps FTW.
    I don't agree for with this. I trained for over a full year always using straps and when I went to doing things strapless at first my grip was lagging way behind.
    PRs: 655/525/645 = 1825 Total
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  17. #17
    IRL my name is Trent Hazerboy's Avatar
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    If powerlifters used some sort of equipment to hold on to the bar on the squat would there be this small of a protest?

    I only believe in equipment if it prevents injury, i.e. pads in football, thick shoes in basketball. As of now there is some debate over whether a bench shirt or knee wraps/belts will prevent injury so on that I am undecided (though I still don't use any of them as I"m nowhere near that level). Straps, however, are purely an aid to the lift, they're there to make it easier. From this point you have to ask what the deadlift is mean to test - back strength, or the ability to pull a set amount of weight off the ground.

    If you're using straps in training, however, such as for rack pulls, that is a little different. From there you simply have to assess your weakness - is it holding on to the weight at the top of the lift, or pulling the weight at the top of the lift? Train as follows. Even this becomes somewhat self defeating, however; if your weakness is locking out at the top of the lift, and NOT grip, then why do you even need straps?
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  18. #18
    Back in business WBBIRL's Avatar
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    Its a moot point.... someone with larger hands or a bigger chest has an unfair advantage. Your challengeing your muscular strength... not your genetic given advantages.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hazerboy
    If powerlifters used some sort of equipment to hold on to the bar on the squat would there be this small of a protest?

    I only believe in equipment if it prevents injury, i.e. pads in football, thick shoes in basketball. As of now there is some debate over whether a bench shirt or knee wraps/belts will prevent injury so on that I am undecided (though I still don't use any of them as I"m nowhere near that level). Straps, however, are purely an aid to the lift, they're there to make it easier. From this point you have to ask what the deadlift is mean to test - back strength, or the ability to pull a set amount of weight off the ground.

    If you're using straps in training, however, such as for rack pulls, that is a little different. From there you simply have to assess your weakness - is it holding on to the weight at the top of the lift, or pulling the weight at the top of the lift? Train as follows. Even this becomes somewhat self defeating, however; if your weakness is locking out at the top of the lift, and NOT grip, then why do you even need straps?
    I think you're missing the point somewhat Hazer. You only need three good lifts at a meet - in training, you do a lot more volume and grip strength is, for most people, an issue when doing reps. Just so you know, I don't necessarily agree 100%, but I think it's an interesting thought.

    Brian also said that he believes using straps with an overhand grip lessens the chance of bicep and lower back injuries.
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
    Lifting Clips: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=johnnymnemonic2
    Blog: http://squatrx.blogspot.com/

  20. #20
    Senior Member Anthony's Avatar
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    I don't own a pair of straps and never will. I don't see the point in wanting to lift something if you can't hold on. Your bigger muscles may be able to handle the load, but why promote an unbalanced system?
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  21. #21
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    I guess I should have given more background. As of that 2004 interview, Brian Meek had done a 750lb deadlift in competition. He doesn't train the deadlift particularly heavy in the gym - usually pulling (in the gym) no more than 100lbs under his competition lifts. He's not pulling more than he does in competition - he's actually pulling much less.
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
    Lifting Clips: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=johnnymnemonic2
    Blog: http://squatrx.blogspot.com/

  22. #22
    Go Heels! MixmasterNash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony
    I don't own a pair of straps and never will. I don't see the point in wanting to lift something if you can't hold on. Your bigger muscles may be able to handle the load, but why promote an unbalanced system?
    I can think of a very good reason to use straps to work something like deadlifts:
    Your grip is toasted from some other activity.

    I may be an extreme example, but if I were to go climbing immediately before or the day before deadlifting, my grip would probably be much weaker than if I were coming in fresh.

    More generally, pulling grip work is isometric, and as such will lead to fatigue before the dynamic movement of pulling muscles. Deadlifting loads are closer to maximal for gripping muscles than, say, other muscles used isometrically, such as the traps or lats, and so they will fatigue first.

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  23. #23
    Senior Member Anthony's Avatar
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    Maybe if you were doing high volume, but I can't see singles being much of a problem. And if they were, well, that's your max for the day. Suck it up, move on.
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  24. #24
    Iron4Life
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    Another great thought provoking thread..
    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony
    Maybe if you were doing high volume, but I can't see singles being much of a problem. And if they were, well, that's your max for the day. Suck it up, move on.
    I have always thought this way too..
    But the idea that the volume is taxing to the grip.. and the comments from Brian about overhand grip and bicep injuries.. I think I might add a set or 2 of heavy DLs with straps..

    My current trip from grip failure problems.. and overwork.. perhaps this is another lesson??

    Ey... what are a few workouts giving it a try??

  25. #25
    Breaker of Skulls Guido's Avatar
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    You can't use straps in a meet, so why use them when training if you're training for meets?

    I tax my grip a lot when doing rack pulls, shrugs, and bentover BB rows and I never use straps. I think anyone can get to a point where grip is never an issue if they train it enough (without overtraining).
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