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Prevent Biceps Tendon Tears From Deadlifts By Using The Hook Grip

by Rusi
Added On September 3, 2011
Deadlifts and its brothers - the rack pull and the power shrug are among the exercises that allows you to lift the most weight. However a lot of biceps tendons have been tore during deadlifts and the main thing to blame is the mixed grip which is used during the heaviest sets.

The mixed grip is dangerous for the following reasons:

1) It places tremendous stress on the biceps tendon of the arm placed in underhand/supinated position - palm facing away from you:

2) Because of the asymmetry there is more stress on your lower-back which has to compensate;

3) Uneven muscular development;
It's not that hard to understand why the mixed grip may rip your biceps tendon or cause asymmetry. You lift extremely heavy weights and your biceps is stretched to its maximum when placed in a supinated grip. The tendon is placed in extremely dangerous position. And even if you keep perfect form - elbows straight- you may still tear it. I know there are tons of lifters who use the mixed grip but in my opinion there is better and safer way - THE HOOK GRIP.

The hook grip is used exclusively by all Olympic weightlifters. The picture below illustrates what the hook grip actually is.
The below picture of Arnold illustrates all of this. Notice how the arm that causes the imbalanced position is the one in supination.
As you can see the hook grip is a regular overhand grip but instead of placing your thumb over your fingers you place your fingers over your thumb. Four fingers will always be stronger than one thumb and by placing the thumb between the bar and your fingers the barbell will never slide even when you lift super heavy weights. I've used the hook grip during 1RM deadlifts, power shrugs, barbell rows, dumbbell rows and so on. It gives safety and is just as strong if not stronger that a mixed grip. However you may experience some of the issues listed below.
The hook grip will make your thumb hurt. There is no other way around it. You may also experience some numbness that usually goes away fast. Also you might be missing some skin after you've done a set of limit deadlifts. I know it sounds painful but believe me you prefer that pain instead of a torn biceps tendon. The tendon is protected when you perform deadlifts with hook grip because both of your arms are placed in an overhand grip position/ palms facing you.  Also your body is in perfect symmetry because you can grip the bar evenly.

Another issue with hook grip that will make it a little harder is finger length. If you have extremely short fingers you may have hard time overlapping your thumb and index finger. This is rare and usually people will be able overlap their fingers successfully. It's enough to have your index finger over the nail of your thumb.

Those are the only two downsides of the hook grip. The benefits however are far greater. I guess that you are wondering - Are there any world class lifters who use the hook grip for deadlifts? Yes, there are.

Number 1:  Brad Gillingham - deadlifts 843 pounds using a hook grip
Number 2:  Mikhail Koklyaev - deadlifts 405kg/891lbs using a hook grip
Number 3:  Bob Peoples - deadlifts over 700lbs using a hook grip
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