You know it: You could be deadlifting so much more if it wasn’t for that weak grip of yours.
But don’t despair because there ARE ways to get a stronger grip for this compound exercise.
So you already know that a weak grip can hold you back from doing your best deadlifts.
Your legs may be strong, lower back strong, shoulders strong, but a weak grip will interfere and force you to set the barbell down even though you have a few more good reps in you.
To get good grip strength for deadlifts, don’t wear the gloves.
You may think that these help with grip strength. They don’t.
They help you maintain a better grip on the barbell, but this is not the same as increasing your grip strength.
You want to create an independently stronger grip and wrist, and all that the gloves will do is prevent this from happening.
Powder is okay, but the gloves create an artificial assistance. Think of it this way:
Suppose in a real life situation you must lift something heavy, and it requires a good, lasting grip. You won’t be prepared, because in real life, you won’t have the gloves handy to rely upon.
Simply sticking to your deadlift program may not be sufficient for building adequate grip and wrist strength, especially if you’re advancing quickly, so you must do something for your hands beyond just your deadlift routine.
Chin-ups and Pull-ups
Chin-ups and pull-ups will help build grip strength if you do these using only your index, middle and fourth fingers. And then use only your middle, forth and pinky fingers for more sets.
Farmer’s walks while holding heavy dumbbells with the just-mentioned sets of fingers will dramatically contribute to enhancing grasping and wrist strength. In other words, you are somewhat mimicking the deadlift motion.
Wrist curls won’t do a whole lot of good because this does not mimic the deadlift motion.
As you know, in the deadlift your wrists are in a fixed, immobile position, and as your hands begin fatiguing, the fingers begin absorbing a lot of the weight.
Ultimately, the fingers will fail if not strong enough to continue grasping the bar.
In my opinion, the farmer’s walks are better than the chin-ups/pull-ups because farmer’s more closely resemble the deadlift action.
Another routine for strengthening would be shoulder shrugs using just those three fingers in the combinations previously mentioned.
Shoulder shrugs can be done with dumbbells, the Smith machine, or a shoulder shrug apparatus.
When doing grip strengthening exercises, use heavy weights. If you’re doing a 6-rep max with the deadlift that’s supposed to be an 8-10 rep max, but your hands conk out at the sixth rep, then doing endurance gripping exercises won’t help much at all.
The goal is a powerful grip, and a powerful grasping action will provide enough juice to last you through 12 deadlift reps.
Perform the hand strengthening exercises after your deadlift routine and on another day at the gym that’s several days out from the deadlifting regimen.
There are two more exercises that will help build grip and wrist strength: hand grips, and rock wall climbing. In fact, if you take up rock wall climbing just once a week, you’ll see a fast improvement in your deadlift grip.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.