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There is quite a lot of pressure on my hands when doing deadlifts and lat pulldowns. If the bar lays away from my fingers, the bar will pinch the fat on the top of my palms. On the other hand, if I lay the bar on the lower fingers, the bar puts pressure on the bones because the fingers have relatively low fat padding compared to the palms. What are other options for low pressure grips?

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I was taught to dead lift using a hook grip and my trainers advice was the same at the wikipedia article, "it will stop hurting with regular use and conditioning". Still hurts when I retest for my 1RM. –  Megasaur Mar 27 '11 at 6:26
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Have you tried wearing weight lifting gloves or grips? –  Rhea Mar 27 '11 at 19:08
    
I wore Gold's Gym gloves before and the underhand was well padded. There was little pain in my grip. Those gloves got stolen and someone gave me Addidas gloves as a gift. The underhand is just leather - no padding. Yes, thick gloves will help, but I'm wondering how all those strong people at the gym do it barehanded with extreme weight. –  JoJo Mar 27 '11 at 21:45
    
They probably have calluses. I have some calluses that still haven't gone away completely and I use gloves 99% of the time. I know guys that workout with their wedding rings without gloves and wonder how the ring doesn't bug them. Also if it's truly "extreme weight", they are probably not lifting for high reps. –  Rhea Mar 28 '11 at 1:42
    
Oh yeah, my calluses are where the fat pinches on the top of the palms like you mentioned it pinches on you. –  Rhea Mar 28 '11 at 1:59
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6 Answers 6

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Grip is a big part of the deadlift, pull-ups, pull-downs, etc. It consists of not only muscular strength, but also the skin toughness and pain tolerance to hold a ton of weight. It is very common for grip to be the limiting factor early on. Don't give up - grip strength is incredibly useful in all aspects of life (working with tools, climbing, opening jars for the ladies) and will improve quickly if you work at it.

Stronglifts has a great guide on improving your grip for the deadlift. Read it through carefully. The only things I'd add to that article are:

  1. Take care of your hands and calluses. Calluses take some time to develop, but are very useful in protecting your hands. Taking proper care of them not only prevents tears, it also makes them less noticeable to anyone you might be touching.
  2. In addition to mixed grip, another grip option is the hook grip.
  3. Don't use straps and don't use gloves. Straps are a crutch and will prevent your grip from getting stronger. Gloves (a) don't prevent calluses/blisters particularly well, (b) increase the bar thickness, making the lift harder and (c) make you useless for lifting heavy things if you happen not to have them on you. It's sad to see a lifter who can't deadlift because he left his straps or gloves at home. On the other hand, I always have my calluses with me.
  4. In addition to static holds at the end of a deadlift, other exercises that strengthen the grip include farmer's walks, pull-ups, cleans, snatches, and climbing.
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I would add that the correct grip would be to grab the bar so that the bar is already at the knuckle where your fingers attach. By grabbing at this position and wrapping your fingers around the bar, you are preventing the bar from slipping to that position anyway. It also lessens the formation/ripping of callouses better than gloves could. Ideally you would use chalk, but if that isn't possible get an Eco-Ball. –  Berin Loritsch Jul 6 '11 at 17:42
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If your gym allows it, the "correct" solution is to use chalk. It keeps the bar from slipping, which is the primary source of pain, and still allows you to strengthen your grip by gripping the bar directly.

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When lifting heavy I use a combo of over/under hand grip (left and under and right hand over and on the next lift I reverse this) - I found that this gives me the ability to lift heavier (I also do the same when I get fatigued doing pull ups).

You may also want to look into straps( http://www.bodysmart-usa.com/Consumer/Weightlifting/WLAC.htm), but don't use them as a long term crutch and start building up your hand strength by holding the final up position doing deadlifts.

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If overhand and underhand grips are both painful, I can't think of anything other way of holding it that would help. So maybe the better question is what tool you can use to make it hurt less:

  1. Time and determination. There's no substitute for good old-fashioned skin toughening.

  2. Weightlifting gloves. Padded to fix exactly this problem. There are plenty of choices on the market.

  3. Towel/shirt/etc. Less effective than #2, but cheaper. Might be good enough, especially in combination with #1.

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a GREAT exercise that will increase your grip strength is "Rolling Thunder", which can be bought at IronMind. They also have a lot of other equipment for grip strength. Most people will start to train at about 30-50 kgs.

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Are your fingers short in length? That might be compounding your problem. My fingers are short - I can't palm a basketball. Some lateral pull down bars have the foam padding which makes it a greater circumference. I usually use the bar that is pad-less (because of my fingers being short).

Also, you don't have to use the "conventional" methods to target your back.

You can try a kettle ball deadlift.

You can try using the different bar attachments for the lat pull down machine like the V-bar and see if you like the "feel" of that better. That site also shows the "close grip" other grips such as reverse grip, neutral grip, overhand close grip, etc..

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