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Ok, Deadlift is a great exercise. But I don't dare lifting heavy yet, because of an old injury. However, when performed with reverse grip (both hand with palms facing forwards, I believe this is called supine grip, but I am not sure) I feel it is safer. The area where that old injury is, somehow feels less compromised, less stressed.

But then, is that variation of Deadlift dangerous? Does it target very different muscles? Do I miss the good properties of the normal Deadlift by reversing the grip?

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I've heard the palms-outward grip can aggravate or tear the biceps tendon fairly easily. –  Dave Liepmann Jun 9 '13 at 22:39
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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Changing the grip of a deadlift does not greatly change the targeted primary muscles, the exercise allows some significant variation in the grips used.

Reversing the grip should not immediately cause you trouble, but it might be a bad idea in the long run for the following reasons:

  1. It is a weaker grip. The bar will have a tendency to roll away from your body. Grip strength becomes a problem for most people who deadlift at some point, it would happen much earlier with this kind of a grip.
  2. It runs greater risk of you inadvertently placing strain on your biceps, which doesn't handle extreme weights very well. (Look up "torn biceps deadlift" or similar on YouTube for ample demonstrations - if you dare!)

You may wish to experiment with a mixed grip (one palm facing towards the body, the other is reversed). It solves the first issue, but the second remains. It is a popular technique.

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I just want to add the results of my own "investigations" on the subject (although the answer I accepted is still OK).

  • First, my old injury is gone and the problem was the incorrect form. After reading in Rippetoe's book, I found I could perform Deadlifts easily. Form does matter!

  • Anyway, I found Sumo Deadlifts an easier exercise. And, according to the EXRX website, the muscles involved are quite similar (normal Deadlift here).

  • This video by Elliot Hulse called "4 Types of Deadlifts You Should Do" was helpful too.

  • According to EXRX, this dumbbell version of Deadlifts works pretty much the same muscles (normal Deadlift here) though of course the load on the lower back will be half the load with respect to the barbell version (or, conversely, you might pick up a heavier dumbbell if available, but then one single shoulder will carry twice the load, which doesn't seem a very good idea).

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