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Whenever I see instructional videos on standard deadlifts, the lifter is using either mixed grip or overhand grip; however they never go on to differentiate why they are using that particular grip or the pros/cons that come with each.

What is the primary difference in mixed grip vs overhand? Are there pros/cons to each grip? Is one particularly better than the other?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Double OverHand (DOH) grip is most commonly taught to beginners for a couple reasons:

  • It feels more natural
  • It avoids the feeling of twisting inherent in mixed grip
  • It's more important to start deadlifting that listening to complaints about how weird it feels.

That said, there is a limit to how much you can hold that way. You can improve your grip using plate holds, or even simply holding your last rep for 30s at the end. But there will still come a time when you can't use DOH any more.

To that end, you have hook grip and mixed grip as options to move to. Hook grip is stronger than DOH, and it retains the benefits of DOH symmetry. The downsides are you are squeezing your thumb hard, and if you have small hands and a thick bar you just may not be able to do it. Some people are able to deadlift 800lbs with hook grip, but they are exceptions to the rule. Hook grip is most commonly used in Olympic style weightlifting (snatches and the clean & jerk).

Mixed grip is the strongest grip we have:

  • As the bar rolls down one hand, it rolls up the other--meaning you can lift heavier things more easily.
  • It does cause the feeling of twisting, and to some extent it does cause that.
  • Do not flex your arms at all during the deadlift. This is even more important on the suppinated hand (hand facing away from you).
  • You do need to switch which hand is suppinated to ensure even training, unlike the other options.

It's not so much a question of either/or, as much as it is when you graduate from one to the other. Many lifters agree that using DOH as long as you possibly can is best. However, when you can't get the bar to budge at all, simply switching to a stronger grip may be all you need to get the bar off the floor.

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So I believe it depends on your progression. When you just start training there is really no need for a mixed grip until you can deadlift with good form and reach heavier weigths. However doing mixed grip only on really heavy sets (>90% of 1RM) can result in injury due to not getting used to mixed grip. So training it is important.

Handeling really heavy weights in my opinion should be done with mixed grip since training your normal grip for heavy sets will take a LOT of time. Yes with a mixed grip you are more susceptible for injury but when you have structural integrity it should be no problem as long as you switch hands from set to set.

I personally use it on set heavier than 225 (1RM 350)

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My Recommendation

I advocate deadlifting with a double overhand with no hook grip for as many warm-up sets as possible, in order to develop grip strength. For heavy warm-ups and work sets, I think a hook grip with chalk is the best way to develop grip while still moving heavy weights.

I don't use the mixed grip, and would only advocate it for PR attempts (maybe) or for people with specific reasons to avoid working on their grip (e.g. injury or disability).


I want a strong deadlift, a strong grip, and no injuries. The mixed grip prevents development of grip strength and adds the risk of tearing the biceps tendon:

"But Dave," you might object. "You say to use a hook grip and chalk, which are tools to make the bar easier to grip. Why are they OK but mixed grip isn't?" Good question. It's because without chalk and hook grips, pretty much nobody can lift heavy weights. Those two tools allow people to lift HUUUUUGE weights and develop plenty of grip strength that they couldn't if they didn't use those tools. So what I'm saying is this:

  • without hook grip or chalk: highest risk of callus tears, no biceps tendon tears, grip strength gets a lot of work but grip limits deadlift to stupidly low weights
  • with chalked double overhand hook grip: fewest callus tears, no biceps tendon tears, and grip strength gets plenty of work and grip doesn't limit deadlift very much for most people
  • with chalked mixed hook grip: fewest callus tears but highest (though small) risk of biceps tendon tears, grip strength doesn't get much work but deadlift is limited the least

To Sum Up

The chalked double overhand hook grip is the Goldilocks of deadlift grips: the best mix of safety and strength training for both grip and the rest of the body.

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But Dave, You say to use a hook grip and chalk, which are tools to make the bar easier to grip. Why are they OK but mixed grip isn't? – Eric Kaufman Jan 17 at 20:31
@EricKaufman You know, that's a good question. I hadn't thought of that. – Dave Liepmann Jan 17 at 20:36
With regards to mixed not developing grip, it would if you only used it on your work weight and do DOH for warmups (or until at grip limit). This way you train both grip strength and still get the benefit of high deadlift weight. – Moses Jan 22 at 17:12

Grip depends on so many factors, but I prefer overhand grip for both. Mixed grip is great if you want to lift more, but if you rely on it, it promotes various muscle imbalances.

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A mixed grip is stronger and allows for heavier weight to be held. This is generally the "default" grip for deadlifts and prevents grip from being the limiting factor in terms of how much weight can be lifted. (Note that it is a good idea to switch the mixed grip for even development.)

An overhand grip is weaker overall, but can be used to strengthen your grip assembly and for similar "tuning" work.

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