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I would say that I have a fairly strong grip. But when I pull 170 kg I feel the bar starting to slip (double overhand, no straps, no hook grip) right before lockout, so I missed the full lockout, because my strength gave in (the bar was not dropping, I was still able to set it down).

With mixed grip I pulled 3x165 kg the next day which is a greater achievement considering the predicted 1RM of 175kg.

The numbers don't matter here and are just a mere example. My question is: Can my body output more power/strength when my grip is stronger, let's say so strong that I don't even feel holding something?

Is there a study about that topic?

  • Are you using a hook grip? – Dave Liepmann Oct 21 '15 at 10:51
  • Never tried it, but it seems that I have to if I want to pull symmetrically and RAW. – Willi Mentzel Oct 21 '15 at 11:06
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Can my body output more power/strength when my grip is stronger?

Yes.

If you can't hold something, you can't pick it up. Rippetoe & Kilgore in Starting Strength mention that there is also an unconscious feedback effect, where if one's grip starts to fail, the rest of the body refuses to lift properly:

Grip strength is crucial to the deadlift, and the deadlift works grip strength better than any other major exercise. It is the limiting factor for many lifters with smaller hands or short fingers, or those that rely too much on their straps when training.

...

The back will not pull off the floor what the hands cannot hold, due to proprioceptive feedback that tells the back the weight is too heavy.

(page 207, 2nd edition)

A strong grip is paramount to lifting heavy things off the ground.

If your 1RM deadlift is failing due to grip, then I'd recommend using a lot of chalk (which takes some practice to apply correctly) and a hook grip (the thumb inside the fingers). If this doesn't help after a few sessions of practicing, then consider adding grip-specific work like static top-of-the-deadlift holds or farmer's walks.

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  • Ok, this is really interessting. Funny thing though is that I don't understand why my grip fails. I was able to one arm dead hang from a bar with a buddy attached to me for 8 seconds. All in all we weighted 155 kg together, although the bar was slightly thinner. – Willi Mentzel Oct 21 '15 at 10:59
  • I guess that also applies right before lockout (when the grip starts to fail)? – Willi Mentzel Oct 21 '15 at 12:50
  • @haywire When my grip fails because I'm not using a hook grip with chalk, it usually fails just before lockout. I can feel it before that, but that's where it messes me up. – Dave Liepmann Oct 21 '15 at 13:37
  • Exactly my problem. Will try with hook grip / mixed grip / straps in the future until my grip builds up again because I consider a double overhand non-hook grip lift the highest achievement. You know about the world record doing exactly this? – Willi Mentzel Oct 21 '15 at 14:35
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    @haywire I think the hook grip is considered too standard for a record without it to be on anyone's radar. It's just what you do. – Dave Liepmann Oct 21 '15 at 15:17
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First, some anecdotal tips.

What I've noticed is that when I'm lifting heavy, and it's quite clear that my grip is the limiting factor, I'll literally break form because I'm focusing so much on my grip that I forget to focus on the important stuff like thoracic extension, neck position, shoulder engagement, relative joint angles in the hip/knee/ankle etc.

What I can recommend is that when you know you're going heavy, and you know your grip is a potential game breaker; use straps. Yes, you lose out on the grip training a deadlift offers, but it's very easy to compensate for this by doing some grip-specific exercises afterwards.


The most relevant article I've read is this, a study of muscle activation depending on if you use a double prone (overhand) grip, or a switch-grip (over/under). And it is the reason why I prefer to use straps and continue double prone rather than change my grip position. Long story very short; the biggest takeaway I had from this report is that the over/under grip generates bilateral asymmetry. It's worth noting that it wasn't confirmed that this produces long-term asymmetries or imbalances, but I'd rather not be the first one to find out.

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  • yeah, exactly because of the asymmetry I don't like mixed as well, but on the other hand it is RAW, straps are not :( – Willi Mentzel Oct 21 '15 at 10:43
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    @haywire - True. There is greater achievement in raw deadlifts, regardless of grip. But I believe the current North-American record is held by George Leeman at just over 909lbs, and he used double-overhand. Of course when the time comes to do that 1RM of a lifetime, form pretty much flies out the window. You just get the weight up, period. – Alec Oct 21 '15 at 10:45
  • still, my question is not quite answered. what i was searching was an article about some emergency system of the body where it decreases overall strength output when the grip fails/gets weak. I remember having heard it somewhere. – Willi Mentzel Oct 21 '15 at 10:57
  • @haywire - Yeah, I couldn't find an article specifically about that, so I understand that the answer isn't the best possible one. – Alec Oct 21 '15 at 10:59
  • You made some valid points though. Thank you! +1 – Willi Mentzel Oct 21 '15 at 11:07

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