Archive for the tag - grip

Mixed Grip Deadlifts: When To Use It.

Deadlift-phase_1If you’re not doing deadlifts, you should.

They’re a great, compound exercise that works both your upper and lower body. Requiring minimal equipment and providing maximal results, the deadlift is often referred to as the king of mass building exercises.

If you have no idea what a deadlift is, then watch this helpful video.

When it comes to deadlifts, exercisers often debate different grips. Typically, there are two variations that you’ll see.

The first is the double overhand grip. This is the most common deadlift grip and it requires gripping the bar with both palms facing the lifter. If you’ve never performed a deadlift, this is the natural grip that you’d assume – and it’s a great way to start.

mixed

Example of the mixed grip.

However, when performing deadlifts, the weakest link in the chain becomes the limiting factor. And well before the back, hamstrings or glutes give out, many people can’t hold onto the bar. In other words, their progress becomes limited by grip strength.

Once grip strength becomes an issue, switching to a mixed grip may be beneficial. It requires gripping the bar with one palm facing the lifter and the other palm facing away. Though it may feel awkward at first, the mixed grip helps stabilize the bar and grip strength is often less of an issue.

Most trainers recommend using the double overhand grip until grip strength fails, and then switching to a mixed grip. Of course, the real solution is increasing grip strength; utilize forearm and grip exercises to build up strength over time. In the meantime, the mixed grip can be an effective workaround.

P.S. If you’re looking to increase muscle mass, download Size Matters: Davey Wavey’s Foolproof Guide to Building Muscle.

Wide Grip Vs. Narrow Grip Bench Press.

Mr. McMuscles demonstrates the narrow bench press grip.

The bench press is one of the most common strength training exercises around; it’s tried, true and extremely effective. Though the bench press primarily works the pectoral muscles in your chest, by changing the width of your grip, you can change the focus of the muscles being worked.

Standard Grip

Though many Olympic barbells come with etched guides for your hands, a standard grip is different from person to person. Generally, a standard grip results in a perfect 90 degree elbow angle in the starting position of the exercise. In addition to your pectoral muscles, the standard grip will also result in some activation of the deltoids and triceps.

Narrow Grip

To use a narrow grip, exercisers must start with their hands shoulder-width apart (as depicted in the accompanying photo). This is several inches closer together than in the standard grip. With this grip, and by keeping your elbows in towards your hips as you lower the bar, you shift the focus of the exercise more into the triceps.

Wide Grip

To use a wide grip, extend your hands a few inches beyond the standard grip. While widening your grip will reduce the range of motion in each repetition, the focus of the exercise will primarily be on the outer portions of your pectorals. Since this exercise puts considerable stress on shoulder joints, it’s not for everyone. In addition, it’s generally recommended that exercisers only lower the bar 3 – 4 inches from the chest – and not all the way down.

By changing your grip, you can change the focus of the muscles being exercised. But for most of us, a standard grip is safest and sufficient. Still, it’s always good to occasionally mix things up and to keep your workout fresh.

Grip Strength Training Mistake.

So you’ve started going to the gym—and you’ve even put together a workout schedule. You’re working different muscle groups on different days and allowing for proper recovery time. You’re off to a great start.

Even so, you still may have fallen victim to one of the most common mistakes that exercisers make when writing their own routines: Pairing grip-intensive exercises.

Whether you’re working your chest, arms, back, shoulders or legs, many exercises require grip strength. If you’re holding dumbbells or a barbell, then you’re engaging the muscles in your forearm and hands and using your grip strength.

As it turns out, our hand and forearm muscles aren’t as strong as our body’s major muscle groups like those mentioned above. And so if you pair exercises that make use of grip strength—i.e., pairing bench presses and dumbbell pec flies on a chest day—then you’re liking to experience grip fatigue before your pec muscles max out.

A smarter routine would pair bench presses with an exercise that gives your grip a break—like pushups. You can still do pec flies, of course, but don’t pair them with another grip-intensive exercise.

Correcting this mistake is simple and easy, but yields some really great results.

The Big Disadvantage of Weight Lifting Gloves.

Weight lifting gloves come with a price!

If you’ve ever been to a gym, you’ve probably seen men and women wearing weight lifting gloves. They are worn for a variety of reasons, but generally because they:

  1. Increase grip strength. Weight gloves make it easier to hold dumbbells and barbells while performing various exercises.
  2. Decrease calluses. Weight gloves prevent hands from becoming callused as a result of dumbbell and barbell exercises. They keep your hands silky smooth.
  3. Additional wrist support. Most weight lifting gloves wrap around the wrist and provide additional support during heavy lifting.

The benefits are admirable. But weight lifting gloves also come with a huge disadvantage: Weight lifting gloves damper real gains in grip strength. When it comes to lifting heavy boxes, changing a tire, hanging off a cliff or any other real life situation, you probably won’t have your gloves. In essence, the gloves provide a false sense of grip strength. Instead of strengthening your grip and forearms, the gloves do the work for you and prevent real gains.

For this reason, I retired my weight lifting gloves years ago. Sure, smooth hands are nice. But when I find myself hanging off the side of a 40-story building, I’ll be glad to have my grip. 🙂

Do you wear weight lifting gloves? Let me know in the comments below.

Crazy New Ab Exercise: Double Plate Press!

Truth be told, the double plate press isn’t just an ab workout. It works your chest, forearms, biceps and shoulders – but I feel most of the burn in my abs.

I freaking love it!

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Locate two identical weight plates. Start small – with 5 lb weight plates. You really don’t need a lot of weight to feel this.
  2. Press the two weights together, holding them close to your chest. The smooth side should be facing outward. This is the starting position.
  3. Extend the plates straight out in front of you, so that your arms are parallel to the floor. You’ll really need to squeeze the plates together to prevent them from slipping! This is the most challenge piece of the exercise.
  4. Pause, and then return to the starting position.
  5. If you can do more than 8 or 10 repetitions, you’ll need heavier weights. Repeat for 1 – 4 sets, depending on your goals and available time.

It’s new, it’s different and it’s a lot of fun.

Give it a try, and let me know what you think. And, if you’re up for it – browse some of my additional ab tips and exercises.

Enjoy!