I’m sure you’re aware that the main limiting factor for deadlifts is your grip.
We all typically start a deadlifting session with a double overhand grip.
However, it’s not too long before you find that your grip starts to fail.
With that being said, you know that you’ve still got plenty more in the tank.
Plus, it doesn’t feel as though you’ve even started to work your glutes, hamstrings, and posterior chain yet.
So, obviously you need to do something to continue deadlifting effectively.
And this is why you want to know whether mixed grip is better than straps.
Allow me to explain what you need to know.
Is Mixed Grip Better Than Straps?
Whether mixed grip is better than straps usually comes down to a matter of personal preference. Both options will allow you to deadlift more than the traditional double overhand grip. However, straps obviously require additional equipment, plus using straps won’t allow you to further develop grip strength. Therefore, my personal preference is the mixed grip.
1. The Pros. & Cons. of the Mixed Grip
Yes, I said it, my preference is to use the mixed grip when the weight gets too much for double overhand.
However, I know for a fact that many people will completely disagree with me.
But, everyone is entitled to their opinion.
For me, using a mixed grip allows me to lift a lot more weight.
I’ve often heard that using a mixed grip may allow you to lift a few pounds more, potentially as much as 10-30% more.
But, I can definitely lift more than this with a mixed grip.
Now, I know this actually points to a potential grip weakness, so I’ll cover this in more detail in a moment.
Not only can I lift a lot more weight with the mixed grip, it also continues to develop my grip strength.
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Plus, I have now got used to alternating my mixed grip too.
The reason that is important is that you’ll often hear that a disadvantage of using the mixed grip is that it can lead to muscle imbalances.
Basically, some people feel far more comfortable always using the same hand for their underhand grip, and vice versa
Of course, if you constantly deadlift with a mixed grip, but never alternate which hand grips over and under, then you may well end up with a muscle imbalance.
Other “Problems” With Mixed Grip
Another reason that the mixed grip gets a bad rap is that it can potentially lead to an asymmetrical lift.
You’ll often see people twist at the shoulders or spine when they use a mixed grip.
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This is obviously not great and can lead to injury.
Plus, you may even notice that one side of the bar seems higher than the other at the top of the lift.
Finally, you’ll typically hear about the potential for bicep tears when using a mixed grip.
And this will be for the bicep of the arm that uses the underhand grip.
Granted, your bicep is placed into a stretched position, which can leave it vulnerable.
However, this is far more likely to occur if you start lifting with a bend at the elbow or if you jerk the weight off the floor.
Realistically, your arms should be locked and completely straight, while you lift the weight smoothly.
2. The Pros. & Cons of Straps
Now, firstly I will say there is a place for using straps in weightlifting.
The reason I say this is that it will now probably sound as though I’m completely against them.
I’m not, but I have never used straps for deadlifting, and it’s likely I never will.
Using straps obviously allows you to maintain a double overhand grip, plus you’ll now also be able to lift more weight.
However, the main issue with using straps is that you’re no longer working your grip.
In effect, your grip could actually become much weaker over time.
Grip strength is essential when you lift weights and increased grip can actually help you lift heavier weights in the vast majority of exercises.
And I even include exercises that don’t really require grip strength, e.g. squats.
Furthermore, there is research which states that grip strength is an extremely important indicator of your overall health.
As an example, a weak grip may point to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Whereas, a strong grip may mean that you are more likely to survive certain diseases like cancer.
So, taking grip strength completely out of the equation when lifting very heavy weights could be doing you harm in the long run.
Something else to consider is that the mixed grip (and hook grip) is allowed at powerlifting meets, whereas straps are not.
3. What About the Hook Grip?
I can’t really talk about deadlift grips without mentioning the hook grip.
It’s not a grip I particularly like using, in fact, I pretty much avoid it at all costs (I have used it on no more than a couple of occasions).
Once more, there will be those who completely disagree with me, and will say that I’m missing out.
The hook grip allows you to keep an overhand grip.
However, the aim is to trap the thumb between the bar and your fingers (usually the first and second finger).
It’s obviously great that the hook grip allows you to maintain a double overhand grip, but you will need a certain pain threshold to use it.
In reality, those who use the hook grip regularly probably don’t even notice the pain, but you can guarantee it took some getting used to.
Additionally, the hook grip isn’t for everyone, and genetics will play a role.
Realistically, using the hook grip is far easier for those who have long fingers and thick palms (that counts me out then).
I will also say that the hook grip won’t make a massive difference to your deadlift numbers.
But, then again, I’m saying this from the perspective of someone who doesn’t really use it.
For me, I can probably squeeze out one extra rep or lift a few pounds more.
Is it worth it?
Not for me.
4. Should You Really Be Focusing on Your Grip Strength?
Okay, the best way to deadlift will always be with a double overhand grip.
Plus, there is actually another way to look at the use of varying grips when you deadlift.
Perhaps, this is your body’s (grip’s) way of telling you that this is the maximum weight you should be lifting.
Basically, should you really be trying to manipulate factors in order to lift more weight than you’re supposed to.
In effect, you will be lifting sub-maximal weights, so you could say that the overhand grip is there to prevent injury and place less stress on the body.
I did mention that many of us will often fail before we even start taxing our posterior chain.
And after all, the deadlift is a posterior chain exercise.
However, your posterior chain is still being trained to some extent, irrespective of how much weight you’re deadlifting.
Remember, just because you don’t “feel” it, doesn’t mean it isn’t effective.
So perhaps, it is better to deadlift the “right way” (double overhand grip) and work on increasing and improving your grip strength separately.
Develop Insane Grip Strength
So, I hope you understand that whether the mixed grip is better than using straps for deadlifts is a matter of personal opinion.
And my opinion is that mixed grip is better.
In fact, I would rather use a mixed grip over straps or the hook grip.
With that being said, there are certainly many people who have a preference for hook grip or straps.
Realistically, you should really deadlift with a double overhand grip, without altering your grip or using additional equipment.
And if your grip is the limiting factor while deadlifting (which it usually always is), it makes sense to work on improving grip strength.
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Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.