CLIENT QUESTION: WHY DO SOME PEOPLE USE A MIXED GRIP WHEN USING A BARBELL?
My client Dan is inquisitive which I encourage because clients should learn from their personal trainers, since we recently started the foundations of using a barbell in sessions and he bought himself an EZ bar for home training. He was curious why the box that his bar came in had a photograph of a man different way of holding the bar to the one I had taught him. Dan then demonstrated what is known as "mixed grip". As it's not a simple quick answer I gave him the gist and said I'd put the rest on my blog, so here goes Dan:
The mixed grip which is when one hand is (supinated/underhand) and one hand is (pronated/overhand) is a stronger and more secure setup sometimes used by intermediate and advanced lifters.
The options for what grip to use really lies in your experience with barbell exercises, how much you are planning to lift and what exercise you are referring to. With my clients I do basic barbell training outdoors with a 20kg barbell therefore I haven’t needed to train clients to use a “mixed grip” or “hook grip”.
Those new to lifting usually start with a double overhand grip: this is when your hand are wrapped around the bar facing the body and your thumbs are on either side. This is a more beginner friendly way to learn the grip for exercises such as deadlifts. The double overhand requires more force production from the muscles of the hand so is great for new lifters looking to increase their grip strength and lift enough weight to a sufficiently taxing degree.
The drawback is that the bar can sometimes roll out of your hands so you may choose to switch to a “hook grip” or “mixed grip” when you’ve taken that as far as you can.
The draw back on a mixed grip can be that the asymmetrical loading can cause injury and has earned a reputation for a high risk of bicep tears and ruptures; the bar may rotate as you lift which means you are not necessary in the optimal position to lift and may create a muscle imbalance or injury.
My preference once you’ve exhausted the double overhand grip is the hook grip, this is when you trap the thumb between the fingers and the barbell which creates a strong grip due to the extra friction of the thumb against the bar, this is what the Olympic Weightlifters use.
If you want to get to grips with some basic barbell exercise and build strength, then get in touch today and book in for a free taster session.
Photo from April 2018 practising deadlifts in the garden using an overhand grip on my 20Kg barbell I use for outdoor training which is perfect for touring East London with.