Improve Your Lifts | Grip Variations and How to Use Them

One of the most fundamental aspects of weightlifting and strength training is how we hold the barbell. A proper grip can significantly impact our performance, reduce the risk of injury, and promote better muscle engagement. The barbell grip is more than just wrapping your hands around the bar; it is about finding the most effective and comfortable hand position that aligns with your goals and your specific exercise.

Today, we will discuss the various barbell grip variations and how to use them effectively in your workout routine:

Barbell Grip Variations

There are many variations you can use, and here are some of the common ones:

Pronated (Overhand) Grip

The most common grip variation is the pronated or overhand grip. In this position, your palms face away from your body, and your thumbs wrap around the bar, pointing towards each other. This grip is the standard for most exercises, such as the deadlift, bent-over row, and overhead press.


  • Provides a secure grip for most pulling and pressing exercises
  • Engages the forearms, increasing grip strength and overall stability


  • May limit the amount of weight lifted in exercises like the deadlift for those with weaker grip strength

Supinated (Underhand) Grip

In a supinated grip, your palms face towards your body, and your thumbs point away from each other. This grip is commonly used in exercises like the chin-up and the barbell curl, targeting the biceps and upper back muscles.


  • Increases bicep activation in pulling exercises
  • Can reduce strain on the wrists and forearms


  • Less stable and secure compared to the pronated grip, limiting the amount of weight lifted in certain exercises

Mixed (Alternating) Grip

The mixed grip combines the pronated and supinated grips, with one hand in the overhand position and the other in the underhand position. This grip is often used in the deadlift, as it helps to prevent the bar from rolling out of your hands, allowing you to lift heavier weights.


  • Increases grip strength and prevents bar rolling
  • Allows for heavier lifts in exercises like the deadlift


  • May cause muscle imbalances if not alternated between sets or workouts
  • Increases the risk of bicep injury if not executed correctly

Hook Grip

Finally, the hook grip is a variation of the pronated grip, where the thumb is trapped between the bar and the first two fingers. Olympic weightlifters commonly use this grip for exercises like the snatch and clean and jerk, as it provides a secure grip without relying on grip strength alone.


  • Reduces the reliance on grip strength, enabling heavier lifts
  • Provides a secure and stable grip for explosive movements


  • Can be painful and uncomfortable, especially for beginners
  • May cause strain on the thumb if not executed correctly

How To Use Barbell Grip Variations

Now that you know of the types of grip variations, here's how you can use them properly:

First, choose the appropriate grip for the exercise. Each grip variation has specific benefits and drawbacks, so select the grip that best aligns with the exercise you are performing and your goals. Also, prioritise grip strength training. Regardless of which grip variation you use, strength is essential for maintaining control and stability during heavy lifts. Incorporate grip-specific exercises and tools, such as grip strengtheners, farmer's walks, and dead hangs, into your routine.

While gripping the barbells, pay attention to your grip width. The width of your grip can impact muscle engagement and lifting mechanics. For example, a wider grip in the bench press targets the chest muscles, while a narrower grip emphasises the triceps.

Finally, experiment with different grips. While some grips may be standard for certain exercises, finding what works best for you is essential. Experiment with various grip variations to determine the most comfortable, stable, and effective for your lifting style and goals.


Understanding and utilising various barbell grip variations can significantly impact lifting performance and muscle development. By incorporating the appropriate grip for each exercise, prioritising grip strength training, and experimenting with different grips, you can improve your lifting technique, reduce the risk of injury, and unlock new gains in strength and muscle growth.

Checkout the Vulcan long grips by the Training Shop  

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