Hands Slip When Deadlifting
If you're training for a powerlifting competition, deadlifts are an essential exercise. Even if you're not a competitive lifter, and just looking to increase strength and build muscle, then they're a great choice for building your lower back, hamstrings, glute and core muscles. However, one aspect that many people struggle with when deadlifting is the grip. When you pull a heavy deadlift, you may find your hands slipping, which limits the amount you can lift. When this happens, it's time to introduce grip training into your routine.
The first issue to address is your technique. According to competitive powerlifter Matt Ladewski, your grip can slip at the top of a deadlift if your hands are too narrow, and scraping against your legs. In this case, try widening your grip. Josh McMillan, holder of an 804 lbs deadlift, advises rolling the bar in your hands before you pull to get the best grip possible and squeezing the bar as hard as you can.
Chalk and Straps
Sometimes your hands will slip on the bar because of sweat. The best solution for this is to use chalk. Chalk draws all the moisture from your skin, giving you a much firmer grip. If your gym doesn't allow chalk, you could try using wrist wraps instead. These are made from tough cotton, and wrap around your wrists and the bar, helping to secure the bar in place. However, if you compete in powerlifting competitions, wrist straps aren't allowed, so they will only benefit you if you're training purely for strength and muscle growth.
Grip Assistance Exercises
More often than not, your slipping hands will be due to a grip weakness. To strengthen your grip, James Smith of Diesel Crew Strength and Conditioning recommends implementing thick bar training into your program. Try doing exercises like bench presses, rows and shrugs with a fat bar. If your gym doesn't have thick bars, wrap a towel around a normal Olympic barbell. According to Joe DeFranco, owner of DeFranco's Training in New Jersey, farmers walks are another exercise you should be doing for your grip. You can do these using specialized farmers walk handles, or with dumbbells or kettlebells. Use moderately heavy weights, and try to walk with them in your hands as far as possible. As you get stronger, increase the weights and aim to walk further. Do one grip-based session per week.
Combine grip training and deadlifts with different deadlift variations. A double overhand grip, with both hands facing towards your is tougher on your grip, so deadlift like this as often as possible. Alternatively, try rack pulls. These are deadlifts with the bar in an elevated position. Set the pins in a power rack to just below knee height, place the bar across them, and pull from there. You can use a heavier weight on rack pulls than on traditional deadlifts, which overloads the exercise and enables you to use more weight, giving your grip a real test. Perform rack pulls instead of regular deadlifts once every three workouts.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.