Get A Grip

Strengthen your hold to make sure your sets never end too soon


What do golf, motocross, baseball, tennis and bodybuilding all have in common? Grip strength is crucial for success in each of these sports. In weight training, your grip can make the difference between seven reps and 10, between using 225 and 275 pounds, or, to cut to the chase, between stagnation and growth. If your grip gives out before the targeted muscles do, you’re forced to shorten your set, and you likely won’t stimulate any development.

This month, H.U.G.E.™ examines methods, exercises and tools designed to help you hold on to the weight longer and thus grasp greater gains.


Often, the exercise dictates the grip you use. For example, a barbell curl is always done underhand, just as a reverse curl is always done overhand. In other exercises, such as rows, you can go either overhand or underhand, with each style altering the angle of pull. However, in curls or rows, you may still choose to deviate by using, say, a thumbless grip instead of the standard closed grip. These are the major grip styles.

  • Overhand (a.k.a. pronated) The palm faces backward at the start of a reverse curl and forward at the start of a pulldown or bench press.
  • Underhand (a.k.a. supinated) The palm faces forward at the start of a curl and backward at the start of a pulldown or bench press.
  • Parallel (a.k.a. thumbs up) The palm faces your central axis. Both palms face each other if two hands are used at once.
  • Mixed (a.k.a. staggered) One hand is overhand and the other is underhand. This provides a more secure grip for deadlifts. To prevent biceps injuries, alternate which hand is underhand and which is overhand each set.
  • Closed

    This is the standard method of finger placement, with the thumb wrapped around the bar in the opposite direction of the fingers (thumb overhand if fingers are underhand, thumb underhand if fingers are overhand) and positioned alongside the index finger.

  • Thumbless (a.k.a. false) The thumb points in the same direction as the fingers. This grip is often favored in lifts like rows, pulldowns and pushdowns to better focus on the muscles being trained. During some lifts, such as chest presses, you should avoid this grip — the bar is more likely to slip from your palms, and the potential for injury is great.
  • Hook In this variation of a closed grip, the thumb is angled inward on the bar, and the index and middle fingers are placed on top of it (and the bar); the other two fingers are wrapped around the bar as usual. The thumb works harder than in a closed or thumbless grip, and the index and middle finger apply pressure to both the thumb and the bar. Olympic lifters favor this grip. At first, it’ll probably feel less secure and more painful, but with practice, the thumb-finger interaction makes this a strong hold.
  • Thumb lock This is a variation of the hook grip. Here, the end of the thumb is placed between the index and middle fingers. This can also be a more secure (and painful) grip.
  • Reverse hook In yet another variation of the hook, the thumb is over the index finger and squeezing against the middle finger. This is another potentially strong hold.

Click NEXT PAGE to see how to train your grip..