A Subtle Way to Train Your Grip

by Mark Haydock

Mark Haydock demonstrates a three-finger bar grip.

From my early days of training I have always applied this approach to the way I grip and load the bar, as you read on I am sure you will agree it is a subtle way to train your grip.

There are two sections to this approach, the first is simply the way the bar is gripped, the second part is loading the bar.

Gripping the bar

The idea behind this approach to grip work is to train your grip all the time, even when it is not a grip session! I will use the deadlift as the example exercise, however, the same approach can be applied to most floor pulls, lat pulldowns/rows, shrugs, etc.

Most of the grip work is actually done with your warm up and lighter poundages. The first set of deadlifts may be with an empty bar, simply grip the the bar with your index finger, the second set use index and fore fingers, next set is three fingers, next set is all four fingers – with an open hand, the bar is almost resting on your finger tips, you may be able to maintain this grip for a couple more warm up sets, depending how strong your grip is. Once you hit a poundage that you cannot hold just adjust to your normal hook or reverse grip. Over time try to tweak your warm up poundages a little, as you would with your heavy singles or 1 rep max.

Using a finger tip grip to load plates adds grip training to every workout.

Loading the bar

The subtle element here is to only use I hand to pick up the weight plates when you are loading the bar for your training. Use your right hand when loading the right side of the bar and your left hand when loading the left side of the bar. Rather than use a deadlift loading lever to lift the bar use your fee hand to lift the end of the bar, grip the bar just inside the collar. Depending how good your grip is you can use a 1, 2, 3, or 4 fingers to grip the bar, the same applies to loading the weight plate.

The one handed approach to loading the weight plate also includes carrying the weight from the storage tree to the bar! Don’t cheat by using two hands or rolling the plate. With the lighter plates, 1.25kg,2.5kg, 5kg try using 1 finger and 1 thumb, as you use heavier weights, 10kg, 15kg, 20kg, 25kg and even 50kg you may need to use 2 or 3 fingers and a thumb. If you are loading a 25kg plate and you simply can’t carry it one handed try a two handed pinch grip, it all helps!

The key thing to remember with this approach is that it is a long term project, massive grip strength doesn’t come over night. However, once you have a good grip it stays with you for the long run.

As a final testimony to my grip technique I can honestly say I have never missed a deadlift or clean due to poor grip, touch wood I have never had any real problems with my grip!