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Exercise Technique - Handgrips! Choosing the right gripping technique.

Yash kaushik
Yash kaushik
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I see many people in debate over the different gripping techniques. So how to grip dumbbells, barbells or even kettlebells during different exercises? Can it affect the target muscles and effectiveness of exercises in the gym? Let’s find out!

Different Handgrips

There are mainly 5 gripping techniques in which you can hold your dumbbells/barbells.

Pronated/Overhand Grip 

Palms facing down, Knuckles facing up

Supinated/Underhand Grip 

Palms facing up, Knuckles facing down

Neutral Grip 

Palms of both hands facing each other, Knuckles point laterally (like in a handshake)

Alternate/ Mixed Grip 

One hand pronated, Another hand supinated

Hook Grip 

Similar to pronated grip. Thumb wrapped under the index and middle fingers.

Using different grips can change the biomechanics and anatomical position of the body in the same exercise. This change can result in minor differences in muscle activation and strength development of respective exercise. For example - Lat pulldowns when performed with wide grip has shown minor but greater lats and infraspinatus activation when compared to a narrow grip pulldown. Similarly, a neutral grip pulldown reduces the bicep activation compared to underhand grip pulldowns.

Closed Grip and False Grip

In all of the above grips where the thumb is wrapped around the bar are examples of closed grip. Grips, where the thumb does not wrap around the bar, are known as false grip.

The closed grip is safer and ensures more stable gripping. However, the false grip has its advantages in various exercises where the wrist or elbow mobility are limiting factors. For example - During a bench press, if you encounter pain in your elbows trying to maintain elbows tucked-in then switching to false grip may help. Similarly, for exercises like the low back squat where we try to keep our elbows tucked-in whilst creating a shelf (rear delt) for the bar to set, many might feel pain in the wrist due to poor mobility, a false grip makes it easier to hold the bar stable for longer.

Takeaway message

There are mainly 5 different handgrips that you can use as variations for different exercises. Changing the way you grip impacts the biomechanics and muscle activation. Choose the right grip for all your exercises according to your goals, preferences, program demands, or injuries. Try out different grips for the same exercises to get the feel of them all. Choose wisely between closed and false grip according to the need for the lift. Stability and safety should be of utmost priority!



That’s all that you need to know about handgrips!

Yash Kaushik | Fittr Coach