How Does Deadlift Grip Influence Your Forearm Muscle Activation?

The deadlift is not only one of the best exercises for developing overall strength and power. It can also be a potent test of your grip strength.

According to a new study, how you grip the bar while deadlifting affects both your muscle activation and your potential to lift maximal loads. Twenty-nine trained athletes performed the deadlift with 50%, 70%, and 90% of their 1RM using a hook grip, a mixed grip, and a double overhand grip.1

The mixed grip was the easiest grip to use, regardless of load. This could minimize the technical difficulty of the lift and allow you to use a heavier weight. However, it also elicited the least muscle activation.

If you want to potentially improve your grip strength, you should consider using a standard double overhand grip or the hook grip instead. Those two grip variations maximized forearm muscle activation compared to the mixed grip. On the other hand, the lifters found the deadlift to be more technically challenging while using them.

  • When aiming to lift as heavy as you can: use a mixed grip.
  • When you want to improve your grip strength and maximize muscle activation: use a double overhand grip or a hook grip.

Maybe something to consider the next time you fire up your StrengthLog app for another session of Deadlift Disco?

Read more about different deadlift grips here:


  1. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2020 May 14;53:102428. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2020.102428. Online ahead of print. Forearm Electromyographic Activity During the Deadlift Exercise Is Affected by Grip Type and Sex.
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Andreas Abelsson

Andreas is a certified nutrition coach with over three decades of training experience. He has followed and reported on the research fields of exercise, nutrition, and health for almost as long and is a specialist in metabolic health and nutrition coaching for athletes. Read more about Andreas and StrengthLog by clicking here.