MON: Re-Think the Reason You Use (or Coach) The Deadlift

If there’s a single implementation I’ve made here that I could undue over the past seven years from a fitness perspective, it would be to undue all of the mixed grip deadlifts we’ve ever taught members to perform. Remedied in 2018, the benefits of an overhand grip far outweigh the incremental adaptation you might undergo from alternating your grip.

In and of itself, a mixed grip deadlift is not dangerous or “bad” at all. That would be nonsense. However, like any movement pattern that carries with it a natural imbalance (similar to one leg in the pull-up band), if you stack up years of repetitions performing it that way, you may begin to see some issues arise.

First, a quick step back and some insight into how injuries occur (we’ll dive deeper into this later). There are either traumatic or non-traumatic injuries. Traumatic would be dropping a barbell on your shin. It’s acute and in the moment. Non-traumatic injuries can be either onset or through overuse. A stress fracture in the foot of a runner is an overuse, non-traumatic injury. An onset, NT (non-traumatic) injury is one that creeps up one day and bites you from years of movement pattern fault. An example of this would pressing overhead with poor shoulder mobility. We do that a few times and we are fine, but through much repetition perhaps we fray the labrum bit by bit until one day, it tears. That’s onset. Poor thoracic positioning created an onset injury in the shoulder over the course of a year or two. It’s sneaky and insidious, and why it’s so important to develop slow and move well.

The onset, non-traumatic injury is where most injuries occur and this brings us back to the deadlift and the discussion point of “issues arising.” When you mix your grip you are providing internal torque with one hand and external torque with another, which causes your spine to receive rotational forces as you move a load that’s often double and sometimes triple your body weight. The spine was not built for that. Provide this type of mixed torsion on your spine over and over, and you run the risk of an onset NT injury popping up one day.

It’s not a guarantee, but you open the door which likely does not need to be opened.

I understand that the simple solution is to alternate the hand you supinate. That’s fair. But both the benefit and the issue of a mixed grip is that it allows us to lift more than we otherwise could. It’s a hack to allow more loading. My proposition is we shouldn’t be bypassing our grip loading capacity, we should be building it and lifting only loads that it will allow. A back and forth mixed grip might answer the question of uneven torsion forces but it doesn’t address the fact that we’re overriding weakness in the nervous system ill-prepared to handle it.

So. To the title of my blog and re-thinking the reason why you deadlift. Is it to get strong and be healthy? If so, a mixed grip deadlift is without question not needed for that. However, if your goal is to get as strong as possible, possibly compete, or just set some huge one-rep goals for yourself (all great goals), then a mixed grip might be a part of that equation, and you’ll just need to understand the potential cumulative effects of that decision.

You may get away with it. You may not. Knowledge is power so understand the factors at play and decide accordingly.


Monday, 6.18.18

First, for Strength.
5 Deadlifts @ 60-80%
10 Seated Rear Delt Flies
Complete 1 Set Every 4′ for 16

Then, for Conditioning.
1 KB Complex
8 Calorie Bike
(x11 Min)