Overhand vs Underhand Grip for Deadlifts: Which is Best for Back
The deadlift is often considered to be the ultimate measure of total body strength exercise because of the large number of muscle activated during the lift. Along with the bench press and squat, the deadlift is one of the best exercises a lifter can do for overall size and strength. The deadlift effective works the legs, back, hips, arms, and shoulders.
Researchers examined muscle activation and relative joint angles during a conventional deadlift while using either a double‐pronated or overhand/underhand grip. Ten weight‐trained individuals performed the deadlift with 60% and 80% of their 1‐repetition maximum, with three different grip variations. EMG recordings were taken of the left and right biceps brachii, brachioradialis, upper trapezius, and upper latissimus dorsi.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that an overhand/underhand grip, significant bilateral asymmetry was seen in EMG activity of biceps brachii and brachioradialis. This means the force was unevenly distributed between the two arms.
The biceps brachii of the supinated hand (palms facing away from the body) with this type of grip is significantly more active than when it is pronated (hands facing toward the body). In addition to the biceps brachii, the brachioradialis also exhibits changes in muscle activation when using an over/underhand grip compared to a double‐overhand one. At a lower intensity, using an overhand, underhand grip caused the brachioradialis to be less activated than when a double overhand grip is used.Mean wrist and elbow angle also showed significant bilateral asymmetry when using an overhand/underhand grip. Training recommendations for the overhand/underhand grip deadlift should emphasize the need to vary which hand is supinated/pronated to avoid muscle imbalances and possible injury. Furthermore, it may be preferential to use a double‐pronated grip because the study found that using a overhand/underhand grip resulted in asymmetric training altogether.