Overhand is when your palms are facing away from you when gripping the bar. Overhand grip is used typically when doing back exercises like chin ups, lat pull down or barbell row and it is also used when doing bicep exercises like reverse curls. When using the overhand grip you are also working the wrist extensor muscles (muscles on top of the forearm) especially when doing reverse curls.
Underhand grip is when your palms are facing towards you on certain exercises. Underhand is used mostly when doing bicep exercises such as barbell bicep curls and reverse grip chin-ups. It can also be used to do back exercises such as reverse grip barbell row and underhand lat pull down. The only down side to using the underhand grip when doing back is it does get the biceps pretty involved when lifting the weight.
Hammer grip is mainly used when doing bicep curls but may also be used when doing chin ups. Hammer grip is when the palms of your hand are facing each other. When using a hammer grip the wrist extensors are involved a lot more due to how the wrist is positioned. The only negative aspect with hammer grip is if you have weak wrist extensors they will fatigue before your biceps. Therefore do hammer grip as last exercise in your routine.
Alternate grip is when one hand is under and one hand is over (usually strong hand over weak hand under.) Alternate grip is rarely used in the gym but is primarily used when doing deadlifts and maybe chin-ups. The theory is when using an alternate grip (especially with the deadlift) is that the trainer can lift a lot more weight.
The false grip is a pretty common grip mostly when doing bench press. I don’t know why trainers tend to use this grip due to the fact that it is the most dangerous grip to use. Normally when gripping the bar with bench press you wrap your thumb around the bar and rest the bar in the palm of your hand. A false grip is slightly different, instead of wrapping your thumb around the bar you rest your thumb along the bar (like your giving a sideways thumbs up.) The danger with this is that there is nothing stopping the bar from rolling off the palm of your hand and land on your chest. I recommend using a false grip on machine exercises only.
Hook grip is used mostly when doing power cleans, snatch and maybe when doing deadlifts. To do a Hook grip you wrap your thumb around the bar and with your index, big and ring finger you pin your thumb to the bar. This helps hold the bar in place when doing power exercises like the clean and jerk. The only negative aspect of the hook grip is if you’re not used to it then you will probably end up losing a lot of skin off your thumb at first.
A wide grip is a grip that is wider than shoulder width. When using a wide grip for a bench press you are minimising the amount of tricep involvement and maximising the chest involvement. When doing a wide grip bicep curl you are involving more the inner (short) head of the bicep. Wide grip chin ups involves a lot more bicep than lats. It all depends on what you want to do and what your goals are.
When using a close grip (like the wide grip) you are using slightly different muscles. Close grip bench press minimises chest involvement and maximises the tricep involvement. Close grip lat pull down minimises back and maximises bicep and wrist extensor involvement. Close grip bicep curl works the outer head of the bicep more than the short head.
As you can see there are so countless different styles of grips to become familiar with once working out in the gym. I hope this article has given you a few pointers on what they do and what exercises they are worthy for and what the differences are.
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Author: Matt D’Aquino