Do you find yourself doing the same exercises often, just because you love them so much, or because you know they are a killer exercise and targets more than one muscle group, so you’re getting a good bang for your buck?
Well, I have some good news for you. You can still continue to do those exercises that you love so much, and avoid a plateau, just by changing your grip.
Grip plays a very important role in your exercises. Think of a lat pulldown. Normally, you’d be sitting, reach up, and grab a hold of the bar with a wide grip and palms facing away from you. This grip is called the Overhand grip. This is the normal grip that most people reach for when performing a lat pulldown. This grip will target your lat muscles as you pull down the weight.
Now, if you reach up, grab the bar with your palms facing you, and keep your palms about shoulder width apart, now you’re targeting a completely different muscle in your back, your rhomboids.
See how grip can make the difference, even though it’s the same exercise. If someone were always doing wide grip, overhand lat pulldowns, you’d be completely missing an important muscle group.
Why Change Grips?
There are many different reasons as to why someone should change their grip, such as;
+ to target a different muscle, or a different area within a muscle
+ tearing new muscle fibers, which creates new growth opportunities
+ to get BIGGER MUSCLES which BURN MORE CALORIES (aka; tearing more muscle fibers)
+ avoiding a plateau by constantly keeping your body guessing (your body will never know what to expect if you’re constantly changing things)
+ to become stronger (think bicep curls; reverse curls are a LOT harder than a regular curl, but often missed. Working on gaining strength using the reverse curl will cause the regular bicep weight to go up too!) It’s like a two in one BONUS!
+ to never be bored with what you’re doing (So you can keep doing the exercises you love!)
Also known as; palms facing your body, pronated grip.
The overhand grip is the most popular grip used in the fitness industry. This is when you simply grip a barbell/dumbbell/machine with your palms facing your body.
For example, let’s look at the exercise; Bent Over Row.
The bent over row is an excellent exercise which generally targets the upper back. You can easily target a specific area by simply changing your grip from the underhand to an overhand grip.
DUMBBELL BENT OVER ROW USING OVERHAND GRIP
BENT OVER BARBELL ROW USING OVERHAND GRIP
Completing the bent over row with an overhand grip focuses on the latissimus dorsi, along with the rhomboids major. Using the overhand grip, targets the outer back (the lats) while still hitting the centre of the back (the rhomboids).
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Also known as; palms facing away from your body, reverse grip, supinated grip.
The underhand grip is when you simply place your hands around the bottom of the bar/dumbbell/machine and grip firmly with your palms facing away from your body.
Now, let’s take a look at the bent over row using an underhand grip.
BENT OVER DUMBBELL ROW USING UNDERHAND GRIP
BENT OVER BARBELL ROW USING UNDERHAND GRIP
Completing the bent over row with an underhand grip targets the rhomboids minor and major, along with the trapezius upper and middle muscles. Using an underhand grip, focuses on your inner (the rhomboids major and the trapezius middle) and upper back (the trapezius upper and the rhomboids minor).
Even though both grips work the back muscles, you can see how the different grips target a specific area within the back. Let’s say you’re working your back, but focusing on your lat muscles. You can grip using an overhand grip while performing most of the exercises.
If you’re working back, but focusing on your rhomboids and traps, you can perform most of your exercises using an underhand grip, to really capture more muscle tears in the centre of your back.
This one is a funny one, because on many exercises, there really isn’t a neutral grip.
Let’s say you’re holding a dumbbell in each hand, while standing. Hold the dumbbells with your palms facing each other, this the neutral position. An example would be when you’re performing dumbbell hammer curls.
The next time you workout, try using different grips. This can be done with almost any exercise. Really, you’d be pretty shocked to see how you can’t lift as much weight, or you can lift even more just by changing the way you’re performing the exercise. Think of a barbell stiff-legged deadlift. When I do this exercise, I normally use an overhand grip, but sometimes I’ll use one hand overhand and one hand underhand.
Machines are another great way to switch your grip. Most people tend to perform the exercise as shown on the diagram attached to the machine. Forget about the diagram; if there’s a way to change the grip, try it out. Not every machine you’re able to do this, but as you begin to change your grips, you’ll soon come to realize different ways to perform the exercises.
Do you find yourself using a specific grip more often?
What’s your favourite barbell exercise?