Flip Your Grip for Muscle Growth
Change is good. It forces us to adapt and grow with each new situation. That's especially true when you're working out. If you're doing the same exercise routine for more than 90 days, your body has already started to get accustomed to it and probably isn't growing like it used to. You must change to grow.
One of the simplest things you can change in a workout program is your grip. By flipping your hands around and grasping bars the opposite of what you typically do, you'll start challenging your body in new ways. For some people, merely flipping their grip around is all the change they'll need to give their workouts another 30 to 60 days more life.
Remember, you're not changing the fundamental exercises; you're just changing your hand positioning. There are several exercises that you can reverse your grip on, including the barbell row, barbell bench press, dumbbell shoulder press, lat pulldown and tricep pressdown,
If you have injuries, there are some exercises that you wouldn't want to do at all, but by reversing the grip, you actually lower the risk factor. The chest and shoulders are two examples. If you have a shoulder injury such as a torn rotator cuff, by reversing the grip, you may be able to perform bench presses and overhead dumbbell presses without further damaging the muscle. Obviously, you would still have to get clearance from your doctor, but it's an option that you wouldn't have at all if you were forced to use the traditional overhand grip.
There is a downside. The biggest problem is the amount of stress flipping your grip puts on your wrists. The best way to minimize that is by using bars that position your wrists at an angle. The EZ-bar is a better choice for that than the traditional straight barbell.
A variation of the flipped grip is something called a staggered grip. That's where one hand holds the bar overhand and the other one underhand. If you use the staggered grip on exercises like barbell shrugs, your body gets two benefits.
When you use heavier weights, there can be a problem with the bar rolling out of your hands. With one hand on top twisting the bar one way and the other one underneath twisting the bar in the opposite direction, the bar is less likely to "roll" either way. (In physics, this principle is known as reverse torsion.) By using a staggered grip, you maintain a stronger hold on the bar and can concentrate on improving your form and strength.
BONUS TIP: If you have a problem holding onto the barbell, the problem may be with how you're gripping it. With a traditional hold, you're relying on your thumb to keep the bar in place. Wrist straps are one option to help you, but there's something simpler you can do. It's called the hook grip.
Start by laying your thumbs along the length of the bar. Then wrap your fingers OVER your thumb. Now, your thumb is being held in place by the other four fingers, significantly increasing the amount of force you can apply to the bar.
Just so you know, your thumb will get sore the first few times as you adjust to pressing it against the bar. But once you get used to it, you'll be hooked.
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