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Athlean-X gives tips for a better grip when pulling exercises



Heavy pull exercises like deadlifts, rows, and pull-ups require a strong grip – according to Athlean-X’s Jeff Cavaliere CSCS, a simple but common mistake could be holding back your gains with these types of moves. In a recent YouTube video, Cavaliere explains the flaw in grip technique that can negatively impact performance in the gym and cause pain elsewhere in the arm.

“If you’ve ever made a heavy pulling motion, you’ve likely been struggling with medial elbow pain,” he says. “It feels like someone is driving a knife right into your elbow.”

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This is due to the flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS), a muscle that extends from the interphalangeal joints of the ring finger and little finger to the medial elbow. And since the ring finger is the one that puts the greatest pressure when the hand is in a gripped position, it means that it is putting the most tension on the FDS.

“This is a thin muscle that cannot take heavy loads on its own,” says Cavaliere, who recommends adjusting the grip to reduce the dominance of the ring finger. With a pull-up bar, this means holding the bar closer to your palm to avoid overloading your fingers. When you stand under the pull-up bar, you should be able to see your knuckles, but not your finger joints.

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If you’re doing a chin-up with an underhand grip, the opposite is true. You want to see the finger joints as this means you have your hand safely over the bar. Either way, keep in mind that the further you are in a set, and the more tired you get, your hand can slide down and the more pressure you put on your fingers. (This advice applies to barbell workouts too. Keeping the bar as close to the palm of your hand as possible can reduce elbow problems and improve your performance.)

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Another tip to minimize the contribution of the fourth finger is to wrap a ribbon around the bar and place the ring finger and pinky on the ribbon. This shifts focus and lets the remaining fingers do most of the grip work.

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