Day 14 – Get a grip! (Part 2)

Posted: March 24, 2011 in Bill Starr 5x5 Intermediate Programme
Tags: , , , , ,

Another day, another Deadlift…

The  midweek 5×4 – Squats, military press and Deadlifts.

Throughout the day, I’d been very excited for the gym session (as usual), but just prior to the session I found myself slumping somewhat. I’d had my caffeine, eaten my food and drank my water…I’d even slept well. The problem was timing…I’d drank little through the day and essentially “binged” an hour prior to the session. The lesson is simple…regarding hydration, it’s better to be gradual than cram yourself full of fluid. Guess I was just bloated!

The gym was empty, sparing one guy who was using a rack on the far right (training for aesthetics, but training intelligently, so minimal judgement). There were plenty of weights missing, so we had to essentially “rebuild” the rack. One day, honestly, I’m going to make you all regret your laziness.

We began with the squats, focusing on depth, technique, etc – the secondary reason behind the light midweek squats (primary being active recovery).

Next up – military press. More progress here, but it’s getting particularly hard in the last set. I certainly don’t feel as though I’m getting in as much vertical push work as I should be – something we’ll remedy after this programme is finished. Technique began to slip (though still within acceptable boundaries) on the last 2/3 repetitions.

Deadlifts. The session brought forth some interesting realizations about grip strength…

As we’ve been saying before, it’s our grip strength that had been limiting us of recent times, with the Deadlift. We both felt as though our posterior chain could’ve handled a lot more than our grip would allow us to, so the additional work we’ve been doing has been of a grip theme (slow eccentric pull ups, the tennis ball routine).

However, one of the points I kept coming across in researching grip training methods was that there are a few variables in Deadlift grip in particular – mainly a double pronated grip or an over/under approach. I’ve always advocated the mixed grip as the bar feels a lot more stable, but what I hadn’t been paying attention to was the switch. I’ve always had my right hand under and my left hand over. This might not matter if you’re competing in competitive lifting as you’re not required to perform Deadlifts with an over/under AND under/over method (i.e. left over, right under and right over, left under) – but for someone who is lifting to develop strength in a more general fashion (to apply to other sports/daily life), you’re better cycling the grips in order to prevent too much of an imbalance…though one will always be stronger than the other.

For the day 14 session, I decided to switch up my own grip (going from right under to right over and vice versa). I discovered that the lift (from a grip point of view) was actually a bit easier. That’s because the overhand grip is actually a bit harder than the underhand, therefore by switching, my right hand (dominant, strong hand) had the harder job. Therefore the left hand (weaker) had an easier job than usual. It’s good news, but as far as the rep max testing is concerned, I’m unsure as to which grip I’ll use and may in fact try both. Regardless, as is usual with the Deadlift, I found myself leaving feeling overly content and motivated. Ross sang the same tune.

Of course, we’re still making actual grip strength gains in other pieces of work, which plays a major part in the development of the Deadlift.

In the end, my lack of motivation initially didn’t stop me getting through the day’s work. I’m in the habit now of training when I really feel as though the day’s work will be poor – as long as the work is finished with apt technique, you can say you’ve achieved something. In fact, feeling as though the session will be poor and performing the workout gives you more than just the physical gains – it’s a huge confidence booster. At your least motivated, you can still perform! It also highlighted the importance of having a plan when you get to the gym…give yourself a standard, meet it, progress.


A friend of mine recently told me that my last post made her scared to go to the gym. This wasn’t quite my intention…my intention was to ensure you’re not being a dick when you do go to the gym…dicks don’t make progress, they just become bigger dicks. Set a goal, make an intelligent plan that will ensure you reach that goal, follow it through with 100% effort, consistency and vigor then reap the benefits. Reach goal, reset goal, repeat. You can take that into the rest of your life too.

That friend is called Catriona Rother.

Now, she’s famous. (Or at least she will be someday)


All in the day’s work:

– Hydrate yourself gradually throughout the day
– Switch your grip every now and then on the Deadlift (I’d recommend doing it set for set)
– Feel like today will suck? Train (with a plan).



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s