By Blake and Gwen Beckom
Making small changes to your lifting routine is important so you are making sure to target all of your muscles, no matter how small they might be.
If you don’t change around your exercise schedule, you may end up with performance plateaus, muscle imbalances, slow (if any) gains, and injuries from overworking one part of your body — and there is nothing more frustrating than putting forth significant effort to exercise and never seeing any results.
Some people do complete workout makeovers every few months in order to avoid these possible dangers. They either change all of their exercises to new ones or they change up their workout models, like going from high intensity interval training to weightlifting. However, you could also take a much simpler and more effective approach by making smaller changes in your current workout, such as switching up your grip on some exercises.
Weightlifting is most commonly done overhand when doing a pullup or a deadlift, and underhand when doing a chin-up or curls. Some other possible grips include alternated (where one hand is overhand and the other is underhand) or a neutral grip, where both palms are facing each other, such as when you are doing a hammer curl.
While you may not think it is too important, your grip when weightlifting really matters. In fact, even slight variations in the position of your grip while you’re lifting weights can alter the muscles you’re targeting. For example, when you are doing curls with dumbbells, using a typical underhand grip will work out your biceps, however, if you rotate your hands just a bit in order to have a neutral grip, the strain will shift to a different part of your elbow, and if you rotate your hands 90 degrees to an overhand grip, you’ll target a completely different part of your elbow. So while your grip might seem like a very minor thing when it comes to your weightlifting, it can actually make a huge difference in your results.
In order to avoid a plateau or an injury, switch up your grip every once in a while. Especially change your grip for exercises that seem too easy or you haven’t noticed any significant improvement for a month or more. For example, if your chin-ups are exactly where they were six weeks ago, switch your grip to a pullup, which will relieve the work of your biceps, but force your back muscles to put forth some effort. Or, if you are still lifting the same amount of weight in your biceps curl, change it up for a hammer curl, which will target the main flexor in your elbow. If your regular overhand grip doesn’t work well for you anymore when you are doing a barbell row, reverse your grip, which will immediately increase your load and trigger new muscles to gain strength. However, you want to make sure to always be smart with your heavy loaded movements like your presses, because doing these without proper form can quickly lead to an injury.
When you’re weightlifting, very small changes can produce larger results than you may think. Just make sure that you are still lifting your weights in a proper form, no matter which angle your grip is in. You don’t want to put yourself at risk of injury, but you can try to figure out a healthy way to target muscles that you may not even know are being neglected by changing your grip.
Remember, don’t worry if you can’t lift as much weight or do as many reps with an exercise when you change your grip. You are exercising new muscles, so it will take a while to catch up to the muscles that are used to your lifting regime. Don’t try to do too much too quickly, it can easily result in injury, leaving you unable to lift weights at all. Take it slow and make sure that whatever you are doing feels right for your body.
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