Regripping the bar between Deadlift reps isn’t cheating. But it isn’t effective for Deadlifting heavy. Regripping the bar makes the weight harder to Deadlift. You lose stretch reflex. If you must regrip the bar between Deadlift reps, you gripped it wrong or must strengthen your grip.
On StrongLifts 5×5 you Deadlift 1×5 – one set of five reps. Between each rep you should rest about a second at the floor. No need to regrip the bar. Keep your hands on the bar while you get tight for your next rep. Then pull the weight from a dead stop.
Regripping on Deadlifts Kills Stretch Reflex
The longer you wait between your Deadlift reps, the more stretch reflex you lose. Stretch reflex is energy stored in your muscles when you lower the weight. Your hamstrings and glutes stretch on the way down of Deadlifts. Your leg muscles contract harder after this stretch, on the way up. This is the stretch reflex. It’s why your first Deadlift rep is harder than the second one. There’s no way down on rep one, no stretch reflex.
Some Deadlifters try to get a stretch reflex on the first rep by starting with straight legs before dropping their hips. World Champion Andy Bolton does this: his hips are high when he sets up for Deadlifts. He then drops his hips right before he pulls the bar. I do this too on heavy Deadlift sets and it boosts strength. The challenge is timing: get it wrong and you’ll mess up your form. You need experience before trying this.
Stretch reflex is not cheating. When you Squat or Bench Press, you also use the stretch reflex. Every rep starts at the top. You lower the weight then come back up. The way down stretches your leg muscles on Squats and your chest/arm muscles on Bench Press. These muscles contract harder on the way up which increases how much you Squat and Bench Press. The stretch reflex isn’t cheating, it’s more effective lifting.
Stretch reflex is also not the same as bouncing your Deadlifts. If you bounce the weight off the floor between your Deadlift reps, the rebound gets the bar from floor to mid-shin. Bouncing takes work away from your muscles. It turns your Deadlifts into half reps. The bottom is all plate rebound. The stretch reflex is different: you’ll lift the weight more easily. But your body does all the work. Bouncing is bad, stretch reflex good.
Regripping between Deadlifts makes the next rep harder. Every second you waste to regrip the bar between reps, is lost stretch reflex. If you try to regrip quickly, you can grip the bar wrong (mid-palm) and tear a callus. If you take your time to regrip properly, your grip will be better on the next rep, but the weight will feel harder because you lost stretch reflex. You could fail the next rep regardless of the regrip. Regripping is a trade-off.
I rarely regrip the bar between Deadlift reps. If my grip fails, I’ll try to finish the set using the monkey grip (see below). If that doesn’t work or feels too risky, I’ll regrip. But I won’t stand up to gather myself. I stay at the bottom, regrip tight, big breath, tight lats and finish the set. I hate regripping though because it makes the next rep harder than the first one. On top of the lost stretch reflex, I’m not fresh like on the first rep.
Try The Monkey Grip Before Regripping
With the monkey grip, the bar rests in your fingers unsupported by your thumbs. When your grip fails on Deadlifts, your thumbs always fail first. Your fingers should be strong enough to hold the bar for a few more seconds without your thumbs there to help. Those extra seconds is often all you need to finish your set. The monkey grip gives you those extra seconds. And unlike regripping, they don’t make the next rep harder.
The monkey grip is less safe than the full grip for Deadlifts. The bar can roll out of your hands without your thumbs holding it. If you lose the bar, it can damage your floor, plates and the bar itself. If you train in a gym, the staff won’t be happy if you drop the bar. And if you drop it from your thighs, the bar can hit your knees on the way down. Hitting your kneecaps hurts. I don’t want to scare you, the monkey grip has risks.
I’m mentioning the monkey grip anyway because it has helped me finish Deadlift sets multiple times. If my grip fails, regrip is last resort because it makes then next set harder. I always try to finish the set using the monkey grip first. Usually I get it. But if it feels like I might lose the bar, I regrip. Use your good judgement. If the monkey grip sounds too risky, regrip. But keep in mind the next rep will be harder than the first one.
The monkey grip can cause new, painful calluses. The bar will roll down and pinch the skin on the middle bone of your fingers. Calluses will form to protect your skin, and it may hurt. My right index and middle fingers are affected most (they face up when I mix grip). Chalk or shaving the calluses doesn’t stop pain. My solution to lift heavy pain-free is to wrap a small piece of nose tissue around my index finger. This stops skin folding.
Grip The Bar Right to Avoid Regripping
Your grip will fail mid-set if you grip the bar wrong when you Deadlift. Don’t grip the bar in the middle of your palm. The skin between your fingers and palm will fold under the bar. The bar will pinch this skin and pull on your calluses. This will hurt. You’ll relax your grip to relieve pain. But then the bar rolls down, out of your hands and you have to regrip between reps. Grip the bar properly on Deadlifts so you don’t lose it.
- Grip low hand. Put the bar low in your palm, close to your fingers, on top of your main calluses. This stops the bar from pinching your skin and calluses, and from squeezing the nerves, meat, bones in your hands. It will feel weird at first, give it time.
- White knuckle the bar. Squeeze the bar hard. This stops the bar from moving in your hands and sliding down. It also increases strength on Deadlifts by engaging surrounding muscles more (hyper radiation). Squeeze the bar until your knuckles turn white.
- Use chalk. Chalk absorbs sweat and increases friction. You instantly increase your grip strength for Deadlifts if you chalk your hands. Get gym chalk, magnesium carbonate (not baby powder, not boardchalk). If your gym forbids chalk, get liquid chalk. It leaves no traces.
- Go mixed grip. If you can’t hold the bar with a normal grip on your first rep, rest three minutes, then try again with the mixed grip. Grip the bar like a baseball bat: one hand up, one down. This stops the bar from rolling in your hands and boosts grip strength.
If you’ve tried all of this, and your grip still fails on Deadlifts, then your grip is weak. Don’t use straps but strengthen your grip. Do static holds at the end of each set. Hold the weight at the top of your last set for ten seconds before bringing it back down. This boosts your grip strength for Deadlifts by increasing time under tension. If you’d like more info, read my guide on how to increase grip strength for Deadlifts.
Also, I’ve put a quick guide together with the grip training routine I’ve used to Deadlift 225kg mixed grip and 5x160kg double overhand. It’s a simple grip training routine that doesn’t take more than five minutes in the gym. You don’t need to get extra equipment or do more exercises. If you’d like to download this simple grip training routine for Deadlifts, share this article below to get instant access.