If you want to build strong back and shoulders, develop muscle and improve your shoulder/elbow health, you better be thinking about hand positions when you train. Particularly on pulling exercises such as seated rows, Lat pulldowns and chin ups.
If you’re serious about training and you aren’t using different hand positions then at best you are missing out on serious amounts of potential growth and strength gain, at worst you are setting yourself up for an over use injury such as tendonitis.
So let’s have a look at the different grips that will add greater variety to your training and new stimulus for your body to develop. How the hand is positioned will affect which muscles are recruited most in the forearm and around the elbow joint, but also which muscles are recruited in the upper arm, shoulder and back as well. The three primary hand positions are called supinated, pronated and neutral.
Our personal trainers are big fans of the neutral grip. It is usually your strongest grip as you are able to activate both your bicep brachii and brachioradialis of the upper arm, this allows for greater load and therefore greater recruitment of the muscles in the back. A neutral grip allows for a greater range of motion and is also the most joint friendly, for these reasons we start the majority of new clients with a neutral grip.
A supinated grip is where the palm is up. This is your second strongest hand position and puts the biceps through a great stretch. It offers a good variation on the neutral grip and will change the muscle fibre recruitment of the back. One point of caution is that if a client has very restricted external rotation of the shoulders then it can put excessive ‘shear force’ through the elbow joint and cause injury ( if this is the case then you will need to stick to a neutral grip and work on shoulder mobility ).
A pronated grip is where the palms are facing down. This tends to be your weakest grip as the rotation of the forearm puts the biceps in an unfavorable position. That being said a pronated grip allows for a great line of pull for the muscles of the back allowing for better activation of the lats and trapezius muscles.
Together with the position of the hand you can also vary the width of the grip from narrow to medium to wide all of which provide a different stimulus.
At CoActive we provide as many of this grip variations as possible to make sure our clients get the fastest and safest results.
We’ve just invested in a set of MAG (Maximum Advantage Grip) Bars. These bars give us many of the different hand positions and bar lengths that are so important but also place the hands in a different position to regular bars. Due to their unique shape the mag bars allow you to keep your wrists in partial flexion, this puts the hand in a stronger position and also takes strain away from the joints of the elbow and shoulder. This ultimately leads to greater grip strength with less chance injury. Give them a try next time you want a great back workout!