Yesterday I tried deadlifts with hook grip and the experience was so different from what I'm used to that it felt like a new exercise. I'm hoping to compare notes with anybody else who has tried this.
I have DOMS in my hamstrings today, for the first time in a year.
The only thing I know about DOMS is that it happens the first time you really push a muscle hard. This would suggest my hams have not been doing their share for a looooong time. This even though I only made 3 reps on 5+ day yesterday.
Which leads to...
Totally Different Feel
I don't know how to explain this without rambling, but I'll try. When I'm adding weight during warmups and sets on deadlifts, I can feel every pound that gets added to the bar. On each new set the bar feels dramatically heavier than the last, even when I can do the reps. This is why I've sometimes described deads as "the life draining out of me through my feet."
But with hook grip, not counting the agonizing pain in my thumbs, the feel of the exercise never changed. It was suddenly exactly like bench, press, and squat: I could either lift the weight or I couldn't. No grunting, howling or other theatrics. This leads me to believe I must have been cheating for a long time on higher weights in ways my training buddies could not spot.
When I started the warm-ups with hook grip, I told myself that if it hurt my thumbs too badly on the top set I could just do mixed grip for a few reps. Well, after 3 reps with hook grip @300# I switched to mixed grip expecting to do 3 more and suddenly the bar was dramatically heavier, much more I think that can be attributed to fatigue during the set. I finished the one rep and said "never again." To confirm how much the grip mattered, I waited three more minutes and did two more at 300# with hook grip, and that 3-tons-in-my-hands feeling was gone.
I think it was Rippetoe in SS that said something like, "The legs will refuse to lift what the hands are saying they cannot hold." This certainly is ringing true very loudly, as it seems to me that:
1) Conventional overhand is the hardest grip to use, but the least painful
2) Mixed overhand reduces the grip strength issue but does not eliminate it, so you can do more, but...
3) Hook grip changes it so dramatically that you can lift more and it is much easier to maintain form and avoid cheating.
The only catch is agonizing pressure on your thumbs. But hey, its over as soon as the set is over.
Is anybody else using hook grip, or has anybody else had a similar experience?
Vague goals beget vague methods