Pronation & Supination refer to the positioning of your hands while holding dumbbells, barbells or while simply doing pull-up exercise. Each variation serves its own purpose to help you get the most out of your workouts and activate different muscles. By changing your grip, you shift the focus on the muscles and even the type of training stimulus being supplied.
Pronated grip means that your palms face away from your body
Supinated grip means that your palms face your body
Overhand Grip aka Standard or Pronated Grip
This is the most commonly used grip, in which the palms face the body and the thumb is wrapped around the bar, falling just over the fingertips. It works well for anything from bench press to bent-over row to standard pull-ups and strict deadlift.
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When to use a pronated grip: You can use a closed-pronated grip for pretty much every lift that you perform in the gym. I would recommend this for many of the pressing movements and for stability during the squat.
- Bench press
- Shoulder press
- Barbell squat
Underhand Grip aka Supinated Grip
Supinated Grip is the opposite of the standard overhand grip. The hands are placed underneath the bar so the knuckles aim backward or toward the floor. The thumb being wrapped around the bar allows for maximum grip throughout any lift you are performing.
When to use a supinated grip: You can use a closed-supinated grip as a variation for many of the main vertical and horizontal pulling movements.
- Inverted row
- Bent-over row
- Lat pulldown
Why does grip matter? Did you know even slight variations in hand position during a lift can totally change which #muscles are targeted. Take the dumbbell curl, for example. Using the standard supinated grip targets your biceps, but if you rotate your hands 90 degrees to a neutral grip, the emphasis shifts to a different elbow flexor, the brachialis. If you rotate your hands 90 degrees again (to a pronated grip), you’ll target yet another elbow flexor – the brachioradialis.
When choosing a grip, go with what makes sense to you. For many exercises, you have a variety to choose from. This just adds more options to your training regimen. By simply switching the grip, you are essentially switching up the exercise as well. Play around with them and see which one feels best!