Facing your palms away from your body when performing a resistance exercise is a technique known as a pronated grip. Your hand goes over the bar, dumbbell, or kettlebell with your knuckles on top.
A pronated grip is often used for bicep curls, pullups, and barbell squats. It’s also used for bench and shoulder presses, as well as for lifts such as the snatch, deadlift, and clean.
Using proper grip while exercising is just as important as having proper form, posture, and breathing techniques. Let’s take a closer look at some exercises that are done with a pronated grip and why this grip is beneficial.
The pronated bicep curl is also called the reverse bicep curl.
- Stand with a slight bend in your knees and your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold two dumbbells or a barbell with your palms facing down.
- Keep your elbows drawn in close to your body as you bring the weight up to your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Lower back down to the starting position.
- Do 2 to 3 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions.
- brachialis (brachialis anticus)
- biceps (biceps brachii)
Both supinated (palms facing you) and pronated bicep curls target your biceps. Pronated curls also work your outer arms and forearms, and they’ll help you develop grip strength. They’re also more difficult to perform.
A pronated pullup is simply called a pullup. In fact, the grip position is the primary difference between this and a chinup.
- Stand below an overhead bar.
- Face your palms away from your body as you hold the bar with your fingers going over the top.
- Keep your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
- Bring your hands closer together on the bar to target your arm muscles.
- Hang from the bar, bend your knees, or lift your feet behind you. You can also cross your ankles if you prefer.
- Exhale as you raise your body to bring your chin over the top of the bar, drawing your elbows in toward your sides.
- Inhale to slowly straighten your arms and return to the starting position.
- Do 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 12 repetitions.
- latissimus dorsi
For supinated pullups (also called chinups), you’ll hold the bar at shoulder width with your palms facing toward you. Chinups work your middle back, upper back, and biceps, and they’re typically easier to perform than pullups.
Your back muscles are targeted in both types of pullups.
Exercises are often more difficult when done with a pronated grip. When using this grip, you’ll be activating more muscle groups and increasing strength. However, more research is needed to show that the differences are significant.
A small 2017 study found that men who used a pronated grip showed more muscle activation than when they used alternate hand grips for pullups.
Differences were found when the muscles were lengthening and shortening. Overall, the hand variations for pullups were found to produce similar results.
A small 2010 study found that the pectoral and bicep muscles were more activated during chinups (supinated grip) than during pullups (pronated grip). The lower trapezius was more active during pullups.
There were no significant differences between doing the pullups and chinups regularly and using a pullup device.
Varying your grips helps to enhance your workouts because of the muscle groups that are targeted.
Small adjustments to how you do certain exercises can shift the focus to different muscles. They can make your workouts more well-rounded by ensuring that you’re working as many muscles as possible. You’ll also be less likely to overwork or injure your body from repetition.
To bring about optimal gains and variety to your workout, mix up your hand placement. This will help to keep your body in alignment and reduce stress in your wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Figuring out the ideal hand grip will depend on the part of your body you want to work.
You can use a pronated grip for most exercises, including:
- bench press
- shoulder press
- barbell squat
- dead hang
- barbell shrug
- trap bar deadlift with shrug
- reverse barbell wrist curl
A supinated (palms facing you) grip can be used for:
- inverted row
- bent-over row
- lat pulldown
An alternated grip (one hand pronated and the other supinated) can be used for:
- deadlift variations
- spotting, especially on the bench press
- traditional and sumo deadlifts
The hook grip is a pronated grip in which the thumb is held down by the fingers. It can be used for most exercises, including:
- clean and jerk
- chinup bar hangs
A pronated grip can make an exercise more difficult, so it’s a good idea to practice it so that you do it properly. The more difficult the exercise, the greater the need to strengthen the associated muscles.
Make sure you’re exercising within your limits by not pushing yourself too hard or beyond your limits. Using new grips may work your muscles in different ways, which can be felt in your body, but it shouldn’t be painful.
It’s important to talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise program, especially if you have any health concerns or take any medications.