Double overhand hook grip deadlifts?

Hey man,

After seeing Chris pull, I think a lot of us have come to feel that there is a certain coolness to pulling heavy deadlifts with a double overhand hook grip. This is part of the reason why Chris’s deadlifts are so awesome, other than the fact that he collectively lifts more than a ton with his 5rm deadlift. There is something about possessing the grip strength to pull that kind of weight double overhand hook grip that, to me at least, equates to being a man, you know?

Hands strong enough to crush a moderately sized Asian? 70s big.

This post highlights another double overhand hook grip deadlifter, Mikhail Kokylaev. Kokylaev competes as a strongman, powerlifter, and weightlifter, and possesses a great diversity of athletic skills and types of strength. The video below displays his insanely strong pulling in addition to his equally insane grip.

If you go to his youtube page, you can see his other videos, and he’s pretty much a loose cannon, he’s just out of control. My favorites are his 200k push press triple and the 150k muscle snatch in an exhibition vid that a barbell club in the UK posted of him.

While having a ridiculously strong grip is appealing, it’s probably not wise to let the pursuit of great grip strength overshadow the primary goal of becoming strong, that is, through squats, presses, and pulling. I like to warm up with a double overhand hook grip as much as I can for all my pulling movements, usually up to my last warm up set, but Justin is always encouraging me, in the nicest possible way of course, to be smart about my grip and to not let my quest to be as cool as Chris overshadow my quest to be as strong as Brent Kim can possibly be.

Hopefully in the next article, Justin will weigh in on grip strength and how it relates to 70s big. If you have any questions on the topic, share them in the comments.

I’ve got a couple questions, actually:

– What’s the method of rectification for a guy trying to get 70s big whose grip is the limiting factor in his deadlifts/haltings/rack pulls?

– There’s a subculture in lifting, comparable to the “no belts” subculture, which espouses the ideal of never using straps for any exercise. Thoughts on straps in training?

– A while ago at a cookout at the WFAC, Gant recommended Kroc rows to me for, among other things, grip strength. Since Gant suggested I try them, and because Matt Kroczaleski does them and has a lot of super sweet vids on youtube of him doing them, I have of course been doing Kroc rows semi-religiously, sometimes without a shirt on. Thoughts on accessory exercises such as these? Perhaps thoughts on training without a shirt on?

Giant Killer: Evgeny Chigishev

Edit: This is another post by my friend, Brent. Enjoy.

2005, Doha, Qatar. It is the world weightlifting championships. The snatch session of the 105k+ men’s category is coming to an end. Of the 9 lifters competing in the A session, four of them have attempts left to obtain a result equal to or greater than 200k: Rezazadeh, the favorite, Viktor Scerbatihs, reliable as ever, Jaber Saeed Salem, an insanely strong athlete representing Qatar, and then there was Evgeny Chigishev.

Rezazadeh is just coming off a series of untouchable performances. At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, he clean and jerked the current world record, 263.5k, and totaled 17.5k more than the next competitor (Scerbatihs) with 472.5k (this is just 2.5k off from the greatest total of all time, set by Leonid Taranenko in 1998 at 475k). And in the 2005 Asian Championships, he totaled an effortless 460k, taking 10k jumps in all three of his clean and jerks, culminating in what appeared to be a fairly routine 260k.

Rezazadeh’s biggest problem is that it seems as if no one can challenge him.

Chigishev opens at 200k on his first attempt without trouble. Rezazadeh follows with an effortless 201k, which is greeted by great applause from the Iranians in the audience. Salem, who defeated Rezazadeh in 2003 in the snatch, also takes 201k, as does Scerbatihs in seemingly robotic fashion shortly after. Salem ups the ante with his third and final attempt at 205k, but is unable to rack the weight overhead to stand. Rezazadeh takes the lead again when he is successful at 205k, and with the pressure mounting, Scerbatihs fails on his third and final attempt to match Rezazadeh’s lift.

Chigishev has two attempts left.

He calls for 209k, a 9k jump from his previous effort. It is a considerable jump, but the Iranians in the crowd do not give him quiet. They whistle and they chatter, but Chigishev finds the focus to tune them out and explode the weight overhead. He is successful, and suddenly Rezazadeh is challenged.

Rezazadeh’s third attempt is 210k. He can’t call for 209k, since he outweighs Chigishev by 40 kilos, and it would also be unwise to take a larger jump to establish a greater lead, since this is his third attempt snatch. He has to make this lift, and he has to hope that Chigishev does not have it in him to succeed with a greater weight.

Rezazadeh’s final lift is, characteristically, effortless, and his performance is again awarded with loud applause. He’s wrested victory away from the hands of a Russian who looks like he should be posing on a bodybuilding stage.

But Chigishev has one attempt left, and he wants to send a message. He calls for 211k. If he beats Rezazadeh, he does not want to beat him by ruling on bodyweight. Chigishev wants to beat Rezazadeh, decisively and definitively.

Of course, Rezazadeh’s biggest fans are in the crowd. When Chigishev comes out for his final attempt, which will decide who takes gold in the snatch, the audience refuses to give him quiet again, even when he motions for it.

David Rigert, coach of the Russian National team, shouts at him to just fucking go, and Chigishev positions himself over the bar. With the crowd whistling and shouting, he’ll have to find his own quiet.

The problem with going up against people like Rezazadeh is that the illusion of his invincibility is as daunting as his actual ability to perform. If a man appears to be untouchable, people who try to best him are almost always going to be affected because of that illusion. Who can beat a man who is on the edge of becoming the strongest athlete the sport has ever seen?

The venue is packed. They are all there for Rezazadeh. But Chigishev stands alone over 211k.

His pull is violent, explosive. The bar is overhead, Chigishev locks it out, holds it there as it tries to wrench to his left. His knees are shaking at the bottom of the squat, but impossibly, he begins to rise, and methodically works himself to the top.

Rezazadeh is no longer in the lead.

And Chigishev, a modest superheavy at 125.77k, becomes a giant killer.