The deadlift involves the largest muscles in your body – back, hamstrings and glutes. Consequently, you are lifting a lot of weight which puts tons of stress on the elbows since your arms connect you to the barbell. Due to the large weight and improper technique people often experience biceps tears when performing deadlifts.
The main reasons for that are:
1.Bending your arms during deadlifts.
Your arms are supposed to be just hooks. You are NOT lifting the weight with your arms. The deadlift is not dependent on arm strength. There are plenty of good deadlifters with small arms and yet triple body weight deadlifts. Make sure your arms are straight when you deadlift in order to avoid biceps tears.
2.Using mixed grip.
Many people use the mixed grip during deadlifts in order to lift more weight.
The mixed grip requires the lifter to have his palms facing in different directions – one towards him and the other one away from the body.
That way the bar is of locked between your hands and when one starts to give up, the negative force is negated by the other.
This method is used by many powerlifters to this very day. However, quite often the biceps of the arm pointing away from you (supinated grip) is torn because of the increased tendon/muscle stretch and the uneven grip.
How to prevent biceps tears?
In order to avoid tears use straps or a hook grip for your working sets. To add some forearm work make sure that you do your warm-up sets with regular overhand grip. As you grow stronger your warm-up weights will increase and with that your grip strength as well.
The usage of straps or hook grip reduces the possibility of biceps tears because the stretch of the biceps is reduced and the grip is even. The hands are also more relaxed which takes tension off the arm flexors.
There are many professional powerlifters such as Bob Peoples and Brad Gillingham who have used the hook grip to fix some technical problems associated with the mixed grip as well as to prevent biceps tears.
The hook grip is allowed in powerlifting competitions. The usage of straps however is not prohibited.