The deadlift involves the largest muscles in your body – back, hamstrings and glutes. Consequently, you are lifting a lot of weight, which puts stress on the elbows since your arms connect you to the barbell. The combination of heavy weight and an improper technique could result in a bicep tear.
The main reasons for that are:
1.Bending your arms during deadlifts
Your arms are meant to act as hooks when you deadlift. You are not lifting the weight with them. The deadlift is not dependent on arm strength. There are good deadlifters with small arms and yet triple bodyweight deadlifts. Make sure that your arms are straight when you deadlift to avoid biceps tears.
2.The mixed grip
Many people use the mixed grip to hold on to heavy deadlifts. The mechanism is fairly simple. One arm is an underhand grip (palms away from the body), whereas the other is an overhand grip (palms towards the body). Therefore, when the hands start to open, they negate each other’s weakness.
Many powerlifters rely on this grip. Yet it is not that safe. Quite often the bicep of the arm pointing away from you (supinated grip) is torn because of the increased tendon/muscle stretch and the uneven position.
Moreover, the mixed grip results in an unbalanced back development and uneven stress on the lower back. It works, obviously, but the downsides are undeniable.
How to prevent biceps tears?
To avoid tears use straps or a hook grip for your work sets. To add some forearm work, do your warm-up sets with regular overhand grip. As you grow stronger, your warm-up weights will increase, and so will the strength of your grip.
The usage of straps or hook grip reduces the possibility of biceps tears because the stretch of the biceps is minimized.
There are many powerlifters such as Bob Peoples and Brad Gillingham who have used the hook grip to fix some of the 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 prohibited.