The Hook Grip. If you’ve spent more than one day at CrossFit FBO, you’ve heard one of the coaching staff mention this grip.
The Hook Grip, sometimes referred to as the pinch grip, weightlifting grip or dead lifting grip is a staple in CrossFit. And at CrossFit FBO we emphasize its use with almost all the weightlifting exercises we perform.
The hook grip is utilized with weightlifting movements because it will stop the barbell from turning while gripped in the hands unlike a conventional grip (a conventional grip of thumb over the fingers can produce more force, but is not the most secure grip to use). The hook grip will also allow you to perform higher power output, meaning you can either lift heavier weight a single time or lift manageable weight past the point of grip fatigue during high rep workouts. The hook grip helps you maintain your grip during bar acceleration. It is achieved by wrapping the thumb around the bar first and then wrapping the pointer and middle finger around the thumb.
Beginners trying the hook grip will complain of pain in the thumb joint as well as pain directly on the thumb itself. The good news is, that pain will go away. The bad news is that pain won’t go away unless you train your thumb and your hand to accept this new position.
Let’s be serious for a minute, this grip is not natural. It’s slightly uncomfortable, but it’s needed. I promise you, those of us who use it with our lifts, don’t have pain and don’t think twice about it. Your hand and your thumb can be conditioned to manage the hook grip efficiently, it just takes some training.
For those of you not completely convinced the hook grip is effective, I’d like you to try this experiment. Hang from the pull-up bar. First attempt it with a thumbless grip (with the thumb on the same side of the bar as the fingers); Then hang using the thumb around the bar and on top of the fingers. Finally, use the hook grip and hang. Which grip could you hang from the bar the longest? Did your hook grip fail from grip fatigue, or just because your thumb was hurting? Imagine hanging from the pull-up bar with the hook grip and no thumb pain? How long could you hang there?
Here’s your homework. Start using the hook grip whenever and wherever possible. I mean all the time. Regardless of the weight on the bar, start gripping the bar with your hook grip. Heck, if you’re feeling adventurous, start gripping everything with the hook grip (steering wheel of your car, grabbing your gym bag, etc.) Get used to having your hand in that position. Condition your body to make it a comfortable movement.
Next, work on your thumb flexibility. Practice placing your thumb inside of your hand and then making a fist:
You’ll notice I can easily place my thumb at the edge of my ring finger. You should be able to at least get it up to if not past your middle finger. You can set your thumb in your palm, and before you close your fist use your other hand to stretch (push) your thumb across your palm.
When you are making the fist with your thumb inside you palm, you should actively moving your thumb to stretch it across your palm. The beauty of this exercise is you can do it anywhere with your free time.
To wrap things up, here’s a nice demo video explaining the finer points of the hook grip: