Tuesday Tip: The Hook Grip

“The Hook Grip.” What is it?

This term is thrown around all over the place in your gym or on videos you watch, but do you use it?! The hook grip has been around forever and is a term referring to how you hold onto the barbell for olympic weightlifting when pulling from below the hip. The hook grip is used in order to maximize your grip strength on barbell. The grip lends the stability in your hands so that as the bar builds in weight you can hold onto it! It also helps keep the bar WHERE YOU WANT IT in your hands as it builds speed through the 1st, 2nd and 3rd pulling phases. For the snatch and the clean and jerk and any "hang" variation of the two, the hip and leg drive needed for speed and cause the bar to shift slightly in our hands if not slip all the way out. The hook grip allows us to pull with maximal speed with confidence!

As you continue along your olympic weightlifting journey it is important to use this grip. If you always use the traditional grip of wrapping your fingers around the bar and then thumb around your fingers, eventually your progress will be limited simply by your grip strength. The smaller muscles in the hands and forearms can’t keep up with the development of the upper back, legs and hips that will adapt quickly to the loads you can move on the barbell! This in turn will create a “shifting” or “dropping” of the barbell. When the load shifts in your hands unexpectedly it changes how you move, this often results in a missed lift. 

The above applies greatly when moving heavy weights and the value of the hook grip in a CrossFit style workout is even more evident! Imagine doing 30 clean and jerks for time like “Grace”. If you are using a load appropriate for the stimulus you should be linking several reps together, your small muscle groups again will be the first to fatigue. The hook grip can be the difference in you holding onto the bar to finish the workout or it slipping from your hands and having to wait to several seconds before picking the bar back up or alternatively finishing with single reps.

When learning to use the hook grip it feels awkward! You will need to purposefully condition your mind and body to using it. There is one flaw to the hook grip however I must warn you! You may not get your finger recognized by your iPhone or smart phone anymore, it will become calloused a bit. But hey…you aren’t afraid of a little tough skin already or you wouldn’t even be reading this!

Hook it, and go!