Our grip is an essential part of our fitness. It is a direct link between us and every implement that we use in training, particularly so with the barbell. Anything we can do to improve our ability to hold heavier loads will benefit our performance. This is where the hook grip comes in. Luckily, a dedicated grip strength program is not necessary. However, getting used to the hook grip can prove quite troublesome. Oftentimes, a person that does not recognize its benefits will quickly give up learning the hook up, or won’t even bother in the first place. This article will discuss the benefits of the hook grip and how to do it correctly.
Unlike the standard over hand grip, the hook grip places the thumb directly on the bar with the index and middle fingers over the thumb. This method more evenly distributes space on the bar throughout the hand. The thumb, being shorter, can more securely hold onto the bar, and the longer digits are still able to wrap around the bar and thumb (which also acts as a lip for the fingers to dig into) to a significant degree. This grip also fights the tendency of the bar to roll out of the fingers; the fingers prevent the forward roll of the bar and the thumb prevents the bar from rolling back. Since the hook grip relies on mechanical advantage, actual grip strength is much less of a factor. In fact, this grip allows the musculature in the hand and forearm to relax, which is quite helpful in preventing arm bend. Additionally, unlike the reverse grip, the hook grip can be used during the clean and snatch and loads the body evenly.
Despite its benefits, many hesitate to learn the hook grip because doing so is at first quite uncomfortable. Much of this discomfort can be alleviated by correcting common mistakes. First-time hook grippers will often attempt to wrap all of the fingers around the thumb and squeeze it against the bar as hard as possible. Remember, this is the hook grip, not the death grip. With the wrist in line with the forearm, only the index and middle fingers should wrap around the thumb and pull it around the bar, not mash it. Most importantly, don’t give up! Practice the hook grip as often as possible, especially with lighter loads and during warm up sets. Acquiring this skill will greatly improve your performance!