A little repeat for our advanced athletes, but some good info for the new CrossFitters in the room.
In many of the activities we participate in as CrossFit athletes, our grip strength can be a major advantage or set back. Cleans, snatches and deadlifts all rely heavily on our grip strength. In addition, combining these movements with kettlebell swings or pull-ups is a recipe for grip fatigue. Thus, as CrossFitters, we are always looking for ways to be more efficient in longer workouts, as well as increasing our ability to pull heavy (deadlift, clean, snatch), and the hook grip is a great way to do that.
The preferred grip of most athletes is called the traditional grip (shown above), where the thumb wraps over the index and middle finger. Ideally, we should be just below the fingers, and not all the way up on the palm, but that is a story for another day. This grip position, while comfy, is highly susceptible to fatigue. The “Hook Grip” is a technique meant to prevent or delay the fatigue that causes your grip to fail. In this post I wanted to briefly cover the hook grip, provide some basic instruction on how to incorporate it, and finally encourage you all to give it a try in your next lifting session.
The correct hook grip method is:
Start by stretching the thumb and index finger as far apart as you can so that the skin between the two fingers is tight. With the elbow in a straight and locked position press the skin between the thumb and index finger against the bar. The result of this action will cause the two fingers to move together and your grip to tighten. With pressure still being applied to the bar wrap the thumb around the bar. Reach your index and middle finder over the bar, grabbing the bar and thumb at the same time. Your grip should now be locked in the hook position. If that was too complicated, see below:
This grip should only be used in “pull” phases of your deadlift, clean, or snatch. When the bar rotates your thumb should come unlocked and leave the bar resting in the traditional grip position. The first few times you attemp this grip, its probably going to cause some discomfort. But the same could be said with just about everything you do in CrossFit. However, I will bet my reputation as a coach that after the initial 6 uncomfortable weeks of hook gripping, you will feel that it is a stronger grip than the traditional variation as your skin becomes used to it.
Adding this technique to your lifts has been shown to add anywhere to 2%-10% additional load to your lifts. Another great idea is to use it during barbell portions of WODs with a high number of grip intensive movements kettlebell swing, pull ups, muscle ups, etc. in order to have your grip last longer.