A Missive to the Hook Grip Haters
By Coach Emily
Hey Locals, I have a request: start using the hook grip. Please. Pretty please.
Check it out. I love watching competitive, Olympic-style weightlifters doing their thing. The top athletes each move a little differently, but do you know what they all have in common? The hook grip! They all use it. Even the little guys with small stubby hands! Even the ladies! All of them! It’s time for you to quit making excuses and start using it, too.
Not quite convinced? Good. That was a classic argumentative fallacy. But let’s dig in a little more.
What is the hook grip?
It’s a particular(ly awesome) way of holding the barbell when you lift. How do you do it? Simple! Wrap your thumb around the bar on the inside of your fingers. Yep, it’ll probably ruin your manicure.
When should I use it?
Use it when you’re pulling, especially in a lift with rapid barbell acceleration. This means cleans and snatches. Every. Time. Use it when you’re warming up these lifts, when you’re lifting heavy, and during the WOD. Some athletes eventually become so comfortable with the hook grip that they like deadlifting with it. I find a hook grip deadlift unnecessarily painful and ultimately unhelpful. That one’s up to personal preference.
Yeah, but, this feels dumb and kind of hurts so why exactly do I have to do this?
This is where you have to trust me. I know it feels weird, clumsy, even painful. I know that if you learned to clean and snatch without using the hook grip it hinders you at first, especially when the weight gets heavy. Here’s the thing. Ultimately, using a hook grip will make you stronger and better when you clean and snatch the barbell. Here’s why:
- Hook grip increases the friction and the grasp strength between your fingers and your thumb. The tension of the barbell pulls down on your fingers and they lock your thumb into place. It gives you a more secure hold on the bar.
- Wrapping your thumb around the bar on the inside of your fingers forces you to relax the muscles around the inside of your elbow slightly. This relaxation allows for fluid, fast arm movement as you drop under the barbell.
Tips and tricks
- Stick with it. Most people need four weeks of frequent use to get comfortable with the hook grip but once they get comfortable they never look back.
- Let it go. (Singing Frozen in your head now? You’re welcome!) Seriously though, after you catch the clean or the snatch, the hook grip isn’t doing work anymore. Also, very few people have the mobility to continue to hook the bar in the racked or overhead position.
- If you’re brand new to Olympic-style lifting, don’t stress out about the hook grip. The Olympic lifts have a lot going on. When you’re a true beginner you get a free pass to hold the bar in a normal overhand grip if that’s more comfortable. Once you stop asking questions like Which one is the snatch? What does a clean look like, again? then it’s time to get down and dirty with the hook grip.