Kirkland CrossFit

Kirkland CrossFit

Hook Grippin'

I hear it all the time.  “Why hook grip?”  Without getting too technical, wrapping the thumbs underneath the does a few things.  It allows the thumb to further wrap around the bar and to be secured by the finger or fingers wrapping over it.  This allows for additional security around the bar to prevent it from spinning out of your fingers by counterbalancing the backwards roll that is encountered when using just the fingers, much in the same way that using a mixed grip does when deadlifting.  It also enforces a tighter grip with looser forearms that better translates any power generated from the hips and legs to the acceleration of the bar.  There’s a reason that every single Oymipc lifter in the world uses the hook grip.  To generate any sort explosive momentum on the bar during the second pull, or when your hips pop the bar up, the security of a hook grip is needed.  Otherwise your clean and snatch will always be limited.
When should you use it?  It might not be necessary to use at all times during a crossfit workout.  For instance, high reps of light cleans or snatches for time might not require a hook grip.  However, if you have yet to develop it, these would be good times to learn, when the weight is light.  When going to heavy sets of cleans or snatches at low reps, like 5 to 1 rep maxes, you should always be hook gripping.
Common complaints I hear, “I don’t like it,  It hurts,  I don’t like the way it feels,  My hands are too small, etc.” (Wait, what am I talking about?)  The earlier you learn, the lighter the weight will be, and the easier the transition will be.  Tape your thumbs.  It might take a few weeks to get used to it.  To be honest, you just gotta suck it up.  If you think your hands are too small, here is a good view of a 56 kg (123 lb) lifter using it before cleaning 166 kg (365 lb), even though he missed the jerk.
And from some crossfit folk, Rich Froning and Dan Baily using it during some snatching.  It’s hard to see, but there is a reason their thumbs are taped.

So, suffer through those first few weeks of learning the hook grip.  After you are used to it, you won’t want to go back.

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