Keep Holding On: Building Strength and Endurance With Bar Complexes

The frustrating part is that in the majority of cases it’s our grip strength restricting us rather than our overall strength.

So, this time, I want to write about some Bar Complexes that will help you improve that grip strength in order to hand in there much longer, helping you to finish your sets with fewer splits than in previous WODs.

Before you start working on that strength, you should prepare yourself taking some time to find the grip that suits you right. Remember, different exercises need different grips.  This will not just help you in your regular workout but also prevents your precious Crossfit hands from blisters, grazing or similar injuries that can hurt like hell and prevent you from being as awesome as you could possibly be!



grip strength
Bar complexes and grip strength: standard hook grip

This is the standard grip most Crossfitters use for exercises like T2B, CU, C2B, PU and Bar MU. It gives you the maximum possible grip at the bar no matter how much you sweat. The benefit of this grip is also its biggest downside: Especially for a high number of reps you will feel your hands suffering from that good, tight grip, as the pressure put onto your palm is quite high and will leave some memories. So, make sure to take care of your hands and give your palms some extra rest or use gloves, straps, whatever helps protecting your palms.


Loose grip
Loose grip

As the name already implies, this grip is loose and allows you to use a wider range of movement that is necessary for exercises such as Butterfly PUs. Since you don’t have your thumbs to support you, you will need more grip strength, which basically means, that your other four (eight) fingers will have to work their asses off even more. Compared to the standard grip this one is more palm-friendly.



This type of grip is a very special one that most of you have maybe used for Deadlifts before but never associated with PUs before. Personally, I am not very fond of this grip but use it from time to time when working on my C2B or PUs. If the count of reps is high and your grip strength is losing its power, you might want to try it. It’s not meant for the everyday use but something that can help you to gain one or two more reps than your fellow Crossfitter next to you.


Most of us train regularly at one box with the same Rigs and Racks but those who travel around a lot visiting different boxes around the globe will need to take a closer look at the bars they are about to do a workout with. Different suppliers use different widths and coatings that might change your game a bit.

For most Crossfit exercises it is beneficial to have a smoother surface. For our Rigs and Racks, we choose a smoother power coating that will make your T2Bs and MUs a lot easier, even without palm protection. So we recommend you test the bar you want to do your workout with before starting your WOD because there is nothing more annoying (and painful) than realizing during the WOD that you have misjudged the bar and end up with bleeding hands. We know, no pain no gain but hey, you need your hands for a lot of other shit too.

Grip strength
Grip strength

After you have checked out your bar (like you would check out a guy / girl at a bar), taped your hands, put on your gloves (or decided to go for it ‘commando’) and you have chosen your preferred grip for the workout, you are ready to go!


Personally, I like to shake things up in my training sessions and combine a few Bar-Exercises to a Complex.

Here are the fun ones for you to try out:

1. 5 RFT

  • 3 Pull-ups
  • 2 Toes to Bar
  • 1 Chest to Bar
  • Don’t let go of the grip in between the rounds.

PRO: More advanced athletes can spice up this workout and replace the Pull-ups by Chest to Bar-Pull-ups and further replace the Chest to Bar with 1 Muscle-up.

2. EMOM 10 MIN

  • Toe to Bar
  • Chest to Bar Complex (2-5 reps)
  • Perform 1 T2B and go directly to a Chest to Bar.
  • Repeat that every minute 2 to 5 times.

Keep the same count of reps for all 10 rounds!


  • 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 …
  • T2B
  • Pull-up
  • Shippers are always fun. 😉
  • See how far you can get in 9 minutes: Start with 1 T2B and 1 PU, next round 2 T2B and 2 PUs …

Watch your hands for this one because let’s face it: 9 minutes is a fucking long time!

So: Stay Strong & Keep Holding On!

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