Olympic weightlifters use a special grip called hook grip that is relatively unknown and rarely taught to the average lifter. It is used for Olympic lifts and practiced when training with different broken-down elements of these lifts such as the “pull” portions.
There are only two Olympic lifts that meet true Olympic-standards, The Clean and Jerk and the Snatch. In both of these exercises, the hook grip is designed to stop the barbell from turning while gripped in the hands. The nervous system is smart and will sense danger. If the body feels that the grip being used is too weak for the weight being lifted, it will not allow the muscles to “fire” aggressively, in an attempt to protect the body. In other words, the nervous system acts as a built-in safety mechanism. Therefore, if we secure the grip to meet the weight, we rewire this protective mechanism and give the body a sense of security and stability.
DOESN’T IT HURT?
Yes it does, for the first few weeks or sometimes months. But you will get used to it and when you start feeling sorry for yourself, just remember that there are 56 kg (124 lb) guys who Snatch and Clean with the hook grip on the same 28 mm barbell that you do. Check out Long Qingquan Clean and Jerking 160kg.
If an athlete with hands that small can hold onto a weight that big with a hook grip, then you can find a way to manage.
HOOK GRIP TECHNIQUE
Wrap your thumb around the bar, then grab your thumb with your first two fingers and pull it further around the bar.
TAPING YOUR THUMBS
You can try taping your thumbs. Make sure you use elastic tape so your joints can move freely. Sometimes tape will have a bit more friction against the bar and make your grip feel more secure.
HOOK GRIP TIPS
- Be sure that you’re doing it correctly. Don’t just squeeze your thumb between your fingers and the bar. Make sure to wrap your thumb around the bar then lock it in with your fingers.
- When using webbings, with the first setting of your grip, push the webbing between your thumb and index finger into the bar as deep as possible, and then wrap the thumb and fingers. This will help you get more reach with the thumb.
- For most people, there is some stretching that needs to occur before the hook grip feels really secure. The best way to realize this is to simply use the hook grip every time you’re pulling a bar. Your thumbs will stretch out a bit and your hands will become trained to the position, and it will at the end of the day start feeling much more comfortable.
- You can also stretch directly by making a fist with your thumb placed tightly inside and ulnar deviate your hand; that is, tilt your hand away from the thumb side. You should feel a stretch around the base of your thumb and probably a little up into your wrist as well. You can also flex the wrist from this position to get an additional and somewhat different stretch.
- If you really want to torture yourself, do heavy Deadlifts with a hook grip. This will stretch your thumb out and strengthen the grip with less chance of a sudden slip than you would have in a snatch or clean, but it will also be painful. But no pain, no gain.
- Use Fat Grips. They will bring enormous effort , also if they are extremely grip exhausting.
The highest rated advice in any case is: keep using it as much as possible and as frequently as possible and it will improve.
WHEN NOT TO USE HOOK GRIP
The only exception to not use the hook grip is during a WOD with high reps of Snatch or Clean, as in “Grace” or “Isabel”, calling for 30 reps for time. It may be challenging to maintain your grip with the rapid change of direction on the bar. In this case, it’s all forearm; tap and go. Your lifts will be better with a hook grip but your time may be slower. It’s your choice. The hook grip is most useful on heavy training, maximal effort and intervals of low repetition or where there are a few seconds between reps and you can reset your body for another effort.