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Video Transcript:
Greetings everyone and welcome back to another informative video blog from MSP Fitness. Today we are going to be discussing the use of hook grip. First, we’ll cover WHAT hook grip is. Then, we will go into WHY you might use hook grip versus a standard grip, alternating grip, or any other barbell grip variation. Lastly, we’ll show you how to tape your thumb to save your nail bed and skin while using the hook grip.

WHAT is Hook Grip?
Hook grip differs from the normal pronated, or matched overhand grip one commonly uses on barbell lifts like deadlift, cleans, or other pulling variations. While using a “normal” grip, the fingers wrap around the barbell first, with the thumb resting predominately on top of the index and middle finger. The sequencing changes with hook grip by initiating barbell contact with the thumb. Following up, the index and middle fingers cinch over the thumb and the remaining fingers laying down on the bar accordingly. Pictured below you’ll see a comparison of the two grip styles with hook grip being featured on the right.

Now that the thumbs are trapped under the first digits, the hook grip reduces forearm and hand fatigue, eliminating the potential weakening of the grip while lifting. A compromised grip during a lift can lead to a dangerous breakdown in form, and being that we work with a large number of general population clients, this technical error is something we never want to see. This is why the hook grip can be so valuable.

WHY Hook Grip?

Kim Un-guk (DPR Korea) snatching 154kg at 62kg bodyweight. Photo credit: IronMind

Kim Un-guk (DPR Korea) snatching 154kg at 62kg bodyweight.
Photo credit: IronMind

Now that we’ve discussed what hook grip is, let’s look at some more specific use case scenarios. Right off the bat, I’m going to say that Olympic weightlifters (those training to compete in the sport of Weightlifting) are almost exclusively using the hook grip for their lifting. These movements are meant to be performed at maximal levels of speed and strength, and for that reason hook grip is key so the lifter is never in a situation where their grip is going to be the limiter.

For a much larger group of people, including but not limited to the general population clients we see here at our facility, hook grip can be a great grip option for everyday barbell use with some important caveats. Grip strength is a key metric for overall health, fitness, and longevity. At MSP Fitness, before we even start the conversation around using an alternate grip option like the hook grip, we require one’s deadlift with “normal grip” to be around bodyweight or little over for reps — not a heavy single.  Using hook grip lowers the total forearm strength, or training of the grip, you need to perform a task. For for this reason we limit its use, reserving it for more seasoned lifters so as not to create a hand to leg strength imbalance in beginning or novice lifters.

It is additionally worth noting, and is one of the huge advantages of adopting hook grip, is that it can be applied at your leisure, even inter-set. For instance if a 140lb Female is deadlifting a 150lb bar for a set of five reps, she can use the hook grip right off the bat, somewhere in the middle when hand strength starts to fatigue, or never. The latch effect that the hook grip provides can be administered whenever throughout a workout or set. Finally, it is important to note that your thumb will appreciate a warm up. Tossing in a few reps of lifting held by a hook grip during your warm up sets will be the best way to give yourself the option of utilizing it later on during your working loads.

HOW to Tape Your Thumbs for Hook Grip:
Although it isn’t altogether necessary, we find it very helpful to wrap your thumbs with athletic tape before lifting with the hook grip. Not only will it help that middle finger lock in the thumb’s placement on the bar, but might save some skin and cuticles during your lifting. Here are the steps:

  1. Start with a general roll of athletic tape, ripping it down the center, forming two equally wide strips. We generally recommend using about eighteen inches of tape, however you can always go up or down accordingly based on individual thumb size and preference.
  2. Place the tape on the underside of the thumb with the excess hanging off the back towards you.
  3. Keeping the thumb knuckle bent, lace the tape around the thumb once, working your way up vertically.
  4. Now that the tape is at the top, wrap the nail bed and continue covering the thumb forming a figure eight or X pattern on the underside of the thumb. There should still be enough tape to retrace the previous steps once more, giving you two to three layers of tape over the thumb with exception being the open gap on top of the knuckle joint itself. It’s important to keep your thumb slightly bent while taping for the hook grip and to leave space on top of the joint. This allows your thumbs to stay mobile with no blood flow restrictions.
  5. Finish by wrapping the excess tape around the back as to not tear off prematurely while rubbing up against the barbell.

If everything went well, you’ll find that when you grip the bar, the index and middle finger has ample surface to grasp on the top and side of the thumb along with the skin of your taped thumb free from abrasion.

Hopefully you found this blog and the correlating video to be of value. If you implement the hook grip in your next training session, or tape your thumb before your next snatch day, we want to hear about it. Join the conversation over on Facebook or leave us a comment on YouTube.

-Written by Taylor Gish

If the information has been of value to you, we’d love to keep in touch! Best way to stay connected is to “Like” our Facebook page or “Subscribe” to us on YouTube. As always, if you’re in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area and you’re looking for a weightlifting gym, quality strength and conditioning studio, or simply tired of that revolving door of fitness, we’d love to hear more and meet you face to face. Get in contact with us today!

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