The Hook Grip
Writing has never been something I’ve excelled at. In college, the guys on my floor would get together and read my papers together just to laugh how awful my grammar was. I never worked at it, always just dismissing the skill and saying to myself ‘it doesn’t matter, I’m a math and science guy’. Well, as it turns out, writing is an effective way of communicating information to all the people I can’t speak to in person. That being said, here goes my attempt at writing something.
I think sometime in second grade we learned (the last time I really learned anything about writing) that skillful writing needs a what, how, when, why, who and where to be complete. Today, our topic is the hook grip, so let’s go ahead and walk through all of the pieces and see if a complete message is the result.
What is the hook grip?
The hook grip is an overhand grip on a barbell where your thumb is held between the barbell and your Index & Middle fingers.
How do you hook grip?
Start by pressing the webbing of your hand into the barbell. Place the pad of your thumb on the bottom of the bar and hook it with your middle then index fingers. Your ring finger and pinky are just along for the ride.
The hook grip is initially quite uncomfortable but after 2-6 weeks of continuous use it becomes much more comfortable. To improve comfort, and for some people improve grip, you can apply tape to your thumb. There are quite a few techniques to this but a steadfast rule is that you want to use tape with enough elasticity that you can bend your thumb a bit and wrap the tape away from you so when you are holding the bar it tightens, not loosens.
When should you use the hook grip?
Any time you are performing an Olympic Weightlifting movement that includes a pull, whether it be from the floor or from the hang position. The hook grip should be used when completing the full movements as well as working on Snatch or Clean deadlifts and pulls. Receiving the bar in the Snatch and the Clean does not require the hook grip. If you are comfortable keeping it, especially in the snatch as 99% of lifters release the hook during the clean, then it is okay to maintain it, however it will limit wrist mobility to a certain extent. When you are pressing or jerking overhead you do not need the hook grip, in fact it will be challenging for most lifters to maintain the grip and go overhead properly.
Why should you hook grip?
To lift more weight…. Duh! But for real, the hook grip is a much stronger grip than a conventional overhand thumb wrapped grip. Another reason that is often neglected is activating the right muscles, in the right way and at the right time. A highly regarded Olympic Weightlifting coach Glenn Pendlay said “A contracted muscle cannot contract twice” and when you don’t use the hook grip to lift heavy weights you will be forced to squeeze the bar activating the muscles in your forearms, shoulders and even traps. Those muscles are much better left for pulling your body under the bar than squeezing the bar just so you don’t drop it.
Who should you use the hook grip?
Anyone who is Olympic Weightlifting; Snatch and Clean & Jerk. It really is as simple as that.
Where should you use the hook grip?
The simple answer is at the gym when completing Olympic Weightlifting related movements. But, you will know that you are hooked (I’m getting older so the puns are automatic) when you find yourself hook gripping your steering wheel and grocery bags.