One aspect of CrossFit that I find very interesting is the hook grip. I had never heard of it until I started doing CrossFit. At first it didn’t make sense to me how this grip could help someone lift more weights. I am still trying to get comfortable with it myself, and it is very tough if you don’t really commit to doing it, so I can see why people will abandon it or not use it at all. I have done this, I tried it for a while and then I was like forget this it is too uncomfortable. Now I am really working on trying to get comfortable with it.
What is the hook grip? The hook grip is where you push the palm of your hand tight against the bar, grab the bar by wrapping your thumb around it, and then grasp your thumb and the bar tightly with your fingers. Most people can grab the thumb with the first two fingers while their other two fingers directly grab the bar. This technique really helps you lift more weight off the platform, especially when you accelerate for the second pull. The hook grip is the best grip you can have without using straps.
Why the hook grip? The hook grip will stop the barbell from turning while gripped in the hands unlike a conventional grip. A conventional grip of thumb over the fingers can produce more force; however it is not the most secure grip to use.
Initially those who are using the hook grip for the first time will experience pain in the thumb. This is normal to someone (including myself) who has never conditioned their hands to the hook grip. Some beginners will also have the thumb bruise (turn black and blue) this is normal and will pass with time. If you are experiencing too much discomfort from the hook grip try doing some lifts on your own using a lower weight with the hook grip, while using a conventional grip for exercises in a WOD. If the light weight is too sore you start by practicing your hook grip on the PVC pipe. Eventually one will build up a tolerance to the pain while using the hook grip and will be able to use it all the time.
A test you could try to see the value and benefit of the hook grip is hanging from the pull up bar. First try a thumbless grip (with the thumb on the same side of the bar as the fingers); then I have them hang using the thumb around the bar and on top of the fingers. Then hang and use the hook grip. Usually you will give up because their thumbs are hurting, not because your grip is giving out.
Don’t worry, like all things this will take time to get used to, but once you get this down there will be no looking back.