What if I told you you could improve your grip strength, which in turn would increase the amount you can lift.
Would you be interested?
Enter the hook grip.
So, what is the hook grip and how do you use it?
The hook grip involves grabbing a barbell, wrapping the thumb around it, and then taking the remaining four fingers and grasping both the thumb and the bar. When viewing the hook grip, it will look like the thumb is tucked inside the tip of the hand. The hook grip creates a “lifting strap” with their hands.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about the hook grip, how it can increase your grip strength and lifting performance, and how to master it.
Quick Disclaimer: It is very common for beginner lifters and individuals who are new to the hook grip to get frustrated with it and even struggle to grip weights they could easily do in the past.
While this is one of the most effective and strongest grips out there, it does take a few weeks to get a hold of it.
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Who Uses the Hook Grip?
Using a hook grip is standard in sports like Olympic weightlifting, however not all strength athletes will use them. That said, many lifers at higher levels feel that the hook grip is one of if not the strongest grip out there.
For powerlifting and strongman athletes who use a mixed grip (one hand down, one hand up), combining this with the hook grip can further enhance overall pulling performance (or simply go double overhead and use the hook grip).
OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTERS & THE HOOK GRIP
The hook grip is used in Olympic weighting as it provides the utmost security when lifting heavy snatches and cleans off the floor, while also allowing for the arms to stay flexible and fast.
During the turnover phase of the Olympic lifts (between the knees and mid thigh), the hook grip also helps to secure the bar so that it doesn’t unravel out of the grip and get released forwards.
The hook grip is an essential and necessary grip for all weightlifters looking to maximize their performance.
POWERLIFTERS/STRONGMAN ATHLETES & THE HOOK GRIP
Adding the hook grip to deadlifts, farmers carries, and any other grip intensive movements can aid in grip strength, endurance, and overall performance.
It’s also a less risky type of grip as some powerlifters/strongman athletes tear biceps using a mixed grip. More specifically, with the bicep of the same hand that is facing up.
This isn’t a common occurrence for the average person, but for the elite powerlifter and strongman athlete it can be a consideration in what type of grip they choose to use.
ANYONE LOOKING FOR A STRONGER GRIP CAN USE THE HOOK GRIP
If you are looking for a stronger grip technique, or unaware that there is one out there, I strongly urge you to educate yourself on the hook grip as it’s the best way to increase your grip strength.
Below, we will discuss how to master the hook grip in a step-by-step guide, and review the benefits one can expect from using the hook grip in training and competition.
The hook grip is a great grip option for compound exercises like deadlifts, cleans, and carries.
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Benefits of the Hook Grip
Below are two benefits of the hook grip that any level lifter can uncover when mastering and using the hook grip in training and competition.
The mixed grip is a common grip style that lifters use when deadlifting in which one hand is gripping the bar with the palm down, and the other with the palm up.
Using a mixed grip is a good option for many, however it can lead to some asymmetries and injury risk.
With the asymmetrical grip, some lifters will, over time, develop unilateral slouching of one shoulder, which can cause a ripple effect of rotational forces on the upper back and spine.
Additionally, if a lifter fails to maintain proper positioning, one shoulder can be placed under load in internal rotation greater than the other which can create some issues down the road.
While I am not against a mixed grip, I do personally believe that it should be used sparingly, and lifters should opt to master the hookgrip using a double overhand grip for the majority of their training.
DECREASED RISK FOR BICEP TEARS
Using an open grip (biceps facing forward) can place a good amount of stress on the biceps and biceps tendon.
During a deadlift, some lifters can have other issues like limited hip mobility, or lack of back tension, and end up pulling with their arms in the pull. This can be a very, very bad thing, especially for stronger and more advanced lifers who are lifting hundreds of pounds/kilos.
Using the hook grip can ensure the biceps are not exposed as much in the pull and can help maintain a secure grip without having to use a mixed grip.
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Step-By-Step Guide: How To Use The Hook Grip
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to hook grip a barbell. Note, depending on the exercise, the width of the grip may vary (snatch grip vs clean grip vs deadlift grip, etc).
Start by grasping the bar or handles at the width you desire, making sure that your thumb goes under the bar/handles and your other fingers go on top. The bar/handles should be lined up in the lower third of the fingers (look at your palms, and you will see that the fingers have three distinct sections, each separated by a skin fold. Place the bar/handle where the lower third of the finger connects to the palm. Do not place the bar/handle in the middle of the palm, as this will create slippage of the bar in the palm during lifting and can result in skin tears of the palm.
With the bar/handles in place, take your index, middle, and remaining fingers (at least the index and middle finger) and wrap them on top of the thumb. This will take some time to get used too, and will require you to develop a stronger grip in the process. Once you have wrapped your index and middle finger on top of the thumb (which is wrapped around the bar/handles), squeeze down and trap the thumb under both fingers.
With the thumb secured around the bar/handles, and the other fingers overlapping the thumb, you are now in the hook grip. You may find this to be uncomfortable at first, or even slightly painful on the thumb, however this will go away in time. You can also use tape and wrap your thumb to minimize friction on the inside of the thumb to the bar/handle. Again, this will most likely not be conformable or easy at first, but I assure you that the hook grip is one of the most effective grips for all strength and power athletes and lifters.
ONE MORE HOOK GRIP TIP
While this isn’t a formal step to mastering the hook grip, it can help to reinforce a stronger grip and fast-track the learning process. When grasping the bar/handle using the hook grip (or any grip for that matter), think about gripping the bar not only with the thumb and index finger, but also THE PINKY FINGER. Aggressively wrapping the pinky finger around the bar/handle will help you secure the grip across the entire hand and help you further engage the lats.
Using the hook grip is not only recommended for performance enhancements, it is also a great way to minimize strain on the biceps as you progress in your lifting career, and is 100% necessary for the Olympic lifts (snatch and clean). Use the above step-by-step guide to master the hook grip and stat increasing your grip strength potential today!
About The Author
Mike holds a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting Advanced Coach, and has over 10+ years of experience working with collegiate athletes, national level lifters, and beginners alike. Mike is Founder of J2FIT Strength and Conditioning, a growing global training company with gyms in New York City, Cincinnati, and online offering personal training, online custom coaching programs.
Mike has published over 500+ articles on premiere online media outlets like BarBend, BreakingMuscle, Men’s Health, and FitBob, covering his expertise of strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, fitness, and sports nutrition. In Mike’s spare time, he enjoys the outdoors, traveling the world, coaching, whiskey and craft beer, and spending time with his family and friends.