The hook grip is the hand placement used in the sport of Weightlifting to create a secure connection to a barbell during explosive movement. This grip is achieved by tucking the thumb as deeply as possible underneath the index and middle fingers of the same hand. Covering the maximum amount of thumb your hand size allows is paramount. The more of the thumb that is covered by your first two fingers the more friction will be created. This friction causes a tighter and stronger grip without the use of excessive muscle strain. Your thumb will take the brunt of this tighter connection and it will be very sore for a few weeks. With dedication and consistent use your thumb will adapt and soreness will no longer be an issue. There are many reasons why you’ll want to tough out this conditioning period. Some are very obvious, while others may be slightly less apparent.
First off, it’s a stronger grip. Barbells are designed to spin. When the bar is lifted the collars turn so that the bar can remain stationary in our hands and reduce wear and tear on the joints of our wrists, elbows and shoulders. When using the double overhand grip there is friction on only one side of the bar and the bar will naturally turn out of your fingers. Placing your thumb under your first two fingers creates friction on both sides of the bar and will therefore reduce the rotational force and allow you to more easily hold weight securely.
A secure connection to the barbell is essential. As we cross the knees and approach mid-thigh, when lifting a snatch or clean, a violent and explosive acceleration will occur. This is commonly referred to as the second pull. If the grip is loosening at this point the athlete’s brain will immediately recognize and compensate to keep the bar in the athletes hands. Common faults associated with this situation are early bending of the arms, slowing of the second pull and excessive use of the upper body to lift the bar upwards. All of these mistakes will minimally affect novice lifters, but as an athlete progresses, incorrect movement patterns will be engrained and progress will grind to a screeching halt.
One more way this amazing grip benefits us is that it takes less energy to maintain than the double overhand. Imagine swinging a golf club with a white knuckle grip. This grip is going to radiate stiffness up your arms and result in swing that is anything but smooth. You need a smooth swing! Or in the case of Weightlifting, smooth timing of the third pull to change your body’s direction and pull yourself underneath the bar. By maintaining a strong grip and keeping the arms relaxed we can most accurately and consistently time the transition and relocation to our receiving position underneath the barbell.
The hook grip is essential to Weightlifting. It creates a stronger connection to the bar that allows you to move heavy weights with a level of coordination and agility that cannot be achieved with any other grip. Consistent use of this technical hand placement will allow you to progress as an athlete more quickly and further than without. Furthermore, extension of this grip into any CrossFit workout involving pulling on a bar or dumbbells will provide incredible advantage over a standard grip for the same reasons.