Hook Grip v. Traditional Overhand Grip
You’ve probably been there countless times: warming up for snatch day and your coach is yelling at you, ‘hook grip!’ You start to roll your eyes because every time you try to hook grip the bar you feel like your thumbs are being pulled out of their sockets. If this is the type of reaction you have when your coach tells you to hook grip, then you probably are not doing it correctly and don’t understand the importance of it. Knowing how to hook grip correctly and understanding its importance is crucial to improving your olympic lifts.
How do you make a hook grip?
This is a type of pronated grip where the palms face toward the lifter and the thumb is wrapped around the bar inside the fingers. A common mistake that new lifters make is to smash the thumb against the bar with their fingers, which is actually very uncomfortable and does not feel secure. As a result, new lifters tend to question the importance and functionality of the hook grip.
When the hook grip is done correctly, the fingers grab onto the thumb and pull it farther around the bar which then creates a ridge for the fingers to dig into. This makes gripping the barbell easier and naturally reinforces the strength of your grip.
Why use the hook grip?
Using a hook grip creates a system that balances the tendency of the bar to roll. In a traditional overhand grip, the barbell is supported by the fingers which all open in the same direction. This increases the chance that the barbell will roll backwards out of the hand. Using a hook grip stabilizes the bar so that it can’t roll backwards while also allowing for correct positioning of the hands and arms.
Having a more secure grip on the bar actually allows you to grip with less tension during a lift. This is important because the more relaxed an athlete keeps their hands during a lift, the more relaxed their arms will be, and the better the transmission of force from the legs to the bar will be.
Finally, Using a hook grip allows the bar to travel in the direction you want it to – in a straight line close to the body. When you use a traditional overhand grip there is more of a tendency for the barbell to travel out away from your body.
When do you use the hook grip?
The hook grip is used during lifts where the barbell is being pulled from the ground, such as the snatch, clean, or deadlift. Oftentimes athletes make the mistake of using a hook grip during presses or squats. The hook grip should not be used during these movements because it can actually limit mobility and/or stability in those positions and make the movements more difficult.