The In's and Out's of the Hookgrip

Jason Li, Exercise Science BS, USAW LVL2, Catalyst Athletics LVL1, NSCA-CPT

It seems that to this day people still have a ton of questions around the hookgrip and why one might choose to use the hookgrip when lifting a barbell. Let’s quickly go over “What is a hookgrip” and some of the advantages it offers. A hookgrip is where a lifter hooks their thumb over the barbell first before folding the index and middle finger over it essentially pinning the thumb into the barbell. This is opposed to a normal grip where the thumb is placed on the outside. Refer to the pictures to help visualize the difference:

 

Hookgrip

Normal grip

Step 1

 

 

Step 2

 

 

Step 3

 

 

 

I previously wrote about the advantages of a Hookgrip in Olympic lifting in an older post “What is the Hookgrip and Why do we use it?” where you can check out a more detailed explanation of the advantages to using such a grip. Here’s the quick-notes version of that article to help summarize things:

-Rather than solely relying on grip strength the hookgrip allows the forearms to relax while a mechanically secure grip is used to hold onto the barbell

-Faster turnover for Olympic lifts

-It doesn’t inherently create imbalances like a mixed grip does for deadlifting

When you first start using the hookgrip it can be uncomfortable due to the pressure of the index and middle finger squeezing the thumb against the metal barbell. Two ways you can help alleviate it is by taping the thumb or interchangeably using straps every once in a while. For tape I strongly recommend using our LiftGenie stretch athletic tape that provides good adherence to skin while also being elastic enough to not cut off circulation to the thumb. It is also easy to tear with no hassle. 

How to use tape for Hookgrip:

Step 1: Unroll a piece of the tape and stick it to your thumb.

 

Step 2: Take the roll and lightly pull on it as you wrap it around. This step is really important to help the tape stick to the thumb. Be careful to not pull the tape too tightly around since this can cut off circulation. 

 

Step 3: Make sure to bend the thumb slightly as you wrap the tape around your thumb 2-3 times to make sure the tape doesn’t become too rigid and inhibit thumb movement. 

 

Step 4: Once you’ve wrapped the thumb a 2-3 times pinch and tear the tape starting from the edge. Be sure that the tape is pulled tightly before you tear to prevent the tape from sticking to itself.

 

 

There’s some small debate about whether a mixed grip or the hookgrip is superior however this is a pointless debate as heavy weights have been lifted using both grips and just depends on which one affords the lifter with the most comfort and consistency. Some lifters worry about the uneven  development they might get from using a mixed grip and choose to use a hookgrip while some feel more “locked-in” with the mix grip and therefore favor it. It is a matter of preference. 

If you are interested in trying the hookgrip for the first time make sure you have some stretch athletic tape available, straps, and some patience. It can be uncomfortable at first but after some practice can be a great tool to be used for pulling big weights. If you liked this post or any of our other posts leave a comment to let us know and we’ll keep putting out more.