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Marcus Holden
05-16-2008, 07:36 AM
Hey guys. I'm relatively new to oly lifting. I've been doing power cleans and front squats on and off for years, but only in the last few months have committed to learning full squats cleans, the jerk, and snatch.

I'm really coming along and the movements are feeling more and more natural. Within the past week, I decided to force myself to use a hook grip at all times, because I want to learn it and my impression is that everyone uses this grip. I heard that it's painful at first, but feels more secure.

My problem is the exact opposite: although it isn't perfectly comfortable, it's certainly not painful, and it even feels less secure. It's tough to describe, but when I use a normal, neutral grip, the weight is distributed throughout four fingers. With the hook grip, it hits my ring and pinky finger, then there's a small gap and it rests on my thumb. I've had people at the gym I frequent (crossfit gym with some regular olympic lifters) check out the grip, and they say it looks fine. Still, with the hook grip the bar feels like it's going to slip out of my hands, even when using chalk.

Then, last Saturday, I was telling this to a woman oly lifter. I don't think she's the absolute most experienced person I've talked to, but she was the strength cooach for a woman's olympic team (not oly lifting - some other sport) and competed in college. She told me that the necessity of the hook grip is completely determined by one's grip strength. She said almost all women used a hook grip, expecially on snatches, but she's known competitive male lifters who don't. She said if the bar feels secure in my hands, I shouldn't feel obligated to switch.

She also said hand size is one reason oly lifters use the hook grip. I've never thought of my hands as large, but if I grip an olympic standard bar with just my thumb and index finger to make an 'OK' sign, the tip of my index finger can reach all the way down to where my thumb hits my palm.

So, has anyone else had this problem? (Hook grip feeling comfortable, but insecure and less stable). One possibility is that I'm not lifting that much weight. I'm 180 and can clean 200 and snatch 150 - not terribly impressive numbers, though I've seen a lot of improvement. Maybe as the weight increases my grip will need to change? Then again, I can deadlift 350 and my grip isn't what's preventing me from going higher.

I'm not trying to make excuses. I genuinely want to learn how to use this grip if it will help me - I just wanted to know if you guys think the hook grip necessarily improves everyone's lifts, or if I'm doing it wrong.

Allen Yeh
05-16-2008, 07:59 AM
I had thought the reason for using the hook grip was to counter any bar rotation that goes on?

Garrett Smith
05-16-2008, 08:30 AM
I found out at Steve Cotter's GS seminar that the hook grip is even used in KB sport, only the index finger. This is possible because the competition-style KBs have smaller handles than all the other types I've used.

You could always try loading up a heavy DL and experimenting between the two grips, or maybe try some heavy high hang clean pulls, see if there is any validity to your initial feelings.

Dave Van Skike
05-16-2008, 11:01 AM
I use the hook whenever I can. I even use for mixed grip DL, rack pulls when needed and farmers walk from time to time.

It's worth learning and using even if you have monster diesel grip already.

Marcus Holden
05-16-2008, 11:15 AM
I use the hook whenever I can. I even use for mixed grip DL, rack pulls when needed and farmers walk from time to time.

It's worth learning and using even if you have monster diesel grip already.

Dave

Thanks for the response. I guess my question is not so much "do you benefit from the hook grip?" I assume if you use it a lot that you like it. Rather, I was wondering what were the immediate benefits and drawbacks when you first started using it. Everything I've read suggests discomfort at the start (which soon goes away) but also a recognizably more secure grip. My problem is that the bar actually feels less stable with a hook grip. Did you experience that?

Dave Van Skike
05-16-2008, 11:39 AM
takes a while to get used to it...gets better after that.

Greg Everett
05-17-2008, 01:47 PM
Give it some time. It generally doesn't feel too solid initially, but over time, you'll naturally make fine adjustments to the positioning and settle on one that works for you. Particularly with a snatch width grip, you're going to be hanging primarily on the index and middle fingers - not much purchase on the ring and pinky. It me be that you're trying to force a wrap with all 4 fingers and that's robbing the tension from the hook. Focus on the first two fingers pulling the thumb UP into the hand rather than pressing into the bar and like Dave said, takes a while to get used to it.

Leslie Poole
05-17-2008, 08:05 PM
I am a big fan of the hook grip. I am 6'2, and female, and have somewhat longer hands than the average woman, I suppose. I wrap my middle and ring fingers over the first segment of my thumb. I have a stress reaction in my right ulna that comes and goes, and the hook grip seems to shift the weight to my thumb and therefore my radius, which I really like.

I use it for dead lifts, farmers carries, cleans, etc, but never snatches. Something about the wide grip and the angle, it does not feel good on my thumb. When I clean, I release the grip and cradle the weight in just my fingers when the bar is resting at my shoulders, then regrip with an old fashioned 4 finger grip for the jerk.