In a video posted in the CrossFit Journal, Coach Mike Burgener mentions that he not only requires all of his students to use the hook grip, he himself uses it while he is driving his car, “because it feels so damn good.” Now, whether or not you use the hook grip on your steering wheel, I don’t care. However, if you are not using the hook grip when you snatch or clean, it’s time to give it a shot.
The hook grip is an Olympic weightlifting technique that involves first gripping your thumb over the bar and then wrapping your first and second fingers over your thumb, so that your thumb is sandwiched between your fingers and the barbell. This positioning on the barbell creates a much more secure hold on the bar (versus the traditional natural grip). The hook grip becomes increasingly more important when pulling heavy loads and controlling the bar during the rapid hip extension involved in the clean and the snatch.
The transition to using the hook grip can be a little uncomfortable, just like any other transition we make in the gym. It took me about two weeks to really get used to the grip, and to see any real results from it. After getting accustomed to the hook grip, I will never grab a barbell the same. I even use the hook grip with heavier dumbbell snatches. I wasn’t able to pull the 70 lb dumbbell until I utilized the slightest hook grip I could eek by on the fatter handles of the dumbbell. At that point I was able to use all of my hip drive and still keep control of the dumbbell. Snatching the 70 lb dumbbell was a huge feat for me, and the hook grip has been my best bud ever since! I would be willing to wager a few bucks that if you aren’t using the hook grip on your snatches and cleans, you aren’t pulling to your potential. Give it a shot; get over that two week period of awkwardness, and PR already!