woman holding a barbell in a crossfit competition

Weightlifting Hook Grip: How to Do It + Benefits

Weightlifting Hook Grip: How to Do It + Benefits

When lifting heavier weights — or lighter weights for higher reps — you probably notice something surprising. Your body isn’t giving out, but your grip is. In fact, maybe you’ve experienced that during a workout, your grip was the limiting factor! We know just what you need. Let’s get into all the details about the weightlifting hook grip. In this blog, you’ll learn what it is, how it can help you, and how to do it.

What is the Weightlifting Hook Grip?

It’s natural to grab the barbell the same way you’d grab anything else. Your four fingers grasp on, and then your thumb wraps around your fingers. This is probably the grip you used when you first started lifting weights. Here’s what it looks like:

female with barbell on her back

Note that the thumb is over the other fingers.

However, this isn’t the best approach. Use this method too long and your hands will burn with the fire of a thousand suns. Suck it up and keep powering through your reps, and you’re seconds away from blisters and rips. Yikes.

This is where the weightlifting hook grip comes into play. With the hook grip, you wrap your thumb around the barbell first, and then your four fingers on top of that. So, your fingers help to lock in both the barbell and your thumbs. 

Furthermore, note that the thumb isn’t merely pinned to the barbell by the fingers. Rather, the four fingers help to pull and wrap the thumb further around the bar, giving you more purchase. Neat!

Here's how a proper hook grip looks like:

female athlete in a snatch lift position

 This is going to feel super awkward the first time you try in. In fact, you might resist, insisting that the other way is “just fine.” It’s not, and we’ll tell you why.

What’s the Benefit of the Weightlifting Hook Grip?

The hook grip offers a number of pros over the standard weightlifting grip that you’re using right now.

First, consider the fact that the thumb gives the rest of the fingers something to hang onto. The alternative is that the four fingers have to hang onto the bar, which is smooth and sometimes slippery. But in the case of the weightlifting hook grip, the fingers don’t grasp the bar. They grasp the thumb, which is much more secure.

Second, the hook grip is going to make it a lot harder for the bar to escape your hands. Think about it. Your four fingers all open in the same direction. If you’re using a standard grip and your fingers give out, your thumbs aren’t going to be able to stop the barbell from sliding out of your grasp.

But with the hook grip, your thumbs close around the bar in one direction, and then your fingers close around it as a second layer in the opposite direction. This is going to make it really difficult for the barbell to go flying out of your hands.

Third, and just as important, because the hook grip is more secure overall, you’re not going to need to grab the bar as tightly. Your fingers, hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders — all of them are going to relax. This matters because tensing all of these muscles up throws your lift out of whack.

A tight upper body means that you’re going to swing the barbell out in front of you during the Olympic lifts, as opposed to letting it slide up against your body, where you want it. It’s also going to be easier to get in the front rack and overhead position, where your elbows and wrists need to be more mobile.

female holding a barbell overhead

How to Do the Hook Grip for Weightlifting

Now that you know what the hook grip is and why you need it, let’s talk about how to do it, step by step.

Step 1: Tape Your Thumbs

Rip it (no scissors needed!) and secure the end. Then, squeeze your thumb with the opposite hand to mold the tape to your finger for a perfectly customized fit.

Step 2: Position Your Hand at the Barbell

Wherever you’d normally grip the barbell is where you will hook grip it, also. Between your thumb and index finger, you’ll see a bit of loose skin that connects the two. With your fingers spread apart, put your hands on the barbell so that the bar is resting right on that webbing. Push your hands into the bar so that it rests deeper between your thumbs and index fingers.

athlete setting up on barbell with weightlifting hook grip

Step 3: Wrap Your Fingers

Wrap your thumbs around the bar as far as they’ll go. Then, wrap your fingers on top of that. Your index and middle fingers should be on top of your thumbs. Depending on how long your thumbs are, your ring fingers might be also. Whatever fingers aren’t wrapped around your thumbs should be gripping the barbell itself.

And that’s it! You’re now officially using the hook grip. We know it might feel weird. Really weird. But trust us: Give it a chance and you’re going to wonder how you ever lifted without it.

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