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How to Make the Hook Grip Less Painful?


Having a strong grip is very important when it comes to lifting things, and there are definitely a lot of useful tips and techniques out there in order to increase grip strength. However, grabbing and holding on to dumbbells, barbells, and other things using a hook grip is easier said than done and something that a lot will struggle with and won’t feel comfortable doing.

So how do we make the hook grip less painful? Before we get to that, let’s first define “hook grip” and go through how long it usually takes to get accustomed to it.                

According to Jim Schmitz, a weightlifting team coach and author of Olympic-style Weightlifting for Beginner & Intermediate Weightlifters manual and DVD, the hook grip is where you push the palm of your hand tight against the bar, grab the bar by wrapping your thumb around it, and then grasp your thumb and the bar tightly with your fingers.  

He added that most people can grab the thumb with their first two fingers while their other two fingers will directly grab the bar. This is the reason why this technique can really help us lift more weight off the platform, especially when we try to accelerate for the second pull.                                                          

Being comfortable with weightlifting hook grips takes generally about two weeks and hooking on all lifts (snatch, clean and pulls) makes a lot of people resistant in Jim’s decades of experience. 

Pain, pain go away!              

Using a hook grip offers a lot of benefits from avoiding potential bicep tears, better positioning and a more symmetrical pull among others. Despite its advantages, a lot of people back off due to awful finger and thumb pain.

Some say that for the most part, people tend to exaggerate the pain while others say that the majority of lifters who gave up with hook grips didn’t stick long enough for them to become comfortable with it.  

a guy preparing to lift a barbell

a guy putting a powder on his hand

To feel less pain, make sure you chalk your thumbnails and add two or more layers of kinesiology tape to prevent callus ripping. Using wrist wraps and hook grip straps will also help since these gym gears provide a tighter grip and added traction. This ensures lifting stability and additional workout protection. 

Aside from using gym gears and accessories, you should get three fingers over your thumb and practice touching the base of your little finger with your thumb with the bar. We suggest to start small, incorporate it only 2-3 times a workout and slowly work your way up.               

The thing with lifting grips is that it really takes time to get used to it but once you do, it ends up surprising you in ways you couldn’t imagine. Using hook grips is not as bad as perceived by others and as long as you’re willing to use the gym gears/accessories that we mentioned and have the ability to cross your hook grip pain threshold then you’ll likely be accustomed to hook grips as time goes by.

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