A Guide to Breaking in Your Grips

April 23, 2023 by
Image Credit: Ava Kitzi
Enjoying Morning Chalk Up? Access additional exclusive interviews, analyses, and stories with an Rx membership.

CrossFitters love new gear–shoes, belts, a new pair of NOBULL shorts, and everything in between. Arguably one of the most useful among them is gymnastics grips, which give competitive athletes and regular weekend warriors alike a protective barrier between their hands and the bar as well as increased endurance. 

Background: The idea of grips stretch back to the 1990s, when they became popular among gymnasts. At the time (and to this day in the sport of gymnastics) they were made entirely of leather, which is notoriously tough at first use. While the majority–over 75%, according to Victory Grips’ founder Victor Pellegrino–of CrossFit grips employ a synthetic blend, it can still take a few uses to get your new grips fully comfortable and competition-ready. 

Best practices: Pellegrino recommends always having three pairs of grips in rotation–a beaten up, well-worn pair, a brand new pair, and one that’s right in the middle. This way, you’re never caught without at least one pair that’s dependable. 

  • It’s also recommended that you buy a new set every six to nine months, depending on the volume they’ve tackled. 
  • Depending on your personal preferences and the amount of training you do, there’s a wide variety of material options from leather and kevlar to rubber and synthetic mixes.

Breaking in your grips: Five strategies for success

  1. Use water 
Image Credit: Ava Kitzi 

Water, sweat, or spit can help loose tight leather and makes chalk more tacky on the bar. Simply spray water lightly on your grips before knocking out a set of pullups or other exercises. 

  1. Rolling
Image Credit: Ava Kitzi

Rolling your grips from the end to base, where the leather attaches to the strap, can again help loosen the fibers. 

  1. Hanging
Image Credit: Ava Kitzi

A number of movements will help get your grips into fighting shape, chiefly among them being any sort of hanging, since that’s what most people use their grips for. Also, there’s no need to knock out huge sets of bar muscle ups or chest-to-bar pullups–kips or even dead hangs will get the same stimulus in. 

  1. Deadlifts and other barbell movements
Image Credit: Ava Kitzi

While it may feel weird doing hang power cleans with gymnastics grips, any barbell movement that puts stress on your grips will get them broken in faster. 

  1. Rowing
Image Credit: Ava Kitzi

Last, one of the best ways to put pressure on your new pair of grips without putting your body under the same pressure is rowing. Just by doing your warmup row with your grips on, you’ll ensure they’re ready for a max set of pullups in no time. 

The bottom line: While most CrossFit grips are deemed ready to be worn out of the box, it can still take 5-10 uses to get them broken in. If you’re looking to speed up the process, these tips can help you get to where you want to be. 

Pellegrino: “It’s not rocket science, it’s just about playing around and taxing the grips in a way that won’t tax your body.”

Get the Newsletter

For a daily digest of all things CrossFit. Community, Competitions, Athletes, Tips, Recipes, Deals and more.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.