How Experienced Lifters Can Improve Their Hook Grip
I have a ton of athletes who say they have small hands and struggle hook gripping the bar. The greatest male pound for pound weightlifter of ALL TIME was 4″10. Pocket Hercules (Naim Suleymanglou). And he hook gripped. I’ll share a nerd story at the end about him too but if he can, so can you.
Hook Grip Pro Tip #1: Thumbs go ACROSS the bar, not just down!
Too many athletes just drape their thumb straight down and don’t focus on going ACROSS the bar with it. Go across and down at a 45 degree angle, not just down! This will give you more purchase on the bar, allowing an additional finger to help your thumb stay shut!
Hook Grip Pro Tip #2: Tape your thumbs!
I highly recommend thumb tape. This will mean less tearing of your thumb, and for me, it makes it feel more rugged – which I like for my grip. I personally use stretch tape so it still stays thin, yet there is enough pliability in the tape for my thumb to have its full range of motion.
Hook Grip Fun Fact
Did you know that it is illegal for your thumb tape to completely cover the top of your fingernail in weightlifting competitions? I can’t confirm this story is 100% true but all my old weightlifting coaches used to tell me it but… rumor has it that Pocket Hercules, and other shorter lifters back in the day, used to try everything to improve their hookgrip. Even going as far as attaching a wooden dowel to their second thumb joint – essentially extending their thumb to get a deeper hook grip! They would then tape over that small wooden dowel so the judges couldn’t see it. During that era they announced a rule where you have to see the top of the fingernail when using thumb tape – to ensure lifters weren’t artificially enhancing their thumb length. It’s pretty common practice still to this day to have shorter lifters at that level have very long thumbnails! It’s not just a matter of inches at the top level, but centimeters! The amount of detail they go into to get every advantage possible is pretty wild.
I just thought I’d share a little fun backstory on the weightlifting rule and why it was implemented. All of that to say, use a hookgrip, try thumb tape, and grip your thumb across the bar more!
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