More than likely, when you first started your CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting journey, you grabbed the barbell with your four fingers wrapping around it first, and then your thumb wrapping over your fingers last. This is instinct. But soon enough, your coach teaches you something called the hook grip — and your whole world changes.

What is the Hook Grip?

With the hook grip, we flip things around: Your thumb wraps around the bar first, and then your fingers go over your thumb. Essentially, you’re trapping your thumb between your fingers and the bar.

Here’s a demo of the hook grip.

We’ll tell you right now: The first several times you use a hook grip, it’s going to feel incredibly awkward and you’re going to want to go back to what you know. But wait! There’s a really good reason to use a hook grip.

Several, actually.

Why You Should Use a Hook Grip

1. It’s Like Lifting With Straps… But Without Straps

The hook grip makes it easier to hang onto the barbell. You don’t need to use as much force and strength to hang onto it, so it seriously saves your grip.

When your lifts get heavier, you might notice that the first thing to go is your grip. The hook grip prevents this from happening, so that soreness and fatigue in your hands and fingers isn’t nearly as much of an issue. Plus, your forearms and elbows get a huge break, too.

This is an especially big bonus for competitive Olympic weightlifters, who aren’t allowed to use lifting straps. Thanks to the hook grip, you can still reap the benefits without them.

2. You Can Better Prevent the Barbell From Rolling

When you use a standard grip, a heavy barbell can easily roll out of your fingers. With the hook grip, though — and the way your thumb is now trapped — this can’t happen. If the barbell rolls one way, it hits your fingers. If it rolls the other way, it hits your thumb.

And because your thumb isn’t going anywhere, the barbell isn’t, either.

3. You Can Lift More

This was probably already evident by this point, but just in case, we’re going to point it out anyway.

Thanks to the hook grip, you can lift more. More reps, more weight. We call that a win.

You’re able to hang on to the bar better and longer, your grip lasts longer, and the bar is more stable. All of this means that while you might only be able to deadlift 100kg with a traditional grip, you might be able to pull 110kg with a hook grip.

We know it feels uncomfortable when you’re new to it, but give it a chance. We promise it’ll be worth it.

A Note About Comfort

With the hook grip, you might notice that your thumbs start to feel sore or develop calluses. Worry not. A couple layers of thumb tape will do the trick. It should be snug but not overly tight and certainly not uncomfortable. Make sure to apply tape to clean fingers (read: before you chalk up!).

Do you already use a hook grip? Let us know in the comments below!