T Nation

Is the Hook Grip Really Important?


So i'm guessing this maybe buried in the archives, but i need to ask. Is the hook-grip really important. I am 50 and am attempting to learn the oly lifts after 40 years of boxing and powerlifting. I have read that the hook-grip is essential for the SN and CJ so i am trying to change to it and its not fun, plus i have to take weight off the bar which is already embarassing because since the oly lifts are new and i'm old, i don't have much on the bar to begin with. LOL.

Anyway, in lookin online for instruction i saw the video below of Mr. Hui and if you watch closely he doesn't use the hook-grip in either SN or CJ. And it appears that he does a halfway decent job without it. Would he be puttin another 10 or 20 KG up if he switched?
Obviously for me it not a big deal, but i thought that i would force myself to learn it if it was important. Then i watched this and asked why?



Thats one Olympic level athlete who doesnt. Pretty much every one else does.

-Chalk helps.
-Gets some tape for your thumb.
-Use straps for pulls and snatches.
-Suck it up and use it on Cleans/ Clean and Jerks.
-It's going to hurt untill you get used to it.

You shouldnt have to take weight of the bar, like they say "no pain,no gain".


I'm somewhat similar to you - older (62) PL background, starting to teach myself oly.

I may be wrong, but I am assuming that the hook grip in itself does not cause you to lift more, but allows one to pull more before grip security becomes an issue.
For myself, my O lifts are light compared to what I'm used to (way less than half my deadlift). and while I hope to improve, I don't expect to get to the level that I can't hold on. Anyway, an old thumb injury makes it especially painful on my right thumb. In summary I never intend to hook grip and I don't expect it to be my limitation. Heck, I have plenty of others.


yeah, do the hook grip. it will help in the long-run. Tape your thumbs, particularly the metacarpal of the thumb. chalk + tape + getting used to it = success.


Cprocket- The hook grip
Allows you to hold heavier weight
Releases the bar faster in the clean therefore leting your elbows come around quicker
Takes some arm out of the lift by not making you squeeze the bar as hard.


tell me where he is not using hook grip, his thumbs are taped. He just releases the hook on the catch so it looks like he isnt, but im sure he is hooking

it just looks like hes not hooking when hes setting up, but im 100% sure he puts the thumb in right before he lifts so your just not seeing it.


if you watch this video at the 1:14 mark you can clearly see him move the thumb in right before he lifts the bar from the floor.

Discussion over.


boo swoneD!



Thanks alot,

In the video i posted, they show the hand from behind but it is a few seconds before the actual lift and by then they switch around to the front.

The comment about the hook taking the arm out of the lift a bit as well makes sense.
Being new to these lifts i catch myself trying to use my arms and i know that will get me no where.

Its just that it has taken quite a while getting comfortable with the front squat, catching the clean in a good rack position,and setting up for the jerk with my body and not my arms.

Then i started working on the hook grip and everything started to feel awkward again.

OK OK i'll keep at it.



Apnea Diver, Thanks for your input. As for "Allows you to hold heavier weight", as I noted in my post, I feel that in my case I can hold way more weight than I will ever C or S, so not an issue for me.
The other two points may well be valid. I may give the hook grip another go at some point, but with my old thumb injury, it may never work. In that case, I will just have to do the best I can without it.


cprocket, I broke my right thumb a couple years ago and never had it set or anything so it healed improperly, doesn't have a full range of motion anymore, and hurts at certain angles when flexed. i thought i wouldn't be able to hook grip with it either, but after just a few sessions hook gripping all my sets i was completely comfortable with it, and now i can't imagine attempting a max snatch or c+j without hook gripping the bar. even if you have a secure grip already, i wouldn't be surprised if you got an even more secure grip after adjusting to the hook grip, which could potentially translate into more force being exerted onto the barbell, and eventually higher numbers. just a thought.



The women's bar (I'm a chick) is smaller in circumference then the guys bar.

With the guy's bar if it sits in the crook of my fingers (where it is supposed to be for a deadlift) it is also in the webbing of my thumb (if that makes sense). So it is in a solid position to be pulled and also in a solid position for me to roll my wrists back for the catch.

With the women's bar if it sits in the crook of my fingers (where it is supposed to be for a deadlift) it either skids back along my hand (frigging ouch!!!) when I roll my wrists back for the catch... or it stays in my fingers and my wrists nearly snap off backwards at heavier weights (frigging ouch!!!).

In order for the women's bar to be in the webbing of my thumb (where it needs to be for a solid catch) during the pull I really need to hook most of my thumb in under my fingers so only my thumb and smallest finger is actually making contact with the bar. If I don't hook my thumb under I can't catch it safely.

So... Maybe it does depend a little on the length of your fingers. I do think, though, that your fingers gripping your thumb is more secure than your fingers gripping the bar, though. Does take a while to get used to. My lifts are feeling very strange at the moment because I've only just learned the reason for my wrist problems. I figure I'll get used to it soon enough, though.


Some lifters release the hook grip and others don't.

I grip it like I'm choking a chicken and never release it for Sn. I do release for Cleans. Some lifters also Jerk with a hook grip.

I'd advise you to just get use to it. But depending now strong your grip is you may not need to hook grip it. You'll get use to it and soon enough you'll be hook gripping your steering wheel, random bars and anything else you can grip...



True dat.


The hook grips ensures that the bar does not move in your palm as it travels upwards after ripping it off the floor. With a regular grip the bar will slide a bit in your palm making your technique less efficient, you will lose some momentum. As others said, you will get used to it.


i went back to the hook today,

yeah it still feels awkward, but i did put up my best SN to-date, and with the heavy weight(heavy for me) i didn't have time to think about it.

i'm just glad tork94 has such an eagle-eye and took the time to point it out.

Because i had seen the clip he posted, but had not caught the hook being set right before the lift. And i just figured Mr. Hui doesn't use it, why should i.

Thanks for all the input.



LBramble, yeah it takes getting use to but once you've got it, you've got it.

Before tork94 pointed it out I was thinking WTF?! No way did Hui not use hook grip!