Pro Tip: Hook-Grip Your Cleans!

If you've been having a hard time maintaining your grip on your hang cleans, or have been feeling the fatigue set in on sets of 3's, a quick way to alleviate your issue is start using a hook grip. The hook grip is the go-to method of choice for every high-level weightlifter, and is only typically used on Olympic weightlifting movements (cleans and snatches).

A standard overhand grip can be a limiting factor on your hang cleans because the muscles of the individual fingers are stressed when pulling on the bar. As you accelerate into the second pull, the bar tries to "roll" out of the fingers. Olympic weightlifting movements happen at such a high velocity that the stress on the fingers can become too great and cause your grip to fatigue faster than your actual lifting mechanics.

Easy to set up, harder to get used to, but worth the effort.

Easy to set up, harder to get used to, but worth the effort.

A hook grip is set up by placing your index and middle finger OVER your thumb when gripping the bar. The placement of the thumb under the fingers helps to eliminate the rolling forces on the fingers and allows the lifter to exert up to 2 to 3 more times the force into the bar. With that being said, if you haven't been used a hook grip before, your thumbs may end up pretty chewed up for the first few weeks.



You will eventually condition your hands enough to withstand the new levels of friction from the bar, but that transition can be rough. A good way to mitigate the amount of physical wear and tear is wrap your thumbs in a few light strands of athletic tape.

Using a hook grip helps keep the bar from rolling out of your fingers during the second pull of your cleans.

Using a hook grip helps keep the bar from rolling out of your fingers during the second pull of your cleans.

Like with most things in life, the more you practice, the better you get. The more reps you put in, the more comfortable your hands will feel with the hook grip. You can always resort back to a standard overhand grip if you want to work that grip strength a little extra, but once you start hook-gripping (and nailing every hang clean), you won't want to go back. 


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Jace Derwin is one of the regular contributors to the Volt blog. He is a CSCS-certified strength coach, the lead Sports Performance Specialist at Volt and a Lift Big Eat Big athlete.
Learn more about Jace and read his other posts | @VoltCoachJace