Hook Grip Mastery: Everything you Need to Know


Today’s post is the most complete guide to the weightlifting hook grip.

In this new guide, you’ll learn the answers to the most popular questions about hook grip technique.

Whether you’re a beginner lifter to the hook grip or a veteran coach seeking to increase your weightlifting knowledge, you’ll get a lot of value from today’s guide.

Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover:

Let’s get started.

What Does a Hook Grip Look Like?

Basically, the hook grip looks like a fist with the thumb tucked inside. But the actual representation depends on factors like:

  1. your thumb length,
  2. your thumb girth,
  3. tendon flexibility in your thumb,
  4. the length of your fingers, and
  5. the girth of your fingers.

For example, here are four different representations among professional Chinese weightlifters:


You can see differences in how far the thumb moves across the palm.

Differences in which fingers wrap around the thumb.

Differences in how many fingers wrap around the thumb.

And how much the palm folds onto itself.

The point is there is no single way the hook grip should look.

When learning or teaching how to hook grip, there will be individual differences but they all should follow the same process.

How Do You Make a Hook Grip?

To make a hook grip, follow this 4-step process:

  1. Keep your arms relaxed as you press the web between your thumb and index finger deep into the bar. You’ll notice your thumb begin to internally rotate from this motion.
  2. Next, wrap your thumb around the bar as far as possible. This “hook” creates a shelf to rest the bar and apply force from the thumb.
  3. Then, wrap your fingers around the outer edge of your thumb and bar. This step creates a second “hook” where the fingers compress the thumb to prevent it from externally rotating.
  4. This part is optional: gently tug on the barbell to avoid resting the bar directly on a bony area or blood vessel, ensuring the compression on the thumb feels comfortable.


Depending on the shape of your hand, you might wrap 1 – 3 fingers around the thumb.

And then, your remaining fingers will wrap around the bar to provide support.

In China, some weightlifters will wrap their index and middle fingers over their thumb.

But other Chinese weightlifters will wrap their middle and ring fingers over their thumb.

There is no single way.

The most important aspect is to grip comfortably rather than forcing your hook grip to look like someone else’s.

How the Hook Grip Works

Regardless of what your hook grip looks like, the hook grip creates a secure grip by:

  1. Assisting internal rotation of your hand and forearm.
  2. Producing a shape change in the hand for your thumb to apply force into the bar directly.
  3. Creating a double layer of resistance against the bar.
  4. Creating an interlocking system to prevent the bar from rolling.
  5. Equalizing pressure in your hand to restrict the bar’s movement.

Let’s go deeper into each of these mechanisms.

Weightlifting Hook Grip: Mechanism 1

One way the hook grip works is by helping produce internal rotation in the hand and forearm, which produces more force into the bar.

To understand this, hold your arm in front of you with your thumb pointing to the ceiling.

Then internally rotate your thumb into your palm until your body reaches its end range of motion, like this:

Notice how leading with your thumb induces your wrist, elbow, and shoulder to follow.

This internal rotation frees your elbows and/or shoulders from internally rotating as much to secure the bar.

Weightlifting Hook Grip: Mechanism 2

Another way the hook grip works is by producing a shape change in the hand.

This shape change lets you access a space where your thumb can internally rotate and apply force to the bar.

This image shows the excursion of the thumb as it externally rotates and internally rotates across the left palm.


The red space is where the thumb produces more of an internal rotation (IR) force.

The blue space is where the thumb produces more of an external rotation (ER) force.

And the deeper your thumb can reach into this IR space, the more your palm will fold.

This fold increases the relative length of the thumb and its leverage to apply force.

But during a normal grip, much of this IR space is not available because your fingers are in the way.

While the palm does fold during a normal grip, it is more limited than a hook grip.

And if you try to internally rotate your thumb in the same way as a hook grip, then the folding will deform your fist.

This difference makes the hook grip a superior grip.

Weightlifting Hook Grip: Mechanism 3

A third way the hook grip works is by creating a double layer of resistance against the bar:


This system works by positioning your thumb and fingers to apply force to the bar.

Internal rotation is how your body produces force.

When you hold a barbell with a normal grip, only your fingers are in the red internal rotation (IR) space.

So you only have one layer of resistance to counter the downward force from the bar.

And notice how your thumb is near the blue external rotation (ER) space.

In this location, your thumb is more prone to opening rather than applying force.

You can try this yourself.

Try pressing your thumb towards your fingers, and you’ll feel a weak force.

However, with a hook grip, your thumb enters the red IR space as it wraps underneath the bar.

This orientation forms another layer of resistance.

And you’ll feel your thumb gain a greater ability to apply force.

But that’s not all!

Weightlifting Hook Grip: Mechanism 4

Your thumb and fingers open/externally rotate in opposite directions.

And during a hook grip, your thumb interlocks with your fingers, like this:


This orientation makes it harder for the bar to open your hand.

But during a normal grip, your thumb lacks this capability.

So your fingers must do all the work to prevent the bar from rolling.

Weightlifting Hook Grip: Mechanism 5

The last way the hook grip works is by equalizing pressure in your thumb to prevent its movement.

During an Olympic lift with hook grip, the bar compresses the inner edge of your thumb pad as you start to lift.

This compression moves the fluid in the thumb pad toward the outer edge and causes it to expand.

It’s like pressing on one side of a balloon and causing the other side to expand.

And your thumb will move in the direction of this expansion unless you can close this space.

Now, since your fingers wrap along the outer edge of your thumb, they are positioned to block this expansion.

As your fingers compress against this expansion, the fluid in your thumb will move back toward the inner edge.

You can test this yourself by pressing your left fingers onto the outer edge of your right thumb pad, like this:


And the further you wrap your fingers around your thumb during the hook grip, the more surface area padding they can press against.

This fluid shift increases the pressure against the bar, which prevents it from rolling.

It also prevents your thumb from moving, which helps preserve your grip.

Why is the Hook Grip Better?

Given the mechanics described above, the hook grip is better than a normal grip because you can:

  1. Grip the bar more securely compared to a normal overhead grip.
  2. Reduce the need for a compensatory strategy.

Because the hook grip changes the shape of your hand to apply greater force and creates a system to prevent the bar from rolling, it is a much more secure grip.

But how does a hook grip reduce the need for a compensatory strategy?


Basically, if you can’t produce force in one area, you must produce force elsewhere.

Otherwise, you won’t be able to lift the weight.

Remember, your thumb internally rotates to create a hook grip, which helps drive internal rotation in the rest of the arm.

Without the hook grip, it is easier to rely on compensatory strategies to secure the bar.

There are many compensatory strategies discussed in our Chinese weightlifting book, but here are several common ones.

Why Hook Grip: Compensation 1

First, some athletes will actively point their knuckles to the floor or flex their wrists to increase their wrap around the bar. Like this:


However, wrist flexion moves your arms away from your torso and alters your movement strategy for the snatch or clean.

If you can’t maintain wrist flexion during the snatch or clean, then your wrists will straighten and create downward + forward momentum.

In this case, you must prevent the bar from pulling you down or forward.

And the common strategy to produce force is concentrically orienting your back muscles and rear deltoids excessively.

But what if you’re really strong and can maintain your wrist flexion?

In this case, the bar will reach your contact point early.

During early contact, your legs aren’t in an optimal position for the extension.

So, your upper body must do more work to lift and catch the bar.

Why Hook Grip: Compensation 2

Another common compensatory strategy is flexing the elbows, like this:


Flexing your elbows is a similar strategy to flexing your wrists and sometimes occurs together.

If your arms are unable to stay flexed during the deadlift portion of the snatch or clean, then they will straighten and create downward momentum on the bar.

But there’s another issue.

Since you’re bent over the bar, flexing your elbows concentrically orients your back muscles and creates a rowing motion.

Rowing the bar as you stand can increase the collision between the bar and your hips.

This collision can send the bar forward and throw off your catch.

Why Hook Grip: Compensation 3

Another common compensatory strategy is internally rotating your elbows excessively, like this:


This movement increases your pronation capability to aid your grip.

However, it also eccentrically orients your mid-back muscles and rounds your spine.

This position reduces the force capability of your mid-back.

So, what must do more work to raise your torso?

Your lower back and neck.

These compensatory strategies all reduce your force transfer during the snatch and clean.

But a hook grip helps you relax your arms and avoid these compensatory strategies.

Is Hook Grip Better?

Yes, research indicates a hook grip allows you to lift more weight and optimize the force you can transfer into the bar.

A small study by Oranchuk et al. (2019) shows you can lift a higher 1RM power clean using a hook grip compared to a normal grip.


This higher 1RM occurs in several ways:

First, the bar moves substantially faster during the power clean at most intensities with a hook grip than a normal grip (see the first chart).

Second, power output increases substantially when your intensity reaches 80% or higher with a hook grip than a normal grip (see the second chart).

This is normal because:

power = force * velocity

So, you should expect more power if your velocity increases, even if your force stays the same.

Finally, as the intensity increases, athletes who use a hook grip tend to catch the bar at a substantially higher front squat position than with a normal grip (see the third chart).

This result makes sense because it is easy to catch the bar at a high front squat position (regardless of grip) when the weight is light.

In another version, Oranchuk et al. (2018) found small differences in peak vertical displacement (0.95 – 1.94%).


This result means athletes lifted the bar to nearly the same height regardless of the grip they used.

It makes sense because you need to create enough space to catch the bar, no matter what technique you use.

But how are athletes able to move the bar faster and catch the bar 4.35 – 12.35% higher with the hook grip?

It could be that the hook grip allowed athletes to sustain good posture during the deadlift phase.

Or it could be the hook grip prevented the bar from slipping during the extension, which allows the athlete to continue accelerating the bar.

The study did not test those issues.

However, the results suggest athletes used a different movement strategy between grips.

And the compensatory strategy with a normal grip delayed their timing to pull under and dampened their catch.

Not only does this delay affect your technique, but it also affects your connective tissues.


If you dampen your catch, then you slow the rate of loading on your connective tissues.

So your tissues will train to be less stiff and less apt to produce force.

The result is a negative effect on maximizing your power clean.

And if you’re using the power clean as part of a vertical jump program, it might not improve your jumping.

It might even be counterproductive!

How Long Does it Take to Learn the Hook Grip?

Learning how to hook grip is very easy and usually just takes a few sets to understand it.

However, getting accustomed to the pressure and friction from the hook grip takes about two weeks.

The key is to use the hook grip frequently to shorten the time to acclimate your hands.

In China, beginners learn how to hook grip as they begin learning weightlifting technique.


Beginners can use a PVC or kid’s bar and add weight gradually before moving on to a women’s bar or men’s bar.

This progression can ease the pressure on their thumbs.

But what if you can’t frequently train your weightlifting technique?

No worries!

You can learn how to hook grip by increasing your exposure during bodybuilding movements, such as hook grip rows, hook grip pullups, etc.

Can You Hook Grip With Small Hands? 

This is a common concern among men, but yes, you can perform a hook grip with small hands.

A study by Shuai (1991) recommends a minimum thumb length of 5.91cm +- 0.15cm to perform a hook grip comfortably with an IWF men’s barbell.

How did he find this?

Shuai examined the thumb length of 154 professional, male, Chinese weightlifters.

He measured the distance from the tip of the thumb to its metacarpal joint (see the red line below):


Then he recorded his findings over various weight classes and found the average thumb length in the 52kg class to be about 5.91cm +- 0.15cm.


Shuai worried if any outliers were driving the results.

So he then measured the thumb length among Chinese national and world snatch champions from 1984 – 1986.


Notice how Qiu Yuanfu (52kg) could snatch over double bodyweight with a thumb length of 5.5cm!

Meanwhile, Zeng Guoqiang and Zhang Shoulie (52kg) have 6.4cm thumb lengths!

5.5cm and 6.4cm are about three standard deviations away from the average Shuai calculated, which is exceptional even among elites in lightweight classes.

Since the outliers are evenly spread, Shuai recommends a thumb length of 5.91cm as a comfortable minimum for adult men.

So, next time you wonder, “how to hook grip with small hands?” measure your thumbs to make sure you actually have small hands.

Are Hands too Small for Hook Grip?

If your hands are small (i.e., close to 5.91cm or below), then you can enhance your hook grip with:

  1. Grip Adjustment
  2. Grip-enhancing agents such as:
    • Chalk
    • Liquid Chalk
    • Liquid Resin

Hook Grip Small Hands: Grip Adjustment

There’s no denying it: the hook grip is more effective with a longer thumb.

Shuai (1991) found having a longer thumb (hence, a more effective hook grip) highly correlates with better snatch performance.


But with small hands, it’s difficult to rely on the length of your fingers and thumb to secure your grip.

Fortunately, there’s a solution.

You can try adjusting your grip by internally rotating your thumb further across your palm, like this:


This grip adjustment folds your hand further to increase the relative length of your thumb.

And this change in relative length gives your thumb more leverage and moves it deeper into the IR space (see Weightlifting Hook Grip: Mechanism 2).

Hook Grip Small Hands: Grip-Enhancing Agents

Another solution is to use a grip-enhancing agent such as chalk or liquid resin.

Chalk and liquid chalk claim to increase the coefficient of friction by drying the skin.

Liquid resin claims to enhance the adhesion between the skin and surface.

Which should you use?

The answer depends on the moisture of the surface and your skin.

A case study by Carre et al. (2012) measured the change in friction using various grip-enhancing agents on a steel surface.

Here are the adapted results:


Case 1: Dry Hands and Dry Surface

If your hands are dry and the surface is dry, chalk does NOT provide the best grip for deadlift, snatch, or clean variations.

In fact, you’re better off using your bare skin!

The reason?

If there’s no moisture to dry, then chalk acts as a solid lubricant.

By contrast, liquid chalk increases friction substantially better by creating a viscous solution.

And liquid resin performs best in a dry environment because it is viscous and can adhere to your skin.

This result supports research translated by Charniga (2007), claiming the force applied to the bar is 15% stronger with the use of resin.

So if you want the best grip for deadlift, snatch, or cleans in dry conditions, then use a liquid agent.

Case 2: Wet hands and Dry Surface

The story changes if you increase the moisture of your hands through sweat or spray with water (middle chart).

In this case, the solid chalk provides the best grip for deadlift, snatch, and clean variations.

The reason is the chalk particles can bind to the moisture and form a viscous solution.

And this solution increases the friction against steel, which enhances your grip.

But if you have sweaty hands, you DON’T want to use liquid chalk or liquid resin.

You’re better off using your own skin (if you don’t have dry chalk).

The reason?

These agents already have water, so if your skin is moist, they won’t bind to it effectively and will only increase lubrication against the bar.

Case 3: Dry Hands and Wet Surface

Finally, what if you lift in a humid environment?

In this case, the contact surface (i.e., steel) is moist rather than your hand.

If the bar is damp, then all grip agents become less effective compared to a dry environment.

But something is better than nothing.

So, if you lift in a humid environment, your best strategy is to dry the bar as much as possible with a dry cloth.

Since the air is still humid, using solid chalk will provide the best grip for deadlift, snatch, and clean variations.

In China, weightlifters often use weightlifting straps combined with chalk in humid environments.

Is Hook Grip Supposed to Hurt?

Yes, it’s common for the hook grip to feel uncomfortable when learning how to hook grip. This discomfort is due to:

  1. Increased fluid pressure from the bar and your fingers pressing into your thumb pad.
  2. Friction on your thumb as the bar tries to roll off the inner edge of your thumb.

In addition to discomfort, these forces can create small skin tears along the inner edge of your thumb, swelling, chafing, and broken blood vessels, like this:


The good news is these issues are typical.

The bad news is these injuries/discomfort can interfere with your technique or heavier lifts.

So, what’s the solution?

Use some weightlifting tape to provide a layer of skin protection until your hand adapts.

Does Hook Grip Thumb Pain Ever Go Away? 

Usually, yes. The swelling and broken blood vessels typically subside as your skin stretches to accommodate high fluid pressure in your thumb pad.

And your thumb will become more resistant to chafing and skin tears as your skin thickens.

However, you might experience persistent thumb pain with the hook grip if you:

  1. Press your thumb parallel against the bar.
  2. Use your fingers to hook onto your thumbnail.
  3. Lack internal rotation somewhere else, such as your shoulder.

Hook Grip Pain #1:

Pressing your thumb parallel to the bar places pressure on your thumbnail and the boney side of your thumb, including the joints.


The problem is there’s little fluid and room for compression/expansion on this side, making this placement quite painful and persistent.

This problem occurs frequently if you don’t learn how to hook grip correctly.

Fortunately, there’s a solution.

You can easily resolve this by adjusting your grip to wrap your thumb pad around the bar, like the right side of the image above.

Hook Grip Pain #2:

Another issue is pressing your fingers directly on your thumbnail or its edge.

Because this area is sensitive to pressure, performing a hook grip can feel like your nail is getting pulled off.

It’s difficult to adapt to this, so your best solution is adjusting your grip.

You can start over and try to press the web between your index finger and thumb deeper into the bar.

You can also try wrapping your fingers further around your thumb.

Or you can try internally rotating your thumb further across your palm.

But even if you know how to hook grip, sometimes none of these solutions are possible because your fingers are too short or too thick.

In this case, using weightlifting tape can provide a layer of protection to dampen the pressure from your fingers.

Hook Grip Pain #3:

Sometimes athletes experience tightness or pain at the base of the thumb or wrist, shown in the blue circles below:


The tightness can also occur between the two blue circles.

Conventional wisdom is to stretch a tight area by performing ulnar deviation of your wrist while maintaining your fist.

However, before you go pulling on something that doesn’t want to elongate, consider looking more proximally to your torso.


Because if you can internally rotate your shoulder, pronate your forearm, and pronate your hand relative to your wrist, then you should have all your internal rotation available.

It’s rare for one segment in the arm to move independently of other segments.

So, if you have a problem at the distal end, you may have something proximal limiting your movement.

First, make sure you’re not pointing your elbows back in the start, like this:


Some western coaches teach this external rotation movement to create tension in their midback.

The problem?

It becomes more difficult to pronate (internally rotate) your forearm when you’re already externally rotating it.

So when you hook grip, you’re doing it against a muscle being pulled in the opposite direction.

And you’re forced to go beyond the range available, which can be painful.

In this case, stretching may provide temporary relief if it does anything at all.

Second, consider restoring your pump handle to access shoulder internal rotation.

What’s that?

When you inhale, your ribcage (should) expands outward upward, like a pump:

But if your pump handle stays down during inhalation, then you’ll have concentric orientation of upper body muscles anteriorly and laterally.

Think tight pecs, serratus, etc.

With a down pump handle, your scapula abducts, and your humerus internally rotates.

So you end up looking like this:


This position is awkward to lift or walk.

So, you need to externally rotate compensatorily to make use of your hands and arms.

The problem with this compensation is it concentrically orients your shoulder external rotators, limiting shoulder internal rotation.

The result is the same as you saw in the elbow: when you hook grip, you’re doing it against a muscle being pulled in the opposite direction.

So you’re forced to go beyond the range available to pronate, which can be painful near the thumb.

So how can you restore your internal rotation?

Use exercises that force an up-pump handle. For example, you can use a decline pullover like this:

You can even do some incline, alternating, dumbbell bench press!

Alternatively, you can do light front squats focusing on keeping your chest out and breathing through your chest.

Try these movements and see if you experience a reduction in hook grip pain.

What Tape Do Weightlifters Use? 

In China, most weightlifters use a roll of firm cloth weightlifting tape. Like this:


You might be wondering how to hook grip with such a large roll.

Fortunately, this tape tears easily into strips which you can customize for your wrists, shins, hands, as well as your thumb proportions.

Adjusting the width of the tape has several advantages.

First, it allows you to tape around the interphalangeal joint of the thumb.

Avoiding this spot is important because if you tape this spot too tightly, then the tape will create too much pressure in your thumb and can prevent flexion.

Second, adjusting the width of the tape helps prevent slippage during a training session.

For example, if the width of the tape is too wide, then any excess tape hanging off the end of your thumb can pull the entire strip during the pull.

Additionally, using a wide strip can cause the tape to bunch up when you flex your thumb or cause the tape to slip off during a lift.

Third, adjustable strips allow you to target areas where the skin breaks without having to tape much of the thumb, like this:


This solution is good for athletes who don’t like taping their thumbs but need to protect a vulnerable area.

Is Hook Grip Necessary? 

The hook grip is necessary (but not required) for weightlifting competition. It’s also not necessary for all weightlifting training exercises. Here’s a rough guideline of how Chinese weightlifters use the hook grip:

  • Often used for:
  • Less often used for:
    • Hang Snatch
    • Hang Clean
    • Block Snatch
    • Block Clean
    • Complexes
    • Deadlifts
    • Snatch Pulls
    • Clean Pulls
    • Pressing Movements
    • Bodybuilding pulling movements like rows, chin-ups, lat pulls, etc.

Of course, there are always exceptions. For example, check out this clean complex where the weightlifter uses a hook grip:


And check out this girl snatching 115kg from blocks with a hook grip.



But still, it looks like Chinese weightlifters hardly use the hook grip!

What are they using instead?

Answer: weightlifting straps

In general, most weightlifting assistance movements like block/hang/pulls require multiple reps where your grip can fatigue, even with a hook grip.

If your grip fatigues, it can result in a compensatory strategy that interferes with your force production.

So, to avoid ingraining bad weightlifting habits, the hook grip is usually reserved for technical movements from the floor and/or single reps.

When it comes to strength movements, there’s a little more nuance.

Let’s look at the deadlift as an example.

Should You Hook Grip Deadlift? 

  1. Outside of weightlifting, since the hook grip is stronger than a normal grip, you should perform a hook grip deadlift if your goal is maximum deadlift strength or reps.
  2. But in weightlifting, the answer depends on your hook grip strength, training schedule, and movement goals.

Let’s look at each of these factors more closely.

Hook Grip Deadlift: Grip Strength

Some Chinese weightlifters perform hook grip deadlift variations because their hands are small, so they need to strengthen hook grip.

Other athletes have an uncomfortable hook grip and cannot adjust their fingers.

In this case, they perform a hook grip deadlift to adapt their hands.

Variations include rounded back deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, and other movements covered in our list of Olympic weightlifting exercises.


The weights for these hook grip deadlift variations are usually close to maximum snatch or clean weight rather than a 1RM deadlift performed with weightlifting straps.

This intensity has two advantages.

One advantage is there’s less injury risk if you use a compensatory strategy as your grip fails.

This reduced risk is because the intensity is below the maximal strength range for your body.

Another advantage is since the intensity is near your maximum snatch and clean & jerk, using hook grip deadlift variations can build confidence.

Hook Grip Deadlift: Training Schedule

Most Chinese weightlifters perform at least one type of pulling exercise per day, so they often use weightlifting straps for deadlifts. But it’s possible to minimize hand fatigue from hook grip deadlifts if:

  1. You place them near the end of a weight training session.
  2. The next day in the training week is a rest day.
  3. The next weight training session has few to no pulling movements.
  4. The intensity of the next weight training session is light.
  5. The next weight training session implements weightlifting straps for all pulling movements.

The point is you can train your grip strength with hook grip deadlifts while weightlifting frequently.

You just need to be strategic about your placement.

Hook Grip Deadlift: Movement Goal

Whether you implement a hook grip deadlift or not depends on the goal of your movement.

For example, Chinese weightlifters add an extension during a deadlift to emphasize power, like this:

While this movement can build snatch pull or clean pull strength, it is very taxing on their hands without weightlifting straps.

Bonus: Releasing the Hook Grip?

All professional weightlifters start with a hook grip.

And, so far, we’ve been talking about the hook grip from the start position.

But some athletes naturally release the hook as they turn their wrists to catch the bar during a snatch or clean.

For example, you can see Liao Hui (69kg; on the left) maintaining his hook grip while Zhang Jie (62kg; on the right) opens his hands and releases his hook grip.


Both are world champions.

Both are cleaning 160kg.

So, what’s going on?

Remember, the hook grip produces internal rotation in the arm via pronation.

But if you don’t have enough access to this internal rotation space in a front squat or overhead squat, you must create space to get into position.

And releasing the hook grip is a strategy that will bias the wrists towards supination to expand the space.

This movement isn’t explicitly taught in China, but it occurs among men and women, lightweights and heavyweights.

And depending on your ability to access internal rotation, you might maintain the hook grip for:

  1. Both snatch and clean.
  2. Snatch only.
  3. Neither snatch or clean.

So, what should you do?

Ask yourself: “Can I maintain a proper overhead position? Can I do it pain-free?”

If the answer is “yes” to both questions, then continue with whatever grip you’re using.

While maintaining a hook grip can preserve an undisrupted connection with the bar, it’s also important to achieve a pain-free and proper catch position.

And some athletes release the hook grip because this is the best strategy to apply force throughout the entire system.

For example, they give up internal rotation in the wrist by releasing the hook grip but they have space to produce greater internal rotation at the shoulder or spine.

But if the answer is “no” to either question, then assess you have two options:

First, you can assess your weightlifting technique visually with our Chinese weightlifting book.

Second, try to create a dynamic pump handle to create space for you to internally rotate your shoulder (see Hook Grip Pain #3 for more info).

If the problem persists despite these interventions, then you should consider releasing the hook grip.


Congratulations, you are now a master of the hook grip!

I hope you found this weightlifting hook grip guide valuable and interesting.

Now I’d like to hear from you.

Will you try the hook grip?

If you already hook grip, did you learn anything new?

Is there any other question you have about the hook grip?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment!


Special thanks to Bill Hartman at IFASTU for guidance.

Bykov, A. P., Y. I. Smagli, and B. Donyets. 1970. “Optimum Width of the Grip in the Snatch.” Polytechnical Institute Weightlifting. 63 – 67. Translated by Andrew Charniga, Jr. Sportivny Press. 2007.

Carre, Matt, Sarah Tomlinson, James Collins, and Roger Lewis. 2012. “An Assessment of the Performance of Grip Enhancing Agents used in Sports Applications.” Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part J: Journal of Engineering Tribology. 226(7): 616 – 625.

Oranchuk, Dustin, Riki Lindsay, Eric Helms, Eric Harbour, Adam Storey, and Eric Drinkwater. 2018. “Hook-grip Improves Power Clean Kinetics and Kinematics.” In Conference: 36th International Society of Biomechanics in Sports.

Oranchuk, Dustin, Eric Drinkwater, Riki Lindsay, Eric Helms, Eric Harbour, and Adam Storey. 2019. “Improvement of Kinetic, Kinematic, and Qualitative Performance Variables of the Power Clean with the Hook Grip.” International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. 14(3): 378 – 384.

Shuai Yuqin. 1991. “The Relationship between Thumb Length and Snatch Performance of Male Weightlifters.” Journal of Chengdu Physical Education Institute. 17:1. 93 – 96.

9 thoughts on “Hook Grip Mastery: Everything you Need to Know

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    Patrick says:

    Hey MaStrength,

    Thanks for a great article, a much more in depth look at the topic than we normally get. I really liked your explanation of how the thumb IR inherent to hook grip contributes to the strength and stability of the arm as a whole.

    It reminds me of an article by Kate Galliet I read a while ago discussing how weak ‘tech hand’ postures contributed to by typing, writing, phone use etc have implications for the strength of the upper body as a whole.

    Makes me curious about how thumb IR might play into that picture, and have a role in helping arm-sedentary people get more strength.

    Do you think hook grip has any application in things like kettlebell-ing or heavy swinging? From an IR perspective, even if the thumb is not actually inside the grip, just being used in a lower and more internally rotated position? With hook grip perhaps being used as an aid to train the position?

    • blank
      Ma Strength says:

      Hello Patrick,

      Kettlebell (KB) sport uses the term “hook grip” but it has a different meaning. Additionally, to avoid tearing your hands during a KB snatch, some KB practitioners recommend moving the KB handle from the base of your fingers to the heel of your palm. Because of the regripping, a weightlifting hook grip might not be optimal in this situation. Hope this helps!

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    Tom says:

    I am a little confused on Hook Grip Compensation #3 and Hook Grip Pain #3. They seem to be contradictory. I am experiencing pain in the metacarpal joint in the thumb from hook grip. I am thinking I want my elbows pointed out not back, but not internally rotated too far. Could you clarify?

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      Ma Strength says:

      Hey Tom, sure thing. Basically compensation #3 is an example of too much internal rotation while Pain #3 usually results from limited internal rotation. In China, the elbow should not point directly out to the sides but rather slightly behind to assure enough tension in your back. However, you don’t want to point the elbows behind you or try to “bend the bar”. Makes sense?

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    Vinh Ly says:

    Excellent article. It taught me a lot about the hook grip.

    I stumped upon this article because I wanted to learn how to hook grip with my small hands and thought I was being a little baby due to people reporting how uncomfortable it can be in the beginning. I wanted to know about your thoughts on the diameter of your hands when gripping the bar vs comparing the length of the thumb for the hook grip. The reason why I ask is because if I were to touch the tip of my index finger to the tip of my thumb (making the letter O) and compared both hands side by side, my right hand has a noticeably smaller diameter than the left. This is due to the Abductor Pollicis Brevis muscle on my right hand is bigger.

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      Ma Strength says:

      Hey Vinh, glad you liked the article. It’s normal to have differences in your hands depending on whether you’re right handed or left handed. As long as the diameter is bigger than the bar and enough to hook onto the bar, then you’ll be ok.

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