Get Hooked


If your palms sweat when you lift – whether because of hard training or the gym bunny gyrating in front of you-keeping a strong grip on the barbell can be difficult, limiting the weight you can use or the number of reps you’re able to complete. (Even if your hands don’t get clammy, most guys’ grips are still a weak point, holding back overall strength gains.) According to Jonathan Fass, C.S.C.S., a strength coach at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., the solution for both problems is literally in the palm of your hand: It’s called a hook grip.

Prepare to grip the bar overhand as usual, but wrap your thumbs around it first [1]. Then, wrap your fingers over your thumbs (so it looks like you made two fists with your thumbs on the inside) [2].

“When you hold a barbell,” says Fass, “you’re ultimately relying on the strength of your thumb to hold the bar in place.” Since the thumb comprises small muscles, it can tire out easily. “The hook grip eliminates the problem by reinforcing the thumb with the rest of your fingers, allowing you to apply more force to the bar.” A favorite technique of Olympic weightlifters and powerlifters, the hook grip can be used for many exercises (it’s particularly helpful for deadlifts, bench presses, and pullups). Be prepared for your thumb to be sore for the first few sessions as it adapts to being squeezed against the bar. After that, you’ll be hooked on this grip for life.

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