Hooking for Time
Written by Michele Vieux
Hopefully you already know that the hook grip provides Olympic lifters with the most secure and steadfast stronghold on the barbell possible. You probably (better) use it while doing snatches, cleans, halting snatch deadlifts, clean pulls and any other Olympic skill transfer drill where you are pulling the weight from the hips or below. But how do you handle this grip when Olympic lifting comes up in the conditioning portion of the workout?
Many athletes have trouble figuring out how to regrip each rep, or if they should even be using the hook grip in the first place. Since the correct answer is that you SHOULD be using a hook grip whenever possible, here are some tips so that you may utilize your hook to hold onto the bar while repeating multiple reps for time.
Hooking Snatches for Time
First of all, if you are snatching, you DO NOT need to release your hook grip. Not when going heavy, not in a timed workout, not ever. This will require decent wrist mobility and a very snappy turnover to achieve however it is completely doable and very useful, especially when doing snatches for time. If you struggle with keeping the bar overhead in a hook grip, time to focus some effort on stretching your wrists, forearms, shoulders and thoracic.
If you do choose to (or need to) release that hook then practice your regrip with an empty barbell until you are comfortable doing it quickly and with weight on the bar. The regrip should occur while the barbell is overhead and before you bring it back down to your hips or the floor. Practice standing up out of the snatch just hard enough so that the bar pops out of your hand by a millimeter as you start to bring it back down. This is where you can regrip without losing the rhythm of your barbell cycling.
Hooking Cleans for Time
Although it is possible not to release the hook grip on cleans, it is usually not recommended unless these two things are true: 1) You consider the weight to be light; AND 2) You have excellent wrist and shoulder mobility. This is to prevent a serious injury like a wrist or thumb sprain, strain, fracture or break.
Normally, most athletes should release the hook grip on a clean whether or not is for time. This means that you must learn to rehook your grip. The same principle applies to the clean as did when regripping the snatch and that is to do it at the top of the lift i.e. while the bar is still on the shoulders and before you bring it down to your hips or the floor. This drill is intended for the transition from the clean to the jerk however the same principle can be used when trying to rehook your grip.
The hook grip is a useful tool in workouts and life to make you tougher, stronger and faster. Keep practicing yours until the regrip is natural and pain-free! You’ll notice benefits right away in your ability to turn over lifts quickly while leaving some grip strength in the tank for other parts of your workout that might call for it.