I don’t often do “rebuttal” blogs as I tend to believe that most authors are entitled to their opinion. However, every now and again I read one that requires a response. I don’t like to mention the article specifically as it doesn’t need any more press than it has already gotten. This week I read an article that stated Crossfit coaches should not teach their clients to use the hook grip.
The basic premise behind the argument was three-fold. First, it was stated that the athletes “don’t like the hook grip.” Secondly, “athletes don’t need the hook grip.” Finally, this article asserts that “the hook grip messes up lifts when athletes are learning.” Without spending the time rebutting these arguments I simply want to give three reasons why you should teach the hook grip from day 1.
1 – It’s Important To Learn The Hook Grip Early
If your athletes don’t learn the hook grip early they are less likely to use it later. The hook grip takes some getting used to. Nobody will deny that truth. Traditionally it takes two weeks for the user to adjust to it. Therefore, if you as a coach want your athlete to use the hook grip for an extended period of time and specifically use it when the weights get heavier, enforce it early. Any coach with experience knows that learning a habit is much more likely to stick later than trying to teach it later.
2- It’s Not Complex Relatively Speaking
If you’re going to teach a movement as complex and difficult as the Snatch or Clean, then somehow teaching and requiring the use of the hook grip seems to be minimal. If an athlete is going to complain about the use of the hook grip or explain that they don’t need it then I can guarantee they will give far less attention to the minute details of the lifts. The hook grip is easy, it take no effort, and simply requires some perseverance. Understanding, completing, and repeating the lifts takes much more focus and attention. If the hook grip is a major deterrent for an athlete, I can guarantee that the lifts will be as well. Unless of course the coach allows the athlete to get away with improper technique.
3- Pain Is Part Of The Game
Lets be dead honest for a second. No recurring member of a Crossfit gym or any legit fitness facility would confess they love their gym because of the pain they feel every time they work out. (Ok maybe a couple would) However, EVERY member of a Crossfit gym is going to admit there is a level of pain that comes alongside smart, intense workouts. No I’m not talking about the kind of pain associated to injury or rhabdo. What I am talking about is the kind of pain that is associated to hard work and a high intensity workout. Do a heavy set of 5 backsquats and your legs will burn a bit. Complete a max effort 400m sprint and your legs and lungs will likely feel a little woozy. Pain is part of the game. Therefore, using the hook grip is simply part of the process. Not only is it safer as it allows for a stronger grip on the bar but it also creates good habits early. Yes it might hurt a bit when you first start using it but so will an air squat. Yet we still squat. If my outlook was to avoid any excess discomfort on the basis that I might lose a client then likely I would not be helping my clients achieve the results they’re looking for. Use the hook grip. It’s part of the process. The purest gold is that which is refined by fire. Don’t run from what might hurt a little. Harness it wisely and use it to help your clients live a healthier, longer life.
I have been in doing the lifts for 14 years now. Hook grip was the first thing I learned as a 9th grade twig that could barely snatch 30kg. My grip was the least of my worries. Yet I learned it then because my coach wanted it to be the least of my worries later. I have been coaching Crossfit for 7 years. I have taught the lifts to the same clients in the same situation. Many of them, 7 years later, use the hook grip still and have never once looked back and wished they hadn’t.
Use it. Teach it. Don’t run from what is hard.