Written by Justin Santos | Academy of Lions Head Coach
One common question I've been asked in the gym is whether or not to hookgrip various lifts, and why something so painful is taught to everyone? I'll start by listing some of the Pros VS Cons of neutral and hookgrip.
Annoying to readjust if a Barbell complex is being done
Doesn't lead to much grip strength
Eliminates the issue of grip strength
dependable at high speeds
keeps bar locked into palm giving more control
Less dependable at high speeds,
Grip will be taxed if a long set of work is being done
The use of weightlifting straps at higher weights becomes a reality
Way less painful
Feels more natural
Great way to improve grip strength
Summary: In my opinion, the answer to a lot of the typical in gym questions like this one, would be to simply think about what you are going to be doing while you grip the bar. Both of these grips have a time and place where they should be used.
The hookgrip is very specific to the sport of olympic weightlifting because it allows athletes to pull as hard as possible with the intention of jumping into that second pull, without the fear that their grip is going to give out halfway through the lift potentially causing an injury! That being said Olympic lifters will deal with the drawbacks associated with hookgrip as a price for the extra security it gives.
On the other side of the spectrum is the neutral grip which is how most people would grab a bar if asked to pick it up off the floor. It feels comfortable and natural and for all purposes it will 100% get the job done. The question of should I switch to a hookgrip usually comes with deadlifts. As athletes get stronger the weight of their deadlifts go up. If for some reason the athlete's grip happens to give out before their legs or back, there is the argument that "I can go heavier but my hands just can't hold on!". In my opinion this will come down to how far you are willing to go to reach your goals along with whether or not you're willing to be patient. Truth be told if you give it some time and continue working hard, your grip strength will catch up and you'll be able to PR that deadlift. However if it's been a while and you've done all your accessory work for the grip and you feel like you REALLY need to hit this PR.... Then hookgrip that bar and get it done, just know the second you put it down your thumbs are going to scream at you!
When all is said and done, my opinion is this; If you are an olympic lifter use the hookgrip, there is a reason every lifter worth talking about EVER has used it and thats because it works. If you're doing your deadlifts, barbell rows, farmers carries, etc use neutral grip and make that grip strong enough to get the job done. If you're pressing the hookgrip is not needed at all, because the main benefit is security in the "pull" if you're overhead there is no pull to worry about.