Whether you’re coming off last week’s “Jackie,” last month’s “Helen,” or yet another forearm-frying workout, you know how critical grip strength can be in CrossFit. This edition of “Ask the Coach” focuses on what you can do during your workouts to hang on better — and fight on longer!
Q: Got any tips for saving my grip during a workout?
By Coach Sara
The most important thing to remember regarding grip during a workout is that you never want to use a death grip. Whether it be with a kettlebell, barbell, dumbbell or pull-up bar, a death grip is a surefire way to blast your forearms within the first couple minutes of a workout.
So, how do I avoid death gripping, you ask?
Let’s break it down by exercise:
Hold the kettlebell at the rounded corners of the handles to help stabilize the weight as you swing. Try to create as much space as you can between your hands — as if you are trying to pull the handles apart — when holding the kettlebell.
NB: Make sure when holding the kettlebell this way that you keep your pinky fingers with the rest of your fingers for safety, rather than wrapping your other fingers over the handle while the pinky stays under.
Use a hook grip while pulling and remember to release that hook grip when the bar is in the receiving position. (Unless, that is, your mobility permits you to hang on to the hook grip without discomfort or added stress, as Catalyst Athletics’ Greg Everett explains). For most of us, here’s a simple way to remember when to hook grip, and when to release: if your palms are facing down, you should have your hands in a hook grip. If they are facing up, the hook grip should be released
When working with high reps or heavy weights, try using a mixed grip (one hand under/one hand over). When working on deadlifts during stand-alone strength sessions, try to maintain both hands over (parallel grip) as long as you can while maintaining good pulling position. When switching to a mixed grip, remember to alternate which hand is under from one set to the next to avoid developing any imbalances.
Stay tuned for a follow-up “Ask the Coach” post, when we’ll address mobility tips for your forearms after grip-intensive workouts. Until then… we’ll trust that you’ll hang in there!