Gripping the Bar and what Grips to use on my Gymnastics.
“How should I grip the bar?” or “What grips should I buy?” are very common questions for a Coach to be asked, especially after a WOD like Cindy or a little hand tear incident.
Once you have got to the point where you can string some Pull Ups or more commonly Toes to Bar together, your first hand tear may not be very far away.
In a strange way that first hand tear is glorious…..you feel truly part of the CrossFit cult. You revel in the pain you feel driving home or in the shower, you whack it straight on social media and confuse/disgust your “normal” friends. You may even receive back pats and welcoming nods from the veterans of the box.
Ripping skin off your hands isn’t all fun and games however, it can mean no gymnastics or barbell work or kettlebells or citrus fruits for a while.
How do I protect against ripping?
- Chalk Up- Not too much, not too little. Think a lightly dusted Victoria Sponge. Too much chalk just exacerbates the problem, creates too much friction and can be worse than no chalk. However, no chalk can sometimes lead to moisture building up and slipping. The force of your momentum and this fast slipping or movement can result in a tear.
- Learn to Regrip– For example. Learning to momentarily release your grip on the bar at the top of the Hollow position and as your feet come to strike the bar (the weightless bit), can allow your hands to take a break from the friction build up.
- Maintenance and Practice– Hand care products are all over the place these days for the keen CrossFitter. Gone are the days of razor blades or teeth, (some habits die hard though eh!). Just looking after your hands and not letting calluses build to a colossus will obviously help you protect them.
How Should I Grip the Bar?
You’ve got two main options that we have spoken about in class before. The thumb under grip and the suicide grip. Both have their followers and both can be effective. The thumb under is favoured however, due to it being safer and allowing for more shoulder muscle recruitment and therefore engagement.
For a better stronger grip one key element must be present in both. Getting your knuckles OVER the bar can be a game changer. It allows you to keep a neutral wrist angle, therefore, increasing shoulder and lat engagement. This means you can find and maintain a much stronger hollow position. All these positional gains mean you’ll be able to generate more torque and stronger positions throughout your gymnastics. More proficiency and virtuosity, BOOM more fitness!!!
Am I wearing these Grips Properly?
This new technique we’re now dutifully using will probably result in some hand tears as it’s a new part of the hand getting exposed right? Yeah most likely. The calluses, or the skin on your palm underneath your fingers, pinches between your fingers and the bar. Now, this is not a bad thing although it may be uncomfortable at first. The reason why this is not bad is because your calluses will end up creating a natural ridge that will help you hold on. This is also the reason why when you rip at your calluses they rip up in the direction of your fingers. This is where properly designed gymnastics grips come into play.
So, here’s some tips for those that have rushed out to buy gymnastics grips to solve their problems. First up, good news, they can definitely help. If worn correctly you can go for longer, unbroken sets and feel much more comfortable on the bar.
Grips should have enough length, or slack, to create a fold of material between the bar and your fingers (as pictured above). They should not fit tight as this is only just creating a small layer of protection and can add to the friction effect. This fold will act like a sort of bio-mimicry doing the function of your calluses, keeping that strong grip and hopefully protecting against hand tears.
There is a downside to grips however, with any training aid you can become over reliant on them. Have you ever thought “I’ve left my grips at home; I obviously can’t train now!”? Get outa here!! Get yourself in and just be extra weary, scaling to jumping pull ups and living to train another day is always the right answer.
So, the main takeaways are?
- When doing ay gymnastics, get your knuckles on top of the bar.
- Use chalk, but don’t take the Michael.
- Try out some of your pal’s grips, you may love them or hate them but they can be a good tool.
- Look after your hands, tearing isn’t cool.