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Hook grip is better, but why?

Summary of a study looking at what is changes in power clean movement when using hook grip versus closed grip.

Who

11 strength and power athletes (8 weightlifters) aged 28.1±5.6 years with a power clean equal or exceeding their body mass (mean power clean 1RM of 134±16% of body mass) and at least 3 months of experience using a hook grip (New Zealand).

1RMone repetition maximum, the maximal weight lifter for 1 repetition

Design

Repeated measures cross-over design. Each athlete performed power cleans at 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, and 100% of 1RM with a hoop grip on one occasion and with a closed grip on the other occasion.

Outcome measures

  • kinetics (forces) of the body mass and barbell at 80%, 85%, 90%, and 1RM

Main results

Hook grip is better, but why? - Infographic

  • Athletes lifted on average 6.8 kg more with hook grip (109.4±17.2 kg) than while using a closed grip (102.6±14.6 kg). It’s a difference of 6.7%.
  • Peak velocity was higher when using a hook grip up to 1RM.
  • Peak force was higher for hook grip at 80%, 85%, and 1RM
  • Peak power was higher for hook grip at 80%, 85%, 90%, and 95%
  • Catch height was higher for hook grip at 85%, 90%, and 95%
  • Barbell kinematics (difference between start position and beginning of the 2nd pull; the front-back difference in 2nd pull position; the difference between the start position and catch position; front-back difference of the barbell path) were the same for any phase or intensity for both hook and closed grip
  • Differences between the hook and closed grip were detected only for 1RM catch phase (0.615±0.17 seconds versus 0.526±0.22 seconds) and total duration (1.45±0.19 seconds versus 1.47±0.27 seconds). Also, a bar catch height was lower for hook grip than for closed grip condition. This may indicate improved turnover from pull to catch with the hook grip.
  • Forces produced through all the phases of the power clean were pretty much the same for both grips.

Take home message

For a clinician & coach
Athletes lifted on average 6.7% more with hook grip than while using a closed grip, because they were faster and able to generate higher peak force and power.
For a parent
Athletes lifted on average 6.7% more with hook grip than while using a closed grip, because they were faster and able to generate higher peak force and power.
For an athlete
Athletes lifted on average 6.7% more with hook grip than while using a closed grip, because they were faster and more powerful.

Original article

Oranchuk DJ, Drinkwater EJ, Lindsay RS, Helms ER, Harbour ET, Storey AG. Improvement of kinetic, kinematic, and qualitative performance variables of the power clean with the hook grip. International journal of sports physiology and performance. 2019 Mar 1;14(3):378-84.

Oranchuk DJ, Harbour ET, Lindsay RS, Storey AG, Drinkwater EJ. Improved power clean performance with the hook-grip is not due to altered force-time or horizontal bar-path characteristics. Journal of Sports Sciences. 2021 Oct 3:1-0.

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