The Oly Encyclopedia 44

The Importance of Gripping the Barbell Securely

The degree to which the subject of the grip is ignored in weightlifting circles is a continual source of amazement to me. In sports such a bowling, golf and baseball, sports in which no special grip strength is required, a proper grip seems to be discussed more widely. In weightlifting, where the grip is in direct contact with the projectile to be launched and the forces involved are so close to the lifter's maximum ability, little is said beyond "get a sure grip" or "always use the hook grip." Perhaps this is because most lifters feel, "I've never lost my grip so why make and issue out of it?" I would argue: do not assume that because you have never lost your grip, it has created no problems. We must remember that the subconscious mind is always aware of subtle changes in a lifter's body and the bar. If the grip is subconsciously felt to be loose, the nervous system will tend to reduce the force it applies to the bar to a point where the grip will not be lost. This reduction may not be noticeable to the lifter, but it can result in a significant decrease in the force that is applied to the bar. If lifters who are blessed with large hands and good grip strength find this argument unconvincing, they can skip the next section. For those who want to learn to maximize their gripping strength and confidence, please read on.
Before going on to the subject of assuring a secure grip, the reader should recognize that a secure grip is only important when the lifter is pulling. When the bar is supported overhead or at the shoulders, it is advisable to have all of the fingers securely around the bar, but the grip should not be tight. A tight grip while flipping a snatch overhead, racking a clean or driving a jerk overhead is a recipe for disaster. The speed that is so crucial during these stages of the lifts will be greatly hampered by any attempt on the part of the athlete to grip the bar tightly.

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