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Do you find your grip a limiting factor in the gym? Do you avoid doing pull ups or toes to bar because you fear your hands will end up tearing? Do you want to add extra traction on your grip to lift heavier? Keep reading, you will discover an efficient tool for all the above!
It took me a long time to understand that having a good grip on the bar is crucial to success in lifts such as the snatch, deadlift, and clean; and for holding longer on the bar while performing pull ups and toes to bar, but also while working out with dumbbells and kettlebells. Having a strong grip is necessary to increase the amount of weight you can lift.
A lot of athletes find it very useful to wear palm protection to avoid tears and rips, and at the same time have a stronger grip. Some prefer to use gauze or tape, but sometimes these don’t hold up well and end up being more of a distraction than a benefit. I definitely recommend wearing hand grips whether you are a beginner or veteran, especially if you want to improve your grip strength, keep healthy palms and hit more PRs.
But how do you choose the hand grips that are right for you? A lot of the grips offered in the market are made for gymnasts, could they also work for CrossFit? Are there any hand grips that could match all of your workout needs?
Best Hand Grips Recommendations for CrossFit
A couple of weeks ago we asked our Barbell Beauties Facebook group members for the best hand grips. Here are their top suggestions:
If your utmost concern is the design, Versa Gripps is one of your best options. Based on scientific research in physiology and anatomy, these hand grips offer palm protection and wrist support. The quick‐release feature makes it safe and easy to let go of the weight immediately when necessary. Unlike lifting straps that cut off blood circulation and can cause nerve damage, Versa Gripps have a funnel‐shaped design that allows the weight to rest at the base of the hand so as not to restrict circulation. They also have a unique built-in arch support to help prevent carpal tunnel and injuries.
Xpodium Natural Rubber Grips
The Xpodium Hand (Fingerless) grips provide total palm coverage. These grips are specifically designed for fast transitions between gymnastics and other functional fitness movements such as handstand walks, double unders, or barbell movements.
WOD Nation Hand Grips
Beyond a good fit, the level of comfort is also very important. Unlike other brands, WOD Nation hand grips are made of premium leather that is not only durable but also soft and form fitting. These grips not only protect your hands from calluses but also provide wrist support without irritating your skin. At $15, these are a fantastic value.
The Bear Komplex Grips are also very popular among CrossFit athletes and that might be because these hand grips are very sticky. They are made of leather and carbon fiber, which is both light and sticky, allowing for longer and stronger holds on the bar while doing pull-ups. Its no wonder that this material is used in gymnastic grips. However, keep in mind that these grips are not as great for barbell work as the leather grips.
The Rogue V2 Grips are an upgraded version that uses leather on both sides of the hand grip that helps traction reducing the chances of slipping out of the bar during a workout. This design has two precision-cut finger holes and a hook-and-loop strap on the wrists. This strap makes it easy to turn the hand grip around to the back of your hands when you are out of the bars and turn them back again when you need them.
If you have any skin allergies, The WODies might be a good fit for you. The material on these grips is hypoallergenic and latex-free. In addition, they have been designed as a combination of wristbands and gymnastic grips. With these hand grips you will protect your hands and also provide support to your wrists. They are very comfortable and at a pretty great price.
If you usually prefer not to wear hand grips during your training but want to protect your palms you can try the WOD & DONE Hand Protection. They provide a good middle ground between feeling the bar and also protecting from rips. They are single use hand protection, self-adhesive, chalk and sweat friendly. Each pair comes individually packaged for your convenience.
What are Hand Grips
Let’s start by understanding the benefits of developing a strong grip. This study shows that for both men and women, grip strength is increasingly seen as a key indicator of healthy aging. The connection comes because a strong grip requires a degree of muscular force. It is also an indication of muscle mass throughout the body, especially during aging when this mass starts to decline.
Hand grips are a tool to help you build strength while keeping your hands in good shape by minimizing tears, rips, blisters, and calluses. A good pair of hand grips can help the muscles that control your grip get stronger. They give your grip a boost by adding traction, especially during pulling movements, such as deadlifts and pull ups. Plus, they help your grip to not give out before targeting the muscle groups you’re training. Many times your grip will fail before your larger muscles do because of fatigue. When wearing hand grips you can keep progressing in strength and building muscle.
So not only do hand grips protect palms, they also help your gripping strength and add to your ability. A greater grip strength will help you lift heavier, and in the long term, will help you age healthier. Hand grips are definitely a beneficial investment.
What Should You Look for in Buying a Hand Protector?
When shopping for hand grips, size is very important. Hand grips need to fit correctly to provide the protection and support you’re looking for and don’t rub or chafe. Some hand grips have adjustable straps to customize the tightness and support in the wrists. In addition to available sizes, it’s important to look for comfort like malleability of the fabric, support, and durability.
Why is it Important to Train With Hand Grips Vs Without Hand Grips?
You might have seen at your gym that some advanced athletes don’t use hand grips. And this is mostly because after a long period of multiple tears and rips, their palms get calloused and toughened. However, in the CrossFit arena, many top level athletes wear and recommend the use of hand grips for daily workouts and weightlifting training. For them, hand grips are perceived as an effective tool to increase grip strength without damaging the palms, and are easily available in the market.
So I definitely recommend grips whether you are a beginner or not, especially if you are committed to increasing your performance in weightlifting and gymnastics and want to compete at your highest potential. It’s best to start using hand grips sooner, so you get used to the feeling of wearing them, to really grasp the bar and not slip; and most of all, to avoid tearing.
How To Use CrossFit Hand Grips
If you’re like me, you have either been using grips without using the finger holes or you have been putting your fingers in the holes and using them like a pair of gloves to cover your palms.
However, that is not the right way to use them! In this video, Ben, the experienced Head Coach at WODprep, explains the best way to use them and gives some good advice for hand care.
One thing that is worth noting is that sizing is very important. If you get a pair of hand grips that are too small, there won’t be enough material to create the fold (between the bar and your fingers) that gives you extra grip while holding the bar. Most of us are probably wearing grips that are our hand size but they should not fit tight like a second skin. So as Ben suggests, go one size larger. The fold will help you hold on with more efficiency, creating more power. This is known among gymnasts as the dowel effect.
How you initially grip the bar or rings can have a profound effect on the efficiency of the movement you are going to perform. Wearing hand grips during your workouts can help you improve your grip strength and protect your palms from tearings and calluses. Besides helping you perform heavy lifts and holding longer in the bar, your grip strength can also be an important indicator of your overall health, as studies have found that a stronger grip correlates with a lower risk of heart attack and stroke.
Regardless of the brand, if you decide to use hand grips, you have to learn how to use them correctly. They shouldn’t fit tight to your palm but rather have a little extra leather so when you grip the bar the actual grip will fold over itself on the top. Therefore, get one size larger than you’d think.
Get a pair of hand grips to improve your grip strength and protect your palms, and you’ll be able to lift more weight and build more muscle all over your body while having fun on the bar.