2016-10-13 training log

HOOK GRIP! That’s pretty cool.

Of course I’ve known about hook grip for some time, but I never tried it for one reason or another. Last night while browsing some YouTube videos I came across one from Alan Thrall on hook grip. I knew I was going to be deadlifting, and it was “5/light” week – what with everyone saying hook grip is painful, especially at first – I figured “light” week would be a good time to give it a shot. However, ever since the Rangemaster Advanced Instructor class some weeks ago, I’ve had a pain in the proximal interphalangeal joint of my right thumb — I did something in class. The pain is still there but slowly improving, so I didn’t think inflicting abuse on my thumbs would be good.

But, when I got to the gym this morning things were feeling OK so I went for it. I figured I could start on my lightest set, see how it went, and go from there. And yes, try hook grip on every rep of every set – not something you’d normally do, but as I’m starting to learn the technique it’s a good thing.

The hardest part was adjusting how I approached gripping the bar, so I could get the bar positioned such that when the bar hung from my hands under tension, there would be minimal to zero skin pinching and folding – because I don’t need my skin or callouses to get torn under load. It didn’t take me long to figure out a good approach, especially since in between sets I spent time at a bar just figuring out a good grip approach.

I chugged along, and things went pretty good. I was really impressed with how my arms and hands felt almost like they were no longer involved. Sure they were, but well… sometimes you feel like you have to pull a bit with the arms, even not directly, but a little bend happens. It’s of course worse with a mixed grip, and often a reason why people tear the biceps during deadlifting. But here it just felt like my arms and hands were two straps/hooks, just some way to attach the bar to my body so the body could lift. I really dug that. And I really dug the lack of mixed grip – not having the twist and unbalanced feeling was great!

The pain? It wasn’t too bad – certainly not as bad as people make it out to be. Of course, I was only lifting 315 today – I expect with 400, 500, 600+ pounds that it will hurt more. 🙂 But for sure, it’s not comfortable. Towards the end of the 315 set my thumbs were not very happy.

I also called an audible and opted to do some “first set last” (the 3-5 sets of 5-8 reps version), as a way of getting more work in with the technique. While it wasn’t heavy, the wear and tear on my thumbs was getting to me. Even now, a few hours after the session is over, my thumbs still ache — a sort of quasi-numb/tingle feeling, like novocaine partially wearing off. I wonder how long that sensation will last.

Nevertheless, I really dug hook grip. It wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be, and it has a lot of advantages that were made easily evident in this single session. For sure I’ll keep it up. I expect at least until I’m more comfortable with the technique that I’ll use hook grip for all sets and reps. Once I am comfortable with it, I’ll probably go back to normal overhand for warm-up sets, then hook for my work sets. If I continue to do things like first-set-last, I’ll probably go back to overhand as well — not so much to avoid the wear and tear on my thumbs, but to allow my grip strength to develop instead of always gaining the mechanican avantage of hook grip.

Then just finished up with a little accessory work.

I dug it.

My own massing template, based upon 5/3/1 SST and some Paul Carter principles

  • Deadlift
    • 150 x 5
    • 185 x 5
    • 220 x 3
    • 240 x 5
    • 275 x 5
    • 315 x 10
    • 240 x 8
    • 240 x 8
    • 240 x 8
  • Seated Calf Raises
    • 50 x 12
    • 50 x 12
    • 50 x 12
    • 50 x 12
  • Twisting Crunches
    • BW x 20
    • BW x 16
    • BW x 16
    • BW x 16

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