Calluses are a blessing to your hands as you get fitter inside the gym. They serve as a protection against tearing your hands on the bar and rings, but only when they are properly maintained. Last year I wrote this blog on how to better take care of your hands and calluses.
But I didn’t mention the most obvious way of protecting your calluses from tearing… gymnastic grips! When worn correctly, gymnastic grips are a great solution to reducing the friction between your hand and the apparatus (i.e. bar or rings).
I unfortunately am seeing too many useless grips being sold now on Amazon. My hope is that today’s blog will help you in choosing the right gymnastic grip.
In general, you want to consider three things in the grip: (1) how many holes, (2) the material, and (3) the size.
How Many Holes?
Two-hole grips are better for the rings because they are smaller. Because rings are round, you want a grip that will follow the curve of the rings with your hand.
Three-hole grips are better for the bar because they are wider. In other words, you want the grip to cover as much surface area as possible. Four-hole grips also fall under this category.
But what about the no-hole grips? I like these a lot as well for the simple fact that you can move the grip around in a metcon. But the same principle as above applies, whether or not they have holes in them: You want a thinner grip across the hand if you tear primarily on the rings. You want a wider grip across the hand if you tear primarily on the bars.
You have four materials to choose from: rubber, synthetic, carbon fiber, and leather.
Rubber: The main benefit is that these are durable–they will last you forever.
Synthetic: This material is the cheapest option and will allow you to feel like your hand is bare on the bar.
Carbon Fiber: Many athletes love this material because it’s so grippy.
Leather: These will stretch out slightly over the years, but they are both durable and grippy.
I honestly like all of these pieces of material and don’t think you can really go wrong with any of them. I have learned over the years, however, that although the leather grips look the best (my opinion), they are more slippery on the bars than the others.
Unbeknownst to most, gymnastic grips should not fit perfectly to the size of your hand. Instead, grips with finger holes should have enough length so that when gripping the bar, you can create a fold of material between the bar and your fingers while having a smooth surface on the palm.
This fold of material is why I prefer grips with holes in them instead of the ones without holes. This fold, also known as the “dowel effect”, is what helps you hold on to the bar and rings by creating torque. (Read more about the dowel-effect here).
A proper gymnastic grip should be bigger than you’d originally think. The perfect grip is able to fold and come to the edge of your fingertips. If the edge of the fold is below the first knuckle, the grips are too short. Here’s a sizing guide to help you choose the right grips if you are buying them online.
Grips are a fantastic way to prevent hand tears. They are also a helpful way to stay on the bar/rings longer when performing an exercise.
The width and material of the grip are two main considerations to take into account before buying a pair. But don’t forget about the sizing as well! Don’t buy them too short. You want to be able to create the dowel effect.
The most popular option from our coaches and athletes are the three-hole, X2 grips sold by Victory Grips (here).
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