Which Pull Up Grip Suits You Best?

Hello Everyone! Coach Collin here!

Since we are currently doing a cycle with pull ups, I thought it would be prudent to talk about an aspect of pull ups that tends to be overlooked. This would be how you grip the pull up bar. 

There are two common grip styles used in Crossfit, the first is known as the Friction grip or in the Crossfit community, more likely known as a suicide grip. This style of grip is when your fingers and thumb all rest on top of the bar. 

In contrast the other type of grip is called a Crush grip, this is more or less what we would consider a standard grip for most things, where your pinky to pointer finger is located on top of the bar but the thumb is wrapped around the bar. These two grips are very similar in all aspects except the location of the thumb. 

The question is which one is better? 

There is a split among which one is usually decided as the best. The one that we would like to see is the Crush grip where the thumb is wrapped around, reason being that, first it offers greater safety in comparison to the friction grip and second it helps to actively engage the thumb and muscles of the forearm better. The added safety comes in especially when you are attempting muscle up drills or muscle ups of any type. If you have ever seen someone doing muscle ups, on a bar or even rings and their hand slips off the bar, that happened more than likely because they didn’t wrap their thumb around the bar. The thumb prevents the hand from sliding forward when it is wrapped around the bar, thus preventing the hand from slipping off the bar.

The other reason it is preferred is because by wrapping the thumb around not only are you allowing the thumb to grip the bar better but you are strengthening the grip of your other fingers as well. When your thumb wraps around the bar, not only does it allow it to grip the bar, but if you rest your thumb on the other fingers, you are gripping even harder through those fingers.

The main concerns with the Friction grip however are that one, it is uncomfortable and two, that it feels like you can engage your back more. The first concern about it being uncomfortable is true, your thumb is not used to being used in the way that you are now attempting to use it. It doesn’t have the callus or strength since it doesn’t get used as much or often during pull ups, it needs time to adjust before it starts to feel normal, anyone who has used a Hook grip before on a barbell knows what this is like. 

The second concern is that it feels like you can engage more with your back, and that is also true. When you use a Friction grip in order to grip the bar without the thumb requires you to change a part of your grip. What happens is that normally in a Crush grip the bar in your hand sits approximately under the middle knuckles of your fingers. In a Friction grip however what tends to happen is that the hand and wrist shift so that the bar sits closer to the third knuckle, or the knuckles closest to the palm, this shift in the location of the bar allows you to better engage in your lats, but this is also possible during the Crush grip. 

The best grip that you can have during pull ups is one where your thumb is wrapped around the bar sitting on top of your other fingers, (probably pointer and middle finger), and the bar sitting close to the knuckles of the palm.

If you have anymore questions feel free to ask the coaches or me and if you’re looking to schedule your free Pain Free Living Intro you can message me on Facebook or Email me at [email protected]

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