• Snatch Grip and Avoiding Torn Calluses

    by  • July 22, 2013 • Weightlifting

    Weightlifting is a bit rough on your hands. Some wear and tear is inevitable when you’re pitting your skin against knurled chrome. I constantly tore my hands in competition and considered it an unavoidable part of the sport. The photo below is of my hand (centre) and Andrew Callard’s (1992 Olympian and 1994 Commonwealth champion but now probably better known as Zoe Smith’s coach) hand (left) after competing in Kuala Lumpur in 1998. Both show the typical damage I had come to expect when snatching. It doesn’t look much but is very off-putting when you feel your hand going during a lift and is quite painful to lift on once it has happened. I’m not sure who the eloquent hand in the background belongs to.


    In 1999 I had lifted well in the British championships but had once again torn some bits out of my hands when my training partner and GB team mate Peter May (double Olympian, 8th in Barcelona, 165, 195 @ 90kg) advised me to try “loosening” my grip on the bar. Instead of getting as much of my hand round the bar as possible he told me to keep a straight wrist when taking my grip. Although this initially feels like you’re not gripping the bar as strongly it is, in fact, how your grip is going to end up once you start lifting the bar anyway. The choice is between starting with this grip or your hands moving to this position under the weight of the bar during a lift. As the positioning of the bar in your hands moves it tears the skin of the palm under the little and ring finger and the skin on the fingers as well. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the horrible slipping feeling as the skin gives during a lift. Once I changed my grip for the snatch I didn’t tear my hands again snatching. If you have trouble with torn hands when snatching it’s worth a try.

    You can still grip the bar tightly. You still get as much of the bar as you can when working your hookgrip on but keep your forearm at the same angle relative to the bar while you do it as it’ll be in during the pull.

    The still photo’s below show my old grip which resulted in torn calluses on the left and the way I have gripped since 1999 with no trouble on the right. I’ve put a line in to show the angle which will be pulled straight on commencing a lift or when applying maximum power during the second pull.


    The video at http://youtu.be/G89USYqToNk shows the bar moving in the hand. It’s not that easy to see as it’s a small movement but the bar doesn’t have to move far to tear a callus off.

    There’s plenty of pain to go round when training and competing in weightlifting. Hopefully this small tip will save you from an unnecessary bit of it.