Why Do Gymnastics Grips Make My Grip WORSE?

November 2, 2018

Leanne asks: Why are pull-ups more effective for me with no gymnastic grips on? Do I rely on my grip more when I’m not wearing the grips? Is this why it’s better?


Okay, this comes down to a matter of physics. It’s about friction. It’s about the coefficient of friction, which is basically just a fancy way of saying how grippy something is, so we need to ask ourselves what grips should do.

Now most people think the grips should protect our hands, and of course, yes, that’s one of the things, it’s one of the criteria that we should be looking at, but in terms of your grip on the bar, not necessarily the only factor. We need to look at how much grip there is between the grips and the bar and between the grips and your hand, and the more friction we have there, the more grip you have, the more your grip on that bar is going to be improved. So between hand and grip, we want that to be nice and grippy, a lot of friction. Between the grip and the bar, we want that to be nice and grippy, to have a lot of friction. If you can do that, if you can have a lot of grip between those three surfaces, you’re going to stick to that bar, and it’s going to maximise your ability to stay on there longer and to generate strength, force, and torque.

Now of course, people make the mistake of choosing grips based on the fact that they’re protecting their hands, how much of your hand do they cover, but this is not their only factor. Make sure that you are choosing grips which not only protect you, but also offer that high degree of friction between your hand and the bar.

Short answer to the question, if you feel like you are stronger on the bar, like you have more grip when you’re not wearing your gymnastic grips, you need to try out a couple of different makes and models. Change the grips that you’re wearing, and choose them based not only on the comfort and the fact that they’re protecting your hands from tearing, but also based on how much friction they have to the bar.

Dan Williams

Dan Williams


Dan Williams is the Director of Range of Motion and leads a team of Exercise Physiologists, Sports Scientists, Physiotherapists and Coaches. He has a Bachelor of Science (Exercise and Health Science) and a Postgraduate Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science from The University of Western Australia, with minors in Biomechanics and Sport Psychology.

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