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The Complete Guide to Gymnastics Grips and Hand Care

After a few interactions with some athletes over the past few weeks, its come to my understanding that the idea of how or why to use gymnastics grips is not a well understood concept. So, here we go with a complete guide on a few topics that roll nicely together including how to use a set of gymnastics grips, whats the difference between whats out there now, and how to take care of your hands before and after you rip.

Let’s get this out there now…ripping your hands is not cool. It happens to all of us eventually but it is not something that should be celebrated. It drives me absolutely crazy to see peoples hands week after week looking like they just went through a cheese grater…almost as crazy as seeing someones leg all torn up from rope climbs because they refuse to wear high socks.

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Now thats out of the way, onto the good stuff.

Let’s start by explaining why and how to use gymnastics grips effectively. There are two types of grips out there in my mind, one that is meant to be used as a true grip, and the other as more of a hand protection type of equipment. I have nothing against hand protection, I am just not sold on why you would use the hand protection type of grips over an actual gymnastics grips, but regardless I will explain them.

True gymnastics grips are meant to enhance your grip on a pull-up bar and set of rings, if used correctly. These should fit a bit big, meaning the grip on your hand should have some give to it, not completely flat up against your palm. The reason for this will be brought up a bit later…

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You should also invest in either a set of sweat bands or wrist wraps like the ones in this picture to protect your wrist from the strap. Do yourself a favor and wash them every once in awhile…I wouldn’t be surprised if you can smell mine through this post.

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Now onto the juicy stuff which I realized not a lot of people understand…and that is how to actually use the grip. When you grab the pull-up the grip should have a fold in it over the top of the bar/ring. Doing this clamps the bar/ring, gives you a better grip, and redistributes the weight through the grip itself down into the strap around your wrist. See below.

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This is why they need to fit a little big and cannot be tight on the palm. The leather or whatever material the grip is using needs to be thin so the fold can happen effectively without being too big. The material also needs to be strong since it will be holding a lot of your body weight.

If the grip is flat up against your hand, it is no longer a gymnastics grip…it is just hand protection. Which is fine, but honestly why not just get a gymnastics grip and get both hand protection and an enhanced grip. Makes no sense to me, but hey personal preference I guess.

Here is some of the best grips out there right now in my opinion.

Victory Grips

These are the grips I currently use and love them. They are a little pricey compared to the others but you get what you pay for here. The leather is strong, thin, and breaks in nicely.

http://www.victorygrips.com/

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Price:
2/5 - At $40 a set these are a bit pricey.
Durability:
5/5 - High quality leather, breaks in well and lasts
Wrist Strap:
4/5 - The wrist wrap is technically the only thing that needs some work. It still digs into the wrist a bit, which is hard to get away from with a plastic clip.
Grip:
5/5 - Great great on any set of rings or pull-up bar.
Overall:
4/5 - Can’t give it a perfect score because its the most expensive grip in this article.

Bear Komplex

You got a couple options here, with both a 2-hole and 3-hole design. Disclaimer here that I have only used the black suede leather grips, which is supposedly thinner than the tan or grey ones. I already thought the grip itself was a bit thick, so if the other ones are thicker, I would stick with the black ones. Not a huge fan of the material being used, like I said its pretty thick, but this grip has the best wrist strap in the game.

http://www.bearkomplex.com/

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Price:
3/5 - $30-$35 a set, still on the higher end of grips
Durability:
5/5 - These things are built like a tank, I don’t see them breaking down at all. That being said, the thicker and more durable material being used here, impacts the grip on the pull-up bar.
Wrist Strap:
5/5 - Best wrist strap I have used, which has an extra piece of material around the strap to make it extremely comfortable to wear.
Grip:
4/5 - The material is too thick for me personally, if it was thinner this grip would be perfect.
Overall:
4/5 - A little cheaper than the Victory Grips, a little more comfortable around the wrist, but I still think the Victory Grips give you the best feel on a bar and rings.

Natural Grips

Natural grips are a really cool concept, they are just tape made grips which give you a great grip on the bar or rings, but for $20 thats an absurd price. Especially if you are a bigger human, these are like a one time use for me. I’ve never lasted through an entire workout without them ripping in half. Now if you are using them for hand protection and not an actual gymnastics grip like we talked about earlier, then these will probably last a while. That being said I can make about 5 sets of the same grips with a $5 roll of Goat Tape.

http://www.roguefitness.com/crossfit-natural-grips

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Price:
1/5 - $20 for a set of tape grips, which you can make yourself with a simple youtube search.
Durability:
1/5 - They are made of tape, so they do not last very long. Like I said they have never lasted an entire workout for me without ripping.
Wrist Strap:
0/5 - There is not wrist strap, you’ll have to tape this on.
Grip:
5/5 - Yes they do give an incredible grip on the bar, its tape so the grip itself is very thin and the tape holds chalk better than any other material. If these were durable they would be incredible and give the best grip, just not enough to hold up for me. That being said, if you are smaller they might be perfect.
Overall:
2/5 - They give an incredible grip on the bar, but for me just too expensive for how long they last, not to mention you can make a set of tape grips yourself for much cheaper.

Muscledriver Grips - Lost unicorn of gymnastics grips RIP MuscleDriver

Well of course the company that made one of my favorite grips of all time, goes out of business. MDUSA shut down their equipment company earlier this year and with that these grips became a unicorn find on the interwebs. It was all about the material of the grip here, which was a thin suede leather. The grip you got was fantastic as it was really thin but strong enough to hold up over time. If you can somehow find a set of these, buy them!

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Price:
5/5 - $20 a set, which was a great price for a set of grips that lasted over time.
Durability:
4/5 - The suede leather was solid, the only place these broke down was on the stitching to the strap itself, which pulled out over time.
Wrist Strap:
3/5 - Super basic strap here, and the stitching was spotty. This was definitely the weak point of the grip.
Grip:
5/5 - The suede was thin, held chalk well and broke in well over time. These still gave me the best grip on any pull-up bar or set of rings.
Overall:
4/5 - Like I said the only weak point was the stitching to the strap and the strap itself. If someone out there used this exact same leather as these grips and fixed the wrist strap they would be on to something special. Good luck finding a set of these grips…if you do find them somewhere, please let me know!

Hand Protection and a true Gymnastics Grip

All of the grips above are gymnastics grips and should be used as such. Using the fold to enhance your grip on the bar is a huge benefit, but if all you are looking for is hand protection then there is a few options out there. Natural grips can be used this way, and JAW grips are probably the most popular hand protection grips. They fit flat on the palm, don’t enhance grip on the bar, and in my experience actual hinder your grip by making the bar or rings thicker, but they will protect your hand.

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Both gymnastics grips and hand protection grips will do the job of keeping those hands rip free, but eventually you will rip your hands. It happens to everyone at some point, so here are some things to help minimize rips or heal up that rip as quick as possible and get you back in the game.

Hand Care Before and After a you Rip

Before

Let’s start off by taking care of your hands to minimize rips. First and foremost is getting rid of those calluses on the regular. Rips happen when those calluses get too gnarly and built up, ripping off leaving you with a big hole in your palm. You have a couple options to do so, which really comes down to personal preference.

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My favorite is a callus shaver, which is a small razor blade placed into a handle that allows you to quickly get those guys off safety. This thing is awesome, shaves off the callus easily, only takes a few minutes and is set up to make sure you don’t shave off too much skin.

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My next suggestion would be a ped egg, which is kind of like a cheese grater for your hands. Takes a little more time, and in my opinion not as clean or precise as the shaver but still does the job.

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Last would be the original way to go about this and that would be a pumice stone. This is the least precise out of the three, but the cheapest way to keep those hands smooth. My suggestion would be to use a pumice stone after you shower and the calluses are softer.

After

So you’ve taken care of your hands, shaved those calluses down, wore gymnastics grips but you still ripped. Now what???

Again, this is personal preference but here’s what I do. The first day you rip, first step is to clean it up, get rid of any skin hanging off, wash out the wound, and clean up your equipment. Sharing is caring, but not with your DNA.

Once that is all done, put some Preparation H on that thing and cover it up. Yes, Preparation H is the best way to heal that up quickly on the first day. It stings a bit putting it on, but nothing closes up that wound faster! Once that is done, you need to heal it up over the next few days. You don’t want it to dry out for a few days, thats when these things get nasty and actually crack open deeper than the original rip.

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You can use Neosporin for this but my favorite product that heals it up very quickly is the Rapid Repair Lotion from WOD Repair Lotion. It comes in a convenient stick kind of like chapstick that you can just rub on throughout the day. This will heal it up quickly and get you back into the game!

http://www.wodrepairlotion.com/rapid-repair/

I hope this helps you guys out, in summary RIPPING YOUR HANDS IS NOT COOL! Get some grips, preferably a set of gymnastics grips and learn how to use them. Take care of your hands, get rid of those calluses, and if a rip does happen, be prepared for it and get it fixed up quickly.

Deuces!