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Why the False Grip and Protecting Your Wrist

by Victor Pellegrino on April 29, 2016

We can all agree that building a foundation of strength is key to the proper development of skills in CrossFit, whether gymnastics or Olympic lifting. One of the most effective ways to build this strength foundation is through strict gymnastics based exercises, such as the muscle up. Keep in mind that a true muscle up is actually a strict controlled movement with the body as vertical as possible, and with no kipping action at all. What we call a kipping a muscle up is actually a front uprise in gymnastics.

To work these strict gymnastics movements on the rings or on the bar it is imperative to have a good false grip. To quote long time gymnastics coach of the US Jr. National Team, Coach Sommer, (for the false grip) “your grip should be pressing on the ring in a diagonal from the bottom knuckle on your index finger, across your palm to the heel of your hand as well as somewhat on your wrist as well (this is where those wonderful blisters on your wrist come from).” The false grip is going to give you the necessary leverage to allow you to transition from below the rings or bar to on top, as well as have better control of your body during strict movements. There are several benefits of having a good false grip and using it to train strict gymnastics movements.

The false grip requires a lot of wrist and forearm strength and flexibility, which translates into better stability and power in Olympic lifts and repetitive kipping gymnastics movements. I am not saying that you will be using a true false grip while Olympic lifting or doing kipping muscle ups. What I am saying is that by doing false grip work you will gain better control of your wrist in dynamic movements, which will impact power through the kinetic chain from recruiting power from your forearms, helping stabilize your shoulders, and recruiting power properly in the lats.

You can see the benefit of a strong flexible wrist and forearm in these images of the snatch and front uprise (or kipping ring muscle up). Focusing on the wrist you see that the wrist is in a neutral (aka neutral false grip) to a flexed position in the different phases of the movements. You can then also begin to understand how doing false grip work with strict gymnastics movements will translate into better body awareness and control throughout the competitive dynamic skills of functional fitness.

Let’s talk quickly about another aspect of your wrist and the false grip. It’s not the most comfortable thing on your wrist. At first it will cause blisters on the pinky side of your wrist. This is the reason why I designed Victory Grips to wrap around this particular side of the wrist in order to provide comfort and protection. This will allow you to train the false grip with more frequency and focus as you will not be caring as much as about how painful your wrist feel while training, nor having to wait as long for your wrist to heal. I urge you to give it a shot with and without Victory Grips to see the difference.

For some good sources about the false grip, various progressions and training methods, please check out these links, which have legit information.
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