Looking for a pair of CrossFit hand grips that don’t rip and prevent hand tears or calluses?
You’re in the right spot!
In this Athletic Muscle guide I go over:
- Training with grips vs without handgrips
- The 2 biggest benefits of using hand grips for CrossFit workouts
- The 7 things you need to lookout for when buying grips
- And my 6 favorite brands based on personal experience (and many tears).
Bear KompleX III
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Overall #1 Pick
Updated As of 12/7/19
Despite the 100’s of new brands popping up selling these types of CrossFit gymnastic grips. At the end of the day my #1 pick still went to the Bear KompleX III brand.
Because with their textured inner and outer layer of genuine leather material makes getting a good grip on the bar easy.
The quadruple stitching ensures these grips won’t break down and the velcro strap holds well.
I’ve personally owned a pair for for 3+ years without any issue. After a break-in period of about 2-3 weeks, they’re now reliably protecting my hands during all my pull up bar related workouts.
There’s a reason essentially every CrossFit gym recommends these grips for folks, they just work. Are they a bit more expensive? Sure, but you’ll end up wasting a ton of money and more importantly, time, buying and returning various pairs of cheaper grips.
The only downside in my opinion is the lack of wrist support, although this is a nit pick, because the primary objective of this equipment is hand protection not wrist support. If you’re a CrossFit athlete in need of a good pair of wrist straps, click here to read my write up.
Let’s be honest, any serious CrossFit athlete or fitness enthusiast should keep a pair of hand grips (aka gymnastic grips) in their gym bag.
Why? Because hand grips promote consistent training and longevity of your hands.
Without them, you risk getting blisters, ripping calluses, and missing workouts during your CrossFit training routine.
Let’s just jump right in.
Top 6 Best CrossFit Hand Grips
Check out our below list for a summary of our results. Keep on reading to learn more about your hand grip options.
- Bear KompleX III (ultra durable leather, best of the best)
- Jerkfit WODies (patented “no bunch or pinch design”)
- 321 Strong (cheapest, but work well)
- Profitness Training Gloves
- WOD Nation Hand Grips
- PHERAL FIT Natural Leather Grips
The right pair of hand grips will allow you to stay on the bar or rings longer, which will increase your performance during workouts and make you stronger in the long run.
The problem is that not all grips are made equally, and in many cases, they aren’t made well at all. For example, the velcro strap frays and breaks down, or the actual grip slips.
Grips that are too bulky, don’t fit right, or make gripping a pull-up bar more difficult are more common than you think.
In this article, we’ll review why you should train with hand grips, the benefits of hand grips for CrossFit, and what to look for when buying hand grips.
Training With Hand Grips Vs Without Hand Grips?
Should you train with hand grips? Probably, but it depends on your goals.
You may even use them for barbell lifts if the bar has a thick knurling and you have a lot of repetitions to complete.
Assuming you do CrossFit, this basically means your goals are in line with someone who needs good pair of hand grips.
Just because you own a pair, doesn’t mean you have to wear them all the time. But having a good pair of hand grips could save you from missing a week of training due to a tear.
Can You Use Hand Grips For Weightlifting?
A common question I get in the gym a lot from newbie CrossFitters, is if you can use hand grips for olympic movements like the clean and jerk or push press.
My answer would be that yes, of course you can use your grips for these movements. In fact, I would advise it if you feel like your calluses are getting in the way. If I tear a callus in the middle of workout or feel like im getting dangerously close, i’ll grab one or both to save myself.
How To Use CrossFit Hand Grips?
Did you know most people actually use their gymnastics hand grips totally wrong?
Most folks grab onto the bar like they would without grips, when instead you should be creating a pocket of material to grab the bar with.
Doing this will take all of the pressure off your hand and give you maximum grip while on the bar. Check out the video below for more information.
What Are The Benefits Of CrossFit Grips?
As mentioned, there are two major benefits of wearing hand grips (also called gymnastics grips) for CrossFit:
1. They (usually) provide you with good grip
Is it your grip that’s first to fail on pull-ups or toes to bar? Is that failure actual muscular failure, or is it due to hand discomfort while on the bar?
Hand grips help improve your grip by increasing the traction you have with the bar.
So instead of coming off the bar at 8 because your hands are sore, you can really push it and crank out the last few reps.
2. Reduces pressure for your hands
Second, and most important, is that hand grips keep you from missing training sessions.
It may seem silly to think that a ripped callus can force you to miss workouts, but anyone that’s ever ripped one knows it’s a real thing.
Think about how many fundamental CrossFit movements require you to grip something with your hands.
If deadlifts, cleans, or anything to do with the pull-up bar or rings come up, you’ll be SOL until your ripped hand heals.
Grips take some of the pressure off your hands when doing high impact movements. For example, for my grips, I create a pocket for the pull-up bar to sit in when I grab the bar. I essentially don’t feel anything and have amazing grip.
What Are The Type Of Hand Grips For CrossFit?
Depending on the size of your hand and what feels comfortable, you’ll be able to choose from a few kinds of hand grips.
2 Finger Hand Grips
As they are smaller in size, hand grips with 2 fingers will feel less bulky on your hands and maybe more comfortable.
If you have wider hands, 2 finger hand grips might expose your pinky finger callus.
Especially if you use a wide grip on pull-ups, it may not be enough material to cover your hand. I have small hands and still prefer the 3 finger grip.
3 Finger Hand Grips
The benefit of 3 finger grips is having your whole hand covered.
The downside is that there is more material covering the wider part of your hand, so it may not feel as comfortable when you hang from the bar.
3 finger grips will better protect you from calluses, but if your hands are smaller or the material you go with (see below) is too bulky, it might actually decrease your grip strength by making the pull-up bar thicker.
I will say however, I’m 5’6″ and my hands are smaller than the average guy’s hands, and I don’t have any issue with the size of the grips. Just make sure to pick the correct size from the brand you end up going with. Bear Komplex offers small, medium, and large. Medium is perfect for me.
What Should You Look For When Buying Hand Grips?
Here are 4 things to keep in mind when you buy hand grips for CrossFit workouts:
The most important thing you must do is get an accurate measurement of your hand size so that you order the correct pair of hand grips.
Most hand grips say to measure from the base of your palm to the base of your middle finger to figure out which size will fit your hand.
Additionally, be sure to look at the finger hole sizing if you have smaller or larger fingers.
2. Material (Genuine Leather vs Latex vs Polyester)
Genuine leather and neoprene hand grips are the most common materials you’ll find.
Some grips, like WODies and 321 Strong, hold patents on the technology they use on their material to ensure they either fit right or glide well when being used.
Consider the thickness of the material you are purchasing. Ideally, your hand grips are as thin as possible while still providing support and protection from bar friction.
Generally, leather is better for longevity but take longer to break in.
Flexibility of your hand grips will determine how comfortable they feel and how they “flex” when doing toes to bar, etc.
You want a pair that naturally moves with your hands, not something that prevents you from actually feeling the bar. That and your wrists shouldn’t lose range of motion due to the straps.
The pair you choose should be flexible enough to move with your hand without you doing anything. If it folds over or doesn’t move with natural hand movements, find a different pair.
4. Wrist strap
Many hand grips come with a wrist strap that uses velcro or some sort of buckle to hold them in place.
Some wrist straps, like the Natural Grip (which were featured and funded on Shark Tank) come with no wrist strap. Instead, you use athletic tape to hold them in place before each use.
Others like the WODies are more bulky around the wrist.
If you CrossFit, you already know that cheap equipment will wear down quickly during workouts.
Read reviews carefully, as many hand grips sell for cheap, but only last for a few workouts. You want a pair that are durable and will hold up to the rigors of various types of workouts. Again, leather is generally more durable. I’ve been using my Bear Komplex grips for 2+ years with no problem.
Some hand grips like the WODies, have more bulk around the wrist that almost acts like a de-facto wrist wrap but reduces flexibility and breathability during workout where you’re likely to be moving through an intense metcon. In general, hand grips shouldn’t be too bulky around your wrist.
7. Wrist Support
On the other hand, you might prefer simultaneous wrist support AND hand protection. For example, thrusters to pull-up bar type workouts will have you moving around a lot. I like a bit of wrist support to help with these types of workouts.
CrossFit Gloves Vs CrossFit Hand Grips, What’s The Difference?
When thinking about buying a pair of grips you might consider just buying a pair of CrossFit gloves instead. I mean why not just completely cover your hand for full palm protection?
It’s a valid point, but I would advise against actually going all in on gloves as you’re going to lose a lot of flex in your hand.
Chances your EMOM or AMRAP workout is going to require you to do more with your hands than just pull ups or toes to bar, which is probably going make any other type of movement more difficult than it should be.
For example, trying to lock in a good hook grip on a barbell with a pair of gloves is going to be difficult as you lose a couple millimeters of distance, which can make a huge difference in grip.
Read Also: What is the hook grip?
With a pair of hand grips you can just pull back the velcro and twist the grip around your hand in between movements to give you your mobility back and get a solid hook grip on your barbell.
To be honest, I can’t think of any CrossFit scenario where I would actually want gloves over grips, but hey that’s just my opinion after 1,000’s of workouts.
Top Crossfit Hand Grips Reviewed
Bear Komplex make one of the most popular leather hand grip options for CrossFit athletes in search for quality hand protection.
They are latex-free, heavy duty with textured leather material, and don’t wear down after a few uses. The come in different sizes and 2 hole and 3 hole variants.
Although slightly more expensive, they are 100% worth it. I’ve been using the same pair for over 3 years with no issues.
The leather breaks in quickly after about 2-3 months of use. I do know folks who say the leather never actually breaks in, but really, they just don’t use the grips enough. Regardless, they are durable enough to last a long time.
Personally. I prefer the Bear Komplex 3 hole hand grips as they offer a full palm protection with more leather to cover your hand. My only issue has to be the super thin velcro wrist strap. I wish it provided more support like the Pheral Fit or the WODies.
WODies hand grips come with 3 holes and a velcro wrist wrap too.
They are much thinner than a typical leather hand grip, using patented material designed to absorb friction with absolutely no bunching or pinching of your hands during a workout.
Reviews of these grips stand up. People think they are durable, fit better than leather, and work like they should. The “glide” technology is hit or miss though. Either you love it and you’re crushing your workouts, or you can’t hold on to the bar.
One unique benefit is that Wodies are machine washable. Unlike leather, this is one of the few pieces of gym equipment you can periodically clean.
A much cheaper option than the other two listed, 321 strong makes a leather pair of hand grips that comes with 2 holes and a velcro wrist wrap.
321 Strong hand grips might be a good starter pair before you invest in something more expensive.
Reviews of these grips say that they hold up, but sometimes bunch if you have bigger hands or don’t tighten the wrist wrap enough.
The finger holes are also a little large for some sizes, so make sure to accurately measure if you go with these ones.
The are an interesting addition to our product round-up. A bit cheaper than the Bear Komplex grips these are made of genuine leather with suede hand guards. They’re tripled stitched and have a bit more chunk around the wrist area.
One interesting note (and the only reason they made it on my list) is that they have a lifetime replacement guarantee.
They are the only brand to offer that benefit. Given the nature of hand grips, you’re probably actually going to take advantage of their offer, so it could sway you!
These are grips for the budget conscious CrossFit athlete. WOD Nation only offers 2 colors and only the 2 hole style. They use genuine leather for the grip and nylon for the wrist strap.
The wrist strap itself is very small and doesn’t offer any support for your wrists.
The leather itself is very thin, which some folks say is actually better as you get all the benefit and pressure relief of the grip without losing too much distance between your hand and the bar.
This can be good and bad. The good is you get a good tight grip on the bar, but the bad if the leather will most likely tear within 1 year.
Honestly, I think these are just more expensive versions of the 321 Strong Grips. They appear to have the same features with minimal difference in quality.
PHERAL FIT Natural Leather Grips
- Genuine leather and nylon wrist strap
- Extra wrist support
- Inner leather material is slick
No products found.
The Pheral Fit brand of grips offer another variant on the “thin” approach to the leather. Although these have a bit more support around the wrist,
The brand also offers a pretty good 6 months satisfaction guarantee, with a lot of customers reporting they actually do get their money back if they’re unhappy with the performance.
Something worth pointing out, the leather on the inside of the grips (i.e., the leather that touches your hand) is slick, and can result in slipping off the bar or still developing calluses as you try to grip tighter to counter act.
So, there’s that.
Our Top Pick For Best Grips: Bear Komplex
You want a pair of hand grips for CrossFit that are durable, prevent pinching on the bar or rings, and fit snug on your hands, then you need to grad the Bear Komplex brand.
The outter leather and inner leather provide lots of friction to get a tight grip on the bar and enough protection to prevent calluses and blisters and missing any workouts.
While hand grips are small and even inexpensive, they are an important component of any serious CrossFit athletes gym bag.
Even if you don’t use them for every workout, finding a good pair will keep you training longer and harder than you will be without them.