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Importance of the False Grip: In-depth Guide

Do you know there is a secret grip used by Olympic gymnasts and professional Crossfit athletes to boost your performance?

The false grip maybe be one of the most under-utilized grips in fitness. When used properly they can help you achieve movements that you thought were impossible.

In this post, we will go over;

  • what the false grip is
  • why it the false grip is beneficial
  • and how to master the false grip.

What is the False Grip?

The false grip is most notable as a grip used in gymnastics where the wrist is place over the gymnastic rings. However, the false grip is also utilized on the bar.

Recently with calisthenics and functional fitness increasing in popularity, the false grip has become more known outside of gymnastics as well.

Contrast to the standard grip where the bar or ring is place on the top of you palm and the wrist is under that bar, the false grip places involves wrapping your hand around the bar/rings which places the wrist over the bar.

False Grip Benefits

Here are the four benefits of the false grip.

1) Easy transition

To perform the muscle-up, the false grip is essential. The muscle-up consists of three phases.

  • the pulling phase
  • the transition phase
  • the dips

To perform the transition phase, you will need a false grip unless you plan to kip during the muscle-up. If you want a clean and strict muscle-up the false grip is absolutely necessary.

The false grip allows you to perform the muscle-up without having to re-adjust the grip.

2) Shortens the Lever

Some static holds like the iron cross or maltese are so difficult that any edge and advantage you can obtain to help hold the movement is an edge gymnastics are willing to take.

For an exercise like the iron cross, using a false grip will essentially shorten your arm and therefore the torque that your muscles need to produce to maintain the isometric position.

The false grip will allow you to hold a position you previously didn't have the strength for in the standard grip.

Secondly, or it will help you hold a position easier and longer than when you were performing it in the standard grip.

3) Shorten the ROM(range of motion)

Since the contact point is moved from your palm to your wrist, you have essentially made your arms shorter by around 10cm. Therefore, the range of motion will also be shorter.

Now getting you chin to the bar on a chin-up just got easier. Instead of having to get your chin to your palms to complete a chin-up , you now only need to get your chin to your wrists to complete the rep.


4) Works your forearm

The false grip is a great workout for your forearms.

The False grip is an isometric hold in wrist flexion and extensively works you flexors and brachioradialis.

Strengthening these muscles will translate to many other exercises and movements.

Furthermore, you can mostly likely ditch the boring forearm exercises if you are performing compound movements that require a false grip.


How to Perform the False grip

The first most important tip to perform the false grip is to apply chalk. Do not just apply the chalk on your palms but also apple on your wrists and ever lower arm since the false grip will have a contact point there.

A) On the rings

For the average person, it is easier to hold the false grip on the thicker 32mm rings rather than the thinner 28mm version because you have more surface area to wrap your hands around.

Step 0: Apply Chalk thoroughly

Step 1: Grab the rings from the side (like you are about to start arm wrestling)

Step 2: Slide your hands down

B) On the bars

It is much easier to hold a false grip on a bar that is 32mm-50mm thick that is powder coated.

Step 0: Apply Chalk thoroughly

Step 1a (if you have a platform): Step up onto a platform so you can easily grab the bar. Place your hands on the bar like you're about to perform a dip on them. Then lower down

Step 1b: Jump to grab the bar with both hands and secure a false grip. If it's not perfect you can do a small kip to adjust whichever side needs to be fixed.

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How to Master the False Grip

Now that you are aware of the benefits on the false grip, it is time to learn how to master it!

Perform these exercise progressions to better your false grip. Be sure to use chalk before starting. You can have the strongest grip in the world, but your hand and bar is slippery, the false grip will be 100x harder to hold.

Here are the 6 false grip progressions in increasing difficulty;

1) False Grip Dead Hang

Grab the rings or bar with a false-grip and hang there for 5-30 seconds. Repeat for 3 sets.

2) False Grip Bent Arm Hang

Grab the rings or bar with a false-grip and hang there in the bent arm position (90 degrees) for 5-30 seconds.

3) Weighted False Grip Dead Hand

Grab the rings or bar with a false-grip and hang there in the bent arm position (90 degrees) for 5-30 seconds while adding weight to your body by wearing a weighted vest.

4) False Grip Rows

The next progression is to adopt the false grip by grabbing either rings or a bar that is at chest height or lower and lean back into a body weight row position with your feet on the ground.This will get you used to the false grip while adding a portion of you bodyweight to it.

Grab the rings or bar with a false-grip and perform inverted rows for 3-10 reps. Keep a few reps in the tank. You don't want to go to failure and tire yourself out.

5) False Grip Pull-ups

Now its time to pull your entire bodyweight with the false grip. Grab the rings or bar with a false-grip and perform pull-ups for 3-10 reps. Similarly, keep a few reps in the tank. You don't want to go to failure and tire yourself out. You can also consider using resistance bands to make the movement more manageable.

6) One-arm False Grip Dead Hang

Grab the rings or bar with a false-grip with one hand and hang there for 5-20 seconds.

About the Author

Remy started calisthenics in 2014 and has mastered advanced movements such as the one arm pull-up, front-lever, one arm muscle-up and more.

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