In the past I’ve written about how to avoid hand tears. You can read about two simple solutions to prevent your calluses from ripping off here (or the summarized version here).
But gymnastic grips are also a helpful solution to reducing the friction between your hand and the apparatus (i.e. bar or rings).
When choosing a gymnastic grip, you must consider two things: how many holes and the material.
How Many Holes?
Two-hole grips are for the rings. Three-hole grips are for the bars.
Two-hole grips are better for the rings because they are smaller. Because rings are round, you want a grip that will follow the curve of the rings with your hand.
Three-hole grips are better for the bar because they are wider. In other words, you want the grip to cover as much surface area as possible.
But what about the no-hole grips? I like these a lot as well for the simple fact that you can move the grip around in a metcon. But the same principle as above applies, whether or not they have holes in them: You want a thinner grip across the hand if you tear primarily on the rings. You want a wider grip across the hand if you tear primarily on the bars.
You have four materials to choose from: rubber, synthetic, carbon fiber, and leather.
Rubber: The main benefit is that these are durable–they will last you forever.
Synthetic: This material is the cheapest option and will allow you to feel like your hand is bare on the bar.
Carbon Fiber: Many athletes love this material because it’s so grippy.
Leather: These will stretch out slightly over the years, but they are both durable and grippy.
A Final Consideration
A gymnastic grip should not fit perfectly to the size of your hand. Instead, grips with finger holes should have enough length so that when gripping the bar, you can create a fold of material between the bar and your fingers while having a smooth surface on the palm.
This fold of material, also known as the dowel effect, is what helps you hold on by creating torque.The edge of this fold should come to your fingertips. If the edge of the fold is anywhere below the first knuckle crease of your fingers the grips are too short.
The top of the finger holes, when engaging the dowel effect, will put downward pressure on the fingers creating a tighter hold. Additionally, when your fingers are in the holes it helps distribute the forces on the material of the grips, thus preventing them from prematurely ripping (between the palm and wrist). Therefore, when using finger hole grips properly they are more durable than fingerless grips.
For a video that explains this further, click here.
Grips are a fantastic way to prevent hand tears. They are also a helpful way to stay on the bar/rings longer when performing an exercise.
The width of the grip and material are two considerations to take into account before buying a pair.
If you want my recommendation, I prefer the three-hole, X2 grips sold by Victory Grips (here).
But before you buy any, use this sizing guide. Don’t buy them too short. You want to be able to create the dowel effect.