The ultimate guide to the false grip

What is the false grip?

The false grip has its origins in gymnastics where it was used to facilitate various exercises. This is a key element of training on the rings. However, the false grip can also be used on the bar.

Currently, the false grip is not only associated with gymnastics, it is becoming more and more popular in the calisthenics and fitness communities. 

The false grip combines a neutral grip and above the grip, where your wrist is above the bar/rings as opposed to under the bar/rings with a neutral grip.

Benefits of the false grip

muscle ups transition

The false grip allows you to move your body from below the bar/rings to above the bar/rings without moving your hands.

That eliminates the need of momentum for the transition phase. Which allows you to do muscle ups only with strength (strict muscle ups) and gives you full control of your body during the movement.

Shortens the lever

In many exercises, the lever – length from your body to the rings plays the key role. Especially in static holds like an iron cross or front lever, even a tiny difference will make the exercise easier.

Using the false grip you wrap your hand around the bar, which shortens your arm and hence the lever as well. 

The false grip will increase the time you can hold a position and make it easier, maybe even it will allow you to go to the next progression.

Shortens the range of motion

Shorter arms affect not only static positions but also exercises for repetitions.

With shorter arms, the range of motion will also be shorter. The shortened range of motion reduces the muscle’s time under tension. That makes the exercises like pull ups or front lever pull ups much easier

How to perform the false grip

The thicker the bar the easier it will be to apply the false grip. A thicker bar means more surface to wrap your hands around. Gymnastics rings are usually 28mm(1.1’’) or 32 mm(1.25’’) so it will be easier on the 32mm ones. When it comes to the bar, the diameter usually is between 32mm for pull up bars and 45 mm for dip bars

on the rings

step-by-step guide on how to do false grip on rings

  1. Place your palm on the inner side of the ring. The ring should go diagonally in your palm from between your index finger and thumb to the bottom of the outer side of your palm.
  2. Wrap your fingers around the ring, don’t forget about your thumb.
  3. Curl your hand inward and pull down on both rings. You should feel pressure on the pisiform bone

on the bar

step-by-step guide on how to do a false grip on the bar

  1. Place an open hand over the bar
  2. Grab the bar. The bar should go diagonally in your palm from between your index finger and thumb to the bottom of the outer side of your palm.
  3. Wrap your fingers around the ring and curl your hand outward.
  4. While hanging you should feel pressure on your wrist.

How to master the false grip

Wrist flexibility

If you can’t even get into the proper hand position it’s because your wrists are not flexible enough. To make the false grip as comfortable and easy as possible you need good wrist flexion mobility. To achieve that you need to stretch the extensor muscles of your forearms.

Here’s a great follow along routine for wrist mobility

False grip dead hang

Dead hang with a false grip will strengthen your grip and accustom your body to that unnatural grip.

Do this exercise for 3 sets, each 10-60 second hold

False grip bent arm hold

This variation will improve the range of motion you can hold with the false grip.

Do this exercise for 3 sets, each 10-60 second hold, try different ranges of motion

False grip rows

False grip rows will build pulling strength with the false grip

False grip pull ups

After you can hang for some time with a false grip and do a couple of regular pull ups, you should be able to do the false grip pull ups.

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