Reliable grips are a crucial piece of gear that can’t be overlooked, which is why they are a mainstay in the workout bags of both amateur and professional CrossFitters. Finding the right grips can make the difference between comfortable workouts and blisters, or even potentially dangerous mistakes while working out.
In this article we will take a look at what CrossFit grips do, the brands that major CrossFit athletes use, and some of the best consumer CrossFit hand grips available online right now, along with the pros and cons of each.
What are Grips and What do They Do?
CrossFit grips help you maintain your grip on bars during a workout while protecting the palms of your hands from blisters and torn callouses.
They are made from leather or other durable, grippy materials and cover the palm of your hand without impeding your movement like a glove would. Most models include 2 to 4 finger holes to keep the grip in place while working out, although there are models without finger holes as well. Some grips include an additional cuff around the wrist to keep them in place.
At a bare minimum, CrossFit grips should protect your hands.
CrossFit exercises can expose the palms of your hands to a lot of friction and abrasion, which can eventually damage them. This is more than irritating – it can derail your fitness plan.
If you have open blisters or torn callouses on your hands, you can’t do much. You have to let them heal and avoid infection before you can return to normal training, and that can take weeks. CrossFit grips help you protect your hands during exercises so that you can avoid developing the problems that come with handling weights and kettlebells with bare hands.
In addition to keeping your hands safe, CrossFit grips should improve your ability to do exercises safely by removing the possibility of slippage. If you don’t have reliable grips, you could potentially drop heavy weights or otherwise hurt yourself in certain exercises.
How Can Wearing Grips Help my CrossFit Performance?
Grips can reduce subtle pain in your hands, improve your grip, and help your confidence.
If you don’t use grips, it’s easy to assume you do not need them, but once you try them out, you can tell the difference immediately. You might think you have a good grip on the bar with your bare hands, but once you have an actual CrossFit grip you can channel more of your energy into performing the exercise and less into holding the bar.
This can improve your workouts while making them safer at the same time.
What Sort of Grips are Best for Crossfit, and When Should I Wear Them?
Hand grips for CrossFit come in all shapes and sizes, and which ones are optimal for you will depend on the kind of exercises you perform as well as your experience and your personal preferences.
You don’t necessarily need grips for regular barbell lifting or other exercises in which you actively want to increase your grip strength.
Regular workout gloves are fine for most situations, so grips are best suited to exercises in which you need to protect the palms of your hands and gain maximum grip while also preserving your range of movement.
Hand grips are ideal for exercises like:
- Toes to bar
- Kettlebell swing
- Olympic Rings
- Pull Ups
- Chin Ups
What Grips do CrossFit’s Top Athletes Wear?
As of the 2021 CrossFit Games, among the top-tier CrossFit athletes, there is a definite preference for two brands: Bear KompleX and Victory.
Rich Froning regularly uses his own signature model of Bear KompleX 3-Hole Hand Grips. In the 2020 CrossFit Games, Justin Medeiros, Samuel Kwant, Haley Adams, Noah Ohlson, and Tia Claire-Toomey also used Bear KompleX grips. Bear KompleX has a great reputation for durable leather grips that have an exceptional hold, which is probably why so many professional CrossFitters use them.
Victory grips are also very popular with professional CrossFitters like Annie Thorisdottir and Kari Pearce. Their Tactical 3-finger hand grips are legendary and show up frequently in competitions.
Mat Fraser, Katrin Davidsdottir, and Brooke Wells all swear by Rogue Leather Gymnastic Grips.
What to Look For When Buying Grips for Crossfit?
Many CrossFit grips are made from leather, which is an ideal material in terms of durability and grip but does take a while to break in initially. If you buy a leather hand grip, you can’t expect it to feel comfortable until you’ve worked out with it for a while, but when it does finally break in you’ll be able to keep it a long time.
Carbon fiber fabrics are popular because they are lightweight, durable, and can be very grippy.
Materials like neoprene that can be washed and dried are usually a bad choice because they don’t hold up the same way over time to the kind of intense abrasion, sweat, and general abuse that hand grips need to take.
This is a tradeoff between the thickness of the grip and your ability to feel the bar.
Some athletes prefer very thin grips because they like the sense of control that comes from feeling the bar. Others prefer thick grips that allow them to focus on the exercise and forget about the bar completely.
Many people size their CrossFit hand grips too small, thinking the material should match the size of the palm of your hand, when in fact there should be extra slack available.
If the grips are too small, during certain exercises the material will tighten and you will need to make skin contact with the bar. Undersizing your grips is an easy way to get blisters and torn callouses, which defeats the purpose.
Most grips come in 2 and 3 finger varieties. The 2 finger grips give you a little more freedom of motion, while the 3 finger grips help you keep the grip in place more easily. It’s a matter of personal preference, but 3 finger holes is generally more intuitive.
Some companies offer grips without finger holes as well, so you can pull back the material if you want to do rope skipping or other exercises without removing the grips.
The 7 best Grips for CrossFit (in 2022)
Rogue V2 Gymnastics Grips (Best Bang-For-Buck!)
These grips are favored by Mat Fraser, who keeps them at the ready in his workout bag. They also show up regularly in competitions, so it is clear that Rogue is doing something right here.
The Rogue V2 Gymnastics Grips are gray and made from American leather. They are reversible so that you can turn the material around to the back of your hand if you want to do an exercise with skin contact. They come with 2 finger holes, a 2.5″ width.
These grips are $30 on Rogue’s website.
- Quality construction
- Durable materials
- Custom cuff design
- Simple to use
- Plain appearance
Victory Grips come in many different models, with 2,3, and 4 finger holes models as well as fingerless variety.
The Tactical Grip is made from a high-performance rubber polymer along with Kevlar for abrasion resistance and sweat-wicking. It offers a superior grip and no stretching.
The X2 is softer, with more cushion, and is made from a synthetic material that is vegan-friendly.
Victory also offers traditional leather grips which stretch out an additional half-inch with wear
The tactical 3-finger is one of Victory’s most popular models and is $58 on the Victory website.
- Superior grip
- Many custom options
- Durable construction
- Nicer Colors and Style
Bear KompleX Hand Grips (Best Overall)
These grips are popular with professional CrossFitters and essentially swept the 2020 CrossFit games, with almost 60% of competitors using them.
Bear KompleX 3-Hole Carbon Fiber grips are their most popular model (a 2-finger hole version is also available). They are constructed from carbon fiber and leather, with a custom wrist strap underneath the buckle that won’t cut into your wrist.
Bear KompleX 3 Hole Carbon Fiber grips are $40 on their website.
- Excellent grip
- Durable construction
- Simple Design
- Wrist Strap
- Leather takes a while to break in
These durable grips are favored by professional CrossFitters like Jeffrey Adler.
Picsil grips are made of leather and synthetic materials. They provide a great grip and come in 2, 3, and no-finger varieties. The Golden Eagle is their most popular model. It has excellent grip, but reviewers have noted that they wear out a little faster than leather grips and they’re not the most comfortable.
You can find a range of Picsil grips, with the Eagle model starting around $40.
- Good grip
- Well designed
- Not as well known
- Not the most comfortable
These grips are made from neoprene, which makes them washer and dryer friendly, but also means the durability of some other grips just isn’t there. You can keep them clean easily, but expect them to wear out a little bit sooner.
The connected wrist support is not great for weightlifting and could restrict the range of exercises you can perform.
These grips are cheaper than some of the competition, at around $30 on Amazon.com
- Machine washable
- Wrist support restricts movement
- Neoprene wears out quickly
- Grip isn’t the best
Comparing the Best Grips for CrossFit
If you follow the example of professional CrossFitters, you’re looking for a grip that protects your hands while providing a superior grip so that you can perform exercises better and more safely.
Some factors come down to personal preference: the number of finger holes, for example, is more about what you like than about what will perform best.
What does matter is the material: leather, carbon fiber, and polymerized rubber are superior to some of the other synthetic materials out there when it comes to durability and grip.
Victory grips, Rogue, and Bear KompleX offer some of the best options, but you can’t know exactly what will work best for you until you try out some different grips and determine what feels ideal for the exercises you are performing.