Why Do CrossFitters Tape Their Thumbs? (Explained!)

Anyone watching a CrossFit competition or the CrossFit games will notice the almost religious pre-event ritual of thumb taping. Athletes wind sports tape around their hands (usually their thumbs) before setting foot on the arena floor. But why? 

This article will discover why CrossFitters tape their thumbs. You’ll also learn when to tape your thumb while training and how to tape your thumb, the potential benefits of this grip style, and an insider thumb tap buying guide.

Why do CrossFitters tape their thumbs?

Because of the protection, it provides for thumbs, sports tape is becoming increasingly popular in CrossFit. When CrossFitters employ the “hook grip,” this increases their grip strength for heavy barbell activities like deadlifts, and is also essential for any Olympic lifts due to the hand position changes required!

halk can assist, but when it comes to the strength required for a powerful lift like a clean or a snatch, you’ll want to be sure you have a firm hold on the barbell. You don’t want the barbell to fly away from your grip.

Does hook grip damage your thumbs?

No, if you use the proper technique, the hook grip will not harm your thumb. If you utilize the wrong hook grasp technique, you risk damaging your thumbnail or knuckle. As the name implies, the hook grip gives you a firm grip when lifting.

When should you tape your thumbs when training?

When executing a hook grip, the thumb might be subjected to a lot of friction, which can cause skin tears. Tape any time you’re hanging from the bar or using the barbell.

How do you tape your thumb for CrossFit?

Wrapping your thumbs with tape before crossfitting can help prevent injury. I find it incredibly beneficial. It will not only help avoid any injuries and help you save some skin and cuticles while lifting, but it may also aid in the locking in of the thumb’s position on the bar. So, how do you tape your thumb for CrossFit? The procedure is as follows:

  • Tear a strip of the tape you want to use. 
  • Wrap the tape around the lower part of your thumb to the top. 
  • Wrap it one more time and avoid the knuckle.
  • Finish by wrapping the tape around the back of your finger, away from where the bar will rub, to prevent it from rubbing off during your lifts.

TIP: Use not too many LAYERS. You still want to be able to feel the bar and not be restricted in your movements.

What to look for when buying thumb tape

Lifting tape is one of the most cost-effective training tools available, but that doesn’t mean you should buy any reel and expect it to work. When purchasing thumb tape, keep the following three factors in mind.


Lifting tape differs from typical athletic tape in that it is less complicated and more stretchy. When shopping for lifting tape, aim for flexible materials that won’t restrict your thumb movement. Even with two or three layers of tape wrapped over your thumbs, you should be able to bend and move them effortlessly. 


Some of the less expensive lifting tapes will only stay on for a few reps before you have to re-tape. Do your research before buying lifting tape, and select a brand that is proven to last through long workouts.


After applying the lifting tape, it shouldn’t move around your thumbs. To keep the tape in position and prevent it from sliding or bunching up after each exercise, seek one with a sticky adhesive. 

Also, some tape is made to attach just to itself, not to your flesh. If you need a tape that won’t move around a lot, search for something that clings well to both.

What thumb tape do you need to buy?

We took 10 popular thumb tape brands for a test drive to determine which ones are tear-able and which ones get the thumbs up

Read our write up on The Best Thumb Tape For Hookgrip and CrossFit here to find out more!

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