Part of starting gymnastic bodyweight training as an adult means learning some new lingo. My first gymnastics class happened to be on a muscle-up day at Awaken gymnastic bodyweight training facility in Denver, CO. Although I’ve always been fit, I was completely unfamiliar with this foreign term, and didn’t have the strength to complete a dead hang pull-up prior to taking classes here. So when the coach told us to do false grip pull-ups, I’m sure I looked like a deer in headlights; praying that someone would translate for me. Fast forward years later, as an instructor at the Denver gym Awaken Gymnastics, I see that same terrified and confused look on new student’s faces when they hear the words, “false grip.” We are often scared by what we don’t know. Let me translate:
Defining False Grip
The false grip is a specific hand position that gymnasts use on rings and sometimes straight bar. Most people instinctively grip the rings from below with a neutral wrist and palms facing in or forward. False grip requires one to grip the rings in wrist flexion, so that the palms face downward. Wrist strength, here we come!
Though false grip can be challenging and uncomfortable at first, it’s a skill worth developing if you want to move beyond pull-ups and dips. Here’s why it’s so important:
The main purpose of the false grip is to allow easy transition from one plane of movement to another on the rings without having to switch hand position. The most basic example is a muscle-up; you are beginning under the rings in a dead hang, and finishing on top of the rings in a top support. Without false grip, it’s impossible to move your palms from one side of the ring to another in order to make this transition.
Forearm, wrist, and grip strength
Have you ever gawked at the size of an elite gymnast’s forearms? They are massive and defined; and it’s not from doing wrist curls. Using false grip develops a great amount of forearm strength and endurance, especially when executing advanced ring skills or long holds. This is especially beneficial to those whose sports require grip strength such as climbers and lifters.
Gymnastics is all about physics. There is a good reason why elite gymnasts are so, well, short. The shorter the body lever (aka legs and arms), the less work it requires to move. When you adjust the point of contact with the rings from your palm to your wrist, you are shortening the lever that is your arm. It may only be by an inch or two, but those inches make a big difference when you’re hanging your body weight on your lats for a front lever. Gymnastic bodyweight training, however, isn’t only for the light and tight short gymnasts. With proper fundamental and strength training, a person of any height can accomplish those sweet gymnastic skills.
Anyone who’s lost precious wrist skin in the name of false grip knows how tough this position can be. If you’re looking for ways to strengthen your false grip, here are some suggestions for problem solving common issues:
For many people, lack of strength is not what hinders them from achieving a solid false grip, but rather wrist and forearm mobility. The wrist must be able to flex downward to create an angle of at least 90 degrees while maintaining locked elbows. Some basic wrist mobility and strengthening exercises can be done to correct this issue. Find the complete wrist mobility program at Awaken gymnastic bodyweight training center in Denver Colorado.
As you work on your false grip in Denver, build up slowly. Start with some simple 10 second false grip holds in the dead hang and chin hang positions with your feet on the floor. As you gain strength in this position, graduate to doing these with all your bodyweight as well as increasing the time spent in the holds. At Denver's Best Gym, Awaken, we have structured ring strength and mobility programming.
Good luck strengthening your false grip! Remember, the mobility and strength you gain from working on your false grip, although grueling, will assist you in your gymnastic bodyweight training skills at Awaken, and give you heightened use of your hands and wrists in everyday life. If you have questions on your journey, the coaches at Awaken are always there to answer your questions and assist you through the process.
The sky is the limit! Remember to push yourself, challenge yourself, and join Denver’s Best Gym to get into cool gymnastic bodyweight traiing with us.