Before we answer the question of ‘Why hook grip tape?’ we first need to answer the question ‘What is a hook grip?’
Most people, when they take up barbell weight lifting grab the bar by wrapping their palms and fingers around the bar and then placing the thumb on top of the fingers. This is the conventional grip that is relatively comfortable and comes to us naturally. The problem, however, with this grip is that it is relatively weak especially as the weight lifter progresses to more aggressive bar acceleration and as the weights approach the lifter’s one rep maximum.
Competitive and experienced weight lifters will replace the conventional grip with the hook grip. In the hook grip, the palm grabs the bar as in the conventional grip but the thumb is wrapped under the index and middle fingers (see the picture immediately below).
By folding the thumb under the index and middle finger a much stronger grip is achieved which becomes critically important as bar speed and weights increase with experience and practice.
Hook grip tape is intended to protect the thumb from slipping, blisters and callouses as it is receiving the lion’s share of the friction during the dynamic movement of the bar. Even with lighter weights and higher repetitions, the thumb is most exposed to the knurling of the bar and requires protection. This is the reason why every competitor weightlifter uses thumb tape when they perform their lifts.
Importantly, the hook grip tape is also a general purpose tape that can be used to protect and reinforce the wrist, the palm or other fingers as they are exposed to the trauma that inevitably accompanies resistance training.