If you have been training for any length of time, you have probably heard more than one gym discussion about upsides and downsides of using a “thumbless” grip. The thumbless grip has been around since the invention of the
Regular grip versus thumbless grip
A conventional or “regular” grip involves wrapping your fingers and thumbs around the bar and squeezing it.
By contrast, in a thumbless grip, also known as a “false” or “suicide” grip, the thumb is held under or outside of the bar rather than around the bar. There is no squeezing involved. This allows you to place the bar lower in your hand and more directly over the forearm bones.
Benefits of thumbless grip
Despite many negative opinions about a suicide grip, there are still many upsides why gym-goers prefer to use it in some popular exercises.
Suicide grip bench press
Using a suicide grip when bench pressing is controversial.
On the plus side, using the suicide grip keeps the barbell closer to the heel of your palms and in line with your wrists and forearms for more direct pushing power engaging the triceps. Your elbows will naturally pull in, allowing for more direct tricep involvement, increasing your benching power. Your lats will also assist more at the bottom of the lift.
Some experts argue that a suicide grip bench press helps to reduce shoulder and triceps pain.
Thumbless grip squats
First for information about the benefits of using a thumbless grip while squatting, I read Mark Rippetoe’s book “Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training”. In this book, he deeply analyzed all aspects of proper squatting technique.
Here, the idea is to go under the bar, use a thumbless grip, keep your wrists straight, and move your elbows back.
This gripping technique takes the pressure off your elbows and wrists and allows more control of the bar. However, I should admit that you need to have good mobility to set it up. It’s won’t be easy to keep your wrist straight while squatting. That’s why at the beginning it might feel uncomfortable.
Pull ups and lat pulldown
Either novice or seasoned bodybuilders can use a thumbless grip while performing two very popular back exercises: pull ups and lat pulldowns.
It allows lessening the load on the forearm muscles and better targeting of the bigger back muscles – latissimus dorsi (lats). Many top bodybuilders do both exercises using this gripping technique. So if your lats won’t grow, try to incorporate the thumbless grip in your back workout. After a while, you can see whether it helped you.