Bench Press “Suicide Grip” – Thumbless Grip VS. Regular Grip


How do you grip the barbell
when doing the bench press ?

Do you use a Regular Grip
OR a False Grip (aka: the “Suicide Grip”) ?

In this blog post we’re going to cover the pros and cons of both the regular thumb grip and the false thumbless grip.
(There is a reason why they call it the “Suicide Grip” bench press.).

Now if you have never heard of this before, a false grip is simply keeping your thumb on the same side of the bar as your fingers. Whereas a regular grip is wrapping your thumb around the barbell.

False Grip Bench Press

Now while this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal and you maybe thinking:

“Who cares how you grip the bar?
Just use what ever grip feels the most comfortable…”
.

It actually is a very big deal and the difference could have some life altering consequences. The main problem with using a thumbless grip is that if the bar starts to roll (and it doesn’t have to roll much) then you’ll end up dropping a loaded barbell on your chest.

The worst case scenario is that it could be fatal (hence the name “suicide grip”), the best case scenario is you’ll end up breaking some ribs (i.e. snapping your shit up), neither one sounds very appealing to me so I’ll just stick to a regular grip bench press – thank you very much.


Click PLAY To Find Out Why You Should NEVER Use A Suicide Grip…

Note: if you can’t watch the embedded video clip above,
you can watch it right on my YouTube Channel by Clicking Here

In my opinion using a false grip (aka suicide grip) is just a bench press accident waiting to happen. Now some people will say that the benefits of using a false grip bench press is that it doesn’t place as much stain on the shoulder tendons and that it allows you to press more with your triceps.

Maybe this is the case for some people. And if you are one of those people who insist on benching with a thumbless grip, false grip, suicide grip or what ever else you want to call it, then please do so using the power rack or the smith machine with the safety pins set at chest height. This way if something goes wrong and the bar starts to roll. At least then the rack will absorb the impact and not your rib cage. suicide grip bench

But in my humble opinion it’s not worth it, just be smart, wrap your thumbs around the damn bar and and bench properly. It could save your life.

Note:
If you know of a someone who uses a thumbless grip when bench pressing,
please share this blog post with them. It could save them from serious injury.






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About The Author

leehayward

Lee Hayward is a competitive bodybuilder and muscle building coach who has been online helping people build muscle, lose bodyfat, and get in shape since 1999. Lee was selected as one of the Top Fitness Trainers Online through YouTube's Next Trainer Program and his work has been featured in several international magazines such as: FLEX, Muscle Insider, Muscle Mag International, Testosterone, Ironmag, and Forbes.

28 Comments

  • John Cranwell

    Reply Reply

    THANX LEE POINT TAKE GOSHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I WONT USE THE SUICIDE GRIP AGAIN INSTEAD I WILL USE THE LIVING GRIP…LOL COS THIS 73 YRS YOUNG GUY WANTS A LONGGGGGGGGGGGGGG & HEALTHYYYYYYYYYYYYY LIFE GOD BLESS YOU BOTH

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  • David Cambre

    Reply Reply

    Great advice! the best that I have heard over and over but its still the best advice.
    Thanks and the heavy bench day is tomorrow with a THUMB GRIP for sure

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Gary Gray

    Reply Reply

    For the past 1-1/2 years I have been seriously training “Grip Strength” – also using 2″ or 2-1/2″ thick bars, and “Fat Gripz for D.B. I now always bench with a 2″ bar (Regular Grip) and it feels much more comfortable to hold in my hands than the 1″ bar – and it does not affect the weight lifted on the bar. I train alone in my Basement Gym and always bench inside the Power Rack.

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  • Gary Gray,

    As long as you bench in the rack with the pins set at chest height you should be alright. If worse comes to worse and the bar rolls, at least the rack will catch the bar and not your rig cage.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • WT

    Reply Reply

    Lee, I have a question about protein.
    You posted a piece back around August about whey protein being best used only post-workout due to the spiking of the insulin. Does the same go for the soy proteins? Such as Soy Isolate?
    thanks!
    WT

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Sam

    Reply Reply

    Hey Lee I have a question for you:
    Is a person with a muscular chest stronger than one with muscular shoulders?

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Hey Lee I was totally expecting something completely different with this article, I thought you were going to go on about some benefits of the suicide grip.. ahah boy was I wrong. Nice article – straight to the point and makes a lot of sense. I have benched both ways but never saw any benefit to the suicide grip myself.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Aspen Home Rentals

    Reply Reply

    Hi,
    this is wonderful article and thanks for explaining about regular grip and false grip, its a very helpful article for the people doing such exercise.

    thank you.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • John Willaford

    Reply Reply

    I can also say that’s probably why I eventually blew out my left shoulder. My rotator cuffs were weaker because I always used the false grip. I never let go, but when my left shoulder blew out, i knew it was bad. Had I used a real grip, i wouldn’t have been up to 475lb but i probably would have developed my cuffs better.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • ATUL

    Reply Reply

    Hey lee i work 3 or 4 times a week and am only taking whey protien as supplement. I weight 71 kgs. do you think that i should take amino acids as well as creatine along with that. and if i take 5 mg of creatine everyday will it harm me, should i take it on days when i dont work out. and is there any time frame for you to take creatine and ammino acids or you can take them everyday as long as you hit the gym as i do 3 to 4 days a week.
    thanks

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Sam

    Reply Reply

    Thanks for your advice Lee…. this is indeed dangerous and I am using suicide grip until yesterday. After watching this video I am gonna use regular grip. Thanks for all your great videos. …

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Madana

    Reply Reply

    leehayward,

    Dear Mr.Lee, I have seen the video of false grip bench press. certainly it’s a ‘suicide grip’
    Thanks for your valuable information.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Ren

    Reply Reply

    I use the thumbless grip cuz it feels south more comfortable. I switch to a regular grip when I start to add weight. For some reason the weight seems so much lighter using the thumbless grip but I’m sure it’s just my imagination. Look up Stafon Johnson who played with the USC Trojans. He was using a thumbless grip and almost killed himself.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Bob

    Reply Reply

    I too have sometimes used the suicide grip. But I won’t be going forward. I hope those guys in the videos were OK in the end. The last clip was nasty. Even the spotters could not help. Could you imagine losing your grip at the top of a free weight shoulder press…?

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  • Chad

    Reply Reply

    I guess that I will switch to the “living” grip. My trainer, a few years ago, got me started on the thumbless grip and it does feel much better. However, I also do NOT ever bench press with a Free Bar. I hate how it feels. I use Dumbbells towards the end of my workout (lighter weight) and stick to Hammer and Cable for the heavier sets. Regardless, you make a great point.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Thank you for the advice…

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • ATUL:
    Hey lee i work 3 or 4 times a week and am only taking whey protien as supplement. I weight 71 kgs. do you think that i should take amino acids as well as creatine along with that. and if i take 5 mg of creatine everyday will it harm me, should i take it on days when i dont work out. and is there any time frame for you to take creatine and ammino acids or you can take them everyday as long as you hit the gym as i do 3 to 4 days a week.
    thanks

    I’ve got a blog post about creatine that you should read at:
    https://www.leehayward.com/blog/creatine-supplement-information

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Sam:
    Hey Lee I have a question for you:
    Is a person with a muscular chest stronger than one with muscular shoulders?

    That’s going to vary from person to person, if you chest is more muscular than you’ll probably be stronger with chest exercises. If your shoulders are more muscular than you’ll probably be stronger with shoulder exercises.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • WT:
    Lee, I have a question about protein.
    You posted a piece back around August about whey protein being best used only post-workout due to the spiking of the insulin.Does the same go for the soy proteins? Such as Soy Isolate?
    thanks!
    WT

    Yes, all fast digesting proteins can spike insulin levels to some degree.
    I’ve got a blog post about soy protein that you should read at:
    https://www.leehayward.com/blog/is-soy-protein-good-or-bad/

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • john

    Reply Reply

    False grip with wrist wraps…awesome.12 years no injury.

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  • Used to use thumb less for many years and never had a problem. I followed two rules. Don’t use thumb less when power lifting or maxing out, and practice it enough till it becomes natural. I

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  • nads

    Reply Reply

    This was a stupid post, anyone who suggests a Smith machine for anything other than a coat rack is sucking the life out of weightlifting. This isn’t even a fitness article. “Please disregard shoulder health and obey my cult’s wishes by following everything I do exactly as I do it.” Suck it Gayward. If this article were intended for any purpose other than to try to stir up controversy then it would have stated that in order to preserve shoulder health, you should engage your lats and externally rotate your shoulders as if you were attempting to snap the barbell in half.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • nads:
    This was a stupid post, anyone who suggests a Smith machine for anything other than a coat rack is sucking the life out of weightlifting. This isn’t even a fitness article. “Please disregard shoulder health and obey my cult’s wishes by following everything I do exactly as I do it.” Suck it Gayward. If this article were intended for any purpose other than to try to stir up controversy then it would have stated that in order to preserve shoulder health, you should engage your lats and externally rotate your shoulders as if you were attempting to snap the barbell in half.

    You kinda missed the whole point of the blog post. The message here was to avoid using a thumbless grip for your bench presses and instead use a proper thumb grip when gripping the barbell. However, if someone insists on using a thumbless grip, they should at least do their bench presses in the power rack, or even a smith machine, with the safety pins set at chest height to catch the barbell in case it rolls.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • jesse

    Reply Reply

    1 idiot out of 100,000 who use suicide grip get hurt.
    I’ve been powerlifting six years suicide no problems. I know lots of dudes in their 40s who have always benched suicide. Never met anyone who had the bar fall on them.

    Not fair to talk shit about it when its just the morons getting hurt. Too many of them anyways, we should be promoting it so more hurt themselves and stop wasting space in the gym like little flies buzzing around.

    I just skimmed the article, but didn’t see any info contrasting benefits of each; just that its bad to suicide.

    Then again, if someone wanted bench advice they’d get more reading Spoto, or Kennelly’s articles.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Leonardo

    Reply Reply

    Article is extremely narrow minded & biased. I’ve been using suicide grip for 10 yrs without incident. I’ve rep’d out 225 with it & maxed out at 315. Unlike most guys I have tiny ass girl hands that can barely wrap around the bar in the first place. And yes some ex gf have had bigger hands than me. I’ve injured my wrists lifting with a full grip only to transition to suicide with zero injuries. As long as u are in control of the weight, u have nothing to fear. Even just lifting the bar can injure u if ur not focused. I’ve watched dozens & even seen my buddy’s wipeout on thier crotch rockets but u think that deters me from still riding hard? Never. Respect & focus on what ever it is ur doing & u will help prevent any accidents.

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  • Goat

    Reply Reply

    Thumbless grip is a placebo for the mentally weak. Like your pectorals are going to notice the difference. As for preventing injury – thumbless grip paranoia of dropping the bar during bench presses would cause you to bend your wrists backwards and strain those – there’s also the DROPPING THE BAR ON YOUR NECK injury. If you have too much triceps strain during BP your grip isn’t wide enough. Idiots doing this gimmick in a public gym have no sympathy from me if another user accidentally walks into the bar and knocks it out of their hands and onto their face.
    The only weird grip I use and recommend, for injured people, is curling without gripping with the little and ring fingers – for people with medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow). My common flexor tendon is badly torn at the medial epicondyle from chin ups (but, I can still do pull ups…which is the knuckles facing you grip, FYI, if you thought they were the same).

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  • Goat

    Reply Reply

    WT,

    Whey is overrated, it’s too quickly digested. Casein is what people need. I use ‘Milk Protein Smooth’ (from MyProtein) which is 20% whey and 80% casein – I mix about 33g of this with semi skimmed milk 3x a day (100g, 80% of which is protein containing all the essential amino acids). The whey is quickly used leaving the casein to be slowly digested over the next 4-6hrs (you never get hungry and it gives you a constant supply of protein). As an added bonus it tastes like cream and causes your poos to exit your anus really clean – rarely needing to wipe! No stomach upset either!
    …*Casein may proliferate cancer, LOL, according to Google’s auto-complete.

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  • Sam

    Reply Reply

    Hey Lee,
    Thanks and well done for this info. Sometimes the obvious doesn’t connect: I think this information is very important especially to those new and intermediate to weight training.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

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