Suicide grip bench press

Suicide grip bench press

The suicide grip, often referred to as the thumbless grip, is a controversial method of holding the bar during bench press exercises. While some athletes use it to potentially enhance their performance, it carries significant risks that warrant careful consideration. This article delves into the mechanics of the suicide grip, compares it with the traditional grip, and discusses the associated risks and precautions necessary for those considering its use.

What is the Suicide Grip ?

The suicide grip is a way of holding the bar where the thumb is not wrapped around the bar but instead placed alongside the fingers on the same side of the bar. This grip contrasts sharply with the traditional grip used in bench pressing, where the thumb wraps around the bar, creating a secure hold. The name « suicide grip » itself hints at the inherent risks involved, as the bar can more easily slip from the lifter’s hands.

Traditional Grip vs. Suicide Grip

Traditional Grip

In the traditional grip, the lifter wraps the thumb around the bar, which helps secure the bar in the palms and reduces the risk of the bar slipping. This grip is widely recommended because it provides stability and safety during heavy lifts.

  • Pros:
    • Secure hold decreases the risk of the bar slipping.
    • Helps in maintaining a better wrist position, keeping the wrists neutral.
    • Reduces the risk of injury, making it suitable for all levels of lifters.
  • Cons:
    • Some lifters may find this grip uncomfortable, especially if they have wrist mobility issues or previous injuries.

Suicide Grip

The suicide grip involves holding the bar with the thumb placed on the same side as the fingers. Proponents of this grip argue that it allows for a more natural wrist position and can potentially increase the amount of weight lifted by reducing wrist discomfort.

  • Pros:
    • Some lifters find it more comfortable and claim it allows for a neutral wrist position.
    • May enable lifting heavier weights due to decreased wrist strain.
  • Cons:
    • Significantly increases the risk of the bar slipping and causing serious injuries.
    • Not permitted in most powerlifting competitions due to its high risk.

Risks of Using the Suicide Grip

The primary concern with the suicide grip is the increased risk of the bar slipping. Without the thumb wrapped around the bar to secure it, the bar can roll out of the hands, especially under heavy loads. This can lead to catastrophic accidents, such as the bar dropping on the chest, neck, or face.

  • Injury Potential: The lack of a secure grip can result in severe injuries, making this grip highly risky for both novice and experienced lifters.
  • Reduced Muscle Engagement: Some studies suggest that the thumbless grip might lead to less activation of certain muscle groups, like the pectorals and shoulders, potentially affecting the effectiveness of the workout.

Safety Tips for Those Considering the Suicide Grip

If you choose to use the suicide grip, it is crucial to take the following precautions to minimize risks:

  1. Always Use a Spotter: Never attempt a bench press with a suicide grip without a reliable spotter who can assist immediately if the bar begins to slip.
  2. Chalk Your Hands: Using chalk can improve your grip and reduce the likelihood of the bar slipping.
  3. Start with Lighter Weights: If you are new to this grip, begin with lighter weights to get accustomed to the feel without the significant risk.
  4. Squeeze the Bar: Gripping the bar tightly with the fingers can help mitigate some risks by ensuring the bar is as secure as possible.
  5. Monitor Wrist Position: Despite the grip style, ensure your wrists remain in a neutral position to avoid strain.

Alternatives to the Suicide Grip

Considering the risks associated with the suicide grip, lifters looking for safer alternatives can consider the following options:

  • Use Wrist Wraps: If wrist discomfort is a concern, using wrist wraps can help stabilize the wrist and allow for a secure traditional grip.
  • Adjust Grip Width: Modifying the width of the traditional grip can also help alleviate discomfort while maintaining safety.
  • Strengthen the Wrists: Incorporating wrist-strengthening exercises into your routine can improve grip strength and overall wrist health, making the traditional grip more comfortable.


While the suicide grip may offer some benefits in terms of comfort for certain lifters, the risks it poses often outweigh these advantages. The potential for serious injury is significant, and the lack of stability can compromise both safety and performance. For most lifters, sticking with the traditional grip, focusing on wrist health, and using appropriate aids like wrist wraps will provide a safer and more effective bench press experience.

Additional Resources

For those interested in exploring more about effective bench pressing techniques and improving overall upper body strength safely, consider consulting with a certified trainer or looking into additional educational resources that provide detailed analyses and guidance on proper form and technique.