Sunday, April 16, 2017



After witnessing far too many slipped benches and hazardous practices in the land of the internet, as a guy with a blog and some readers, I feel it is my obligation to stop the madness and spread the message; DON’T use a suicide grip.  The suicide grip is an insanely dangerous practice, used only by reckless trainees with no concern for the safety of themselves or society in general.  Anyone telling you to use a suicide grip is NOT your friend, and those advocating such a grip are dangerous lunatics.  In all instances, never use a suicide grip; use a thumbless girp.

Image result for Trollface problem 
I hate myself so much for using this photo

Wait, what’s that; those are the same thing?  No no dear reader; you are mistaken.  You see, a tumbles grip is simply an instance where, instead of having the thumbs around the bar on the opposite side of the rest of the fingers, the thumb is on the same side of the fingers.  A trainee using a thumbless grip still has a secure grip on the bar, because they understand how to squeeze a bar with their fingers and correctly align their wrists.  A trainee using a thumbless grip is using this grip because it’s the most effective way for that particular person to train; the goal is to use it to get bigger and stronger.

A suicide grip, on the other hand, is a grip where failure is an inevitability.  As the name implies, it’s a grip that will kill the trainee.  A trainee engaging in such practices knows that they’re not going to succeed and that their efforts are going to kill them; it’s an approach of a defeatist.

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Pyramids were built by defeatist who originally set out to build giant squares

Alright, so I’ve probably belabored my point enough for you to get where I’m going with this; anyone calling a thumbless grip “suicide grip” is most likely small and weak.  I’ve literally never seen anyone big or strong refer to a thumbless grip this way, unless it was to be ironic.  Consequently, all the ridiculous fears associated with a thumbless grip ALSO tend to be associated with people who are small and weak. 

A thumb simply isn’t going to be strong enough to stop a bar loaded with heavy weight from rolling out of your hands once it’s been set in motion.  Literally ever singly slipped bench I’ve ever seen has been WITH a full grip, and in every instance, it proceeds exactly the same; the trainee is grinding a rep, the wrists inevitably tip upward as the trainee is trying to “push” their hands up, the bar starts it’s roll forward, and then the world ends.  If your thumb can stop a rolling 300+ bar, why aren’t you currently setting the world record on the rolling thunder?  What sort of weird dichotomy is this that a trainee has such a massively strong thumb that it will stop any manner of rolling barbell yet all 4 remaining fingers are so weak that they have zero chance to do the same?  Is this the byproduct of a life spent playing video games?  Massively overdeveloped thumbs and underdeveloped fingers?

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This explains the holes drilled into my palms too

Anyone choosing to use a “suicide grip” is a defeatist; plain and simple.  It’s someone approaching training with the notion that they’re inevitably going to screw up and fail.  These are the same people that waste brain cells and energy trying to figure out the most perfect way to bail on a squat, while the dumb meatheads just let the bar fall forward or backwards and get the hell out of the way.  These are the people that, before their first workout, wonder what to do when they reach a stall, versus the ironheads that figure they’ll just sling metal until they’re big and strong.  So many people are so preoccupied about what to do when they fail that they don’t spend any energy wondering what the hell they’re going to do to succeed.

Let me steal a phrase from CT Fletcher for a bit here; don’t use a suicide grip, use a HOMICIDE grip.  Kill the weights!  …ok, that was too cheesy for me.  Also, I know CT Fletcher is against a thumbless grip, so it’s already become kind of confusing.  But seriously, approach training with the notion that you’re going to SUCCEED, not fail.  Your focus on lifting needs to be geared toward doing what it takes to drive adaptation and change; not concerned about how to maintain maximal safety with every single movement you accomplish.  I ensure you, with every thumbless bench I perform, I am never even thinking about the state of my thumbs, worrying if the bar is going to roll out of my hands, concerned about what happens if I miss a rep, etc etc.  I HAVE failed a bench on several occasions, and everytime it happened, I somehow found a way to escape relatively unharmed.  And since I am so preoccupied with success, I tend to fail so RARELY that it would have been absolutely pointless to spend any time developing a gameplan for these situations.

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Granted, if I failed in this situation, I'd kind of hope the barbell would just kill me and end my shame

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Those incredibly preoccupied with failing inevitably end up failing, because THAT is what they are focused on.  Those concerned with success will ultimately succeed.  This is why so many successful trainees get away with “breaking the rules” and training in manners the internet deems unsafe; they are so driven by success that they do the things necessary to create success.  They brace themselves, set their bodies, and execute the movement with enough tension, drive and ferocity that success is the only avenue available.  Those preoccupied with failure are too busy shivering on the bench to ever get set tight, and consequently, they end up dropping a bench.

Don’t use suicide grip; use a thumbless grip.  And if you can, try to wiggle your middle finger free to flip off the people who have a problem with it.             


  1. Hey Mythical,

    Big fan. Follow your posts on reddit. You’re a strong dude with a great attitude. Good combo.

    I have just started lifting. Am 3 months along on a SS/Greyskull mashup, and generally things have been going well. I am 5’11”, 180lbs. Have never lifted seriously before, but have always been involved in sports (most recently, endurance cycling) My goal in lifting is to do 1/2/3/4 plates for OHP/bench/squat/deadlift. I have already bagged the OHP and Bench and am still linearly progressing, and am also progressing well on the deadlift (started with just 50lbs due to an injury, am at 265lbs currently, and feel like I have another 60lbs or so easy until things get hard.) However, my squat is another matter.

    For squats, I’m currently at 3x5x235, but the last reps are absolutely grinding, death struggles. I think I am going to stall very soon. Just looking in the mirror, my upper legs are pretty small, especially in the ham area. I don’t think my current musculature will get me to a 3 plate squat, and the 3x5 program doesn’t seem enough volume to enable me to lay on the necessary muscle.

    My questions:

    1. Should I go to another program? I’ve seen your reddit comments recommending 5/3/1? Same recommendation for me?
    2. Any advice or program in particular to add some mass to my legs to enable me to progress toward 3 plates in the squat?

    Any help you could lend would be much appreciated.

    1. PPP, thanks for the comments.

      Regarding your questions, I'd absolutely get in a program akin to 5/3/1 ASAP. The abbreviated training programs you've brought up are good at realizing available strength by keeping the rep range the same and just upping the weight. This works until it doesn't, which is how stalls happen. To overcome stalls, you need more volume, and this is accomplished by using a variety of rep ranges and assistance work. Getting into different rep ranges for your squat and using some other assistance work to bring up your core, quads, hamstrings and glutes will go ver far.

      Regarding question 2, 5/3/1 is solid, as is Westside Barbell for Skinny Bastards and the Juggernaut method. They'll all take you very far.

      Hope that helps!

  2. Notice you using a buffalo bar in a couple videos you've posted of you squatting. Can you explain why you use this bar, and whether you recommend it? I assume it is to take pressure off the shoulder/arm? I have been getting soreness in my left brachialis from squatting. Combination of bad technique and poor shoulder mobility I guess. It really affects my bench, especially unracking. I am stretching and trying to work it out, but would like to know if buffalo bar is an answer if all else fails. Thanks.

    1. The primary reason I use the buffalo bar is that it's a $600 barbell and I'd feel like I didn't get my money's worth if I didn't use it all the time, haha. I got it out of a crazy craigslist deal.

      That said, the primary reason I use it is because, as a strongman, I do a LOT of pressing, and it tends to beat up the shoulders pretty good. When I use a straight bar to squat on top of that, the recovery of my shoulders tends to get compromised. If I stick with the safety squat bar and buffalo bar, I can press more.

      It doesn't really affect the arm at all. For pain in the arm, I don't find it's a question of mobility; it's about torso angle. Assuming we're talking about low bar, the issue most people run into is that they try to maintain too upright a torso angle, so the bar tries to roll off the back, which results in having to "catch" the bar with the hands, which in turn transfers a LOT of the weight onto the elbow. Ideally, you should be able to unrack the bar without your hands on it; it should be completely balanced on your back, which necessitates a forward lean.

      I would try to see if you can change the angle of your lean first. I don't see the buffalo bar being the solution in this particular instance.