I’ve been working out for over 15 years now and the best advice I’ve ever gotten came from a Christmas present my brother-in-law gave me. My brother-in-law was a cadet at the Naval Academy when he came across a Navy Seal Training Book. Really it was a guide on how to train to “possibly” pass boot camp. In this book there were a number of useful tips on how to build endurance + strength, but what was most useful were the tips and nuances of Seal Training…and it just so happened that one of the tips changed the way I’ll work out for the rest of my life.
This tip is nothing amazing, but the effect is nothing short of amazing. Now, what I find mind-blowing is that not even Tony Horton, who, if you ask me, is the current Guru of exercise, doesn’t even mention this extraordinary tip in any of his videos…nor does he use it!
So what is it?
What could possibly be so beneficial and helpful to a workout that it changed the way I’ve worked out since the day I learned it?
It’s simply a grip – the right grip to use while doing a pull-up.
It is simple really…and it all comes down to your thumb…or where you put your thumb to be more exact. The thumb, your opposable appendage that sets you apart from most animals, is by far your best asset when doing a pull-up.
So, what’s this magical grip?
Simply put your thumb next to your index finger – that’s it!
Do not grip the pull-up bar like you’re gripping a baseball bat, a sword, a broom, or any other stick you’re accustomed to holding by wrapping your thumb around it. Instead of wrapping your thumb around the bar so that it opposes your index finger, place your thumb on the same side as all your other fingers.
So, the thumb lines up right next to the index finger and now becomes one more limb to hang from…saving much needed energy in your forearms. This is a huge deal, especially if you’re just starting to workout or do pull-ups.
For a lot of people just entering the pull-up game, their forearms will tire out before their back or biceps. But not with this grip. Why?
Well, you go from gripping the bar to hanging from the bar and your thumb, your strongest finger, is now in the game. This simple change in grip relieves an enormous amount of strain from your forearms which are used when clutching the fist…and that’s exactly what you’re doing when you grip the bar with your thumb wrapping around it, clenching your fist.
Go ahead, make a fist and squeeze hard….feel that in your forearms right?
Now, grip one of your hands with your other hand using the new grip – with your thumb on the same side as your index finger. Now pull both hands apart….you should be able to actually feel your thumb engaged.
Notice how you feel it more in your arms than forearm?
You’re not wasting all that forearm strength clenching the bar…instead you’re hanging from the bar…getting no forearm fatigue…and doing MORE PULL-UPS!