Use a Thumbless Grip To Avoid Wrist Pain During Pull-ups

One of the main reasons why bodybuilders experience persistent and often chronic wrist and elbow pain during pull-ups is an improper alignment of the joints. When your elbow, wrist, and shoulders are not in an optimal position to take the load during the exercise, the connective tissues are irritated.

One of the ways to fix that would be to do ring pull-ups instead of the regular straight bar version. However, if you don’t have access to rings, you can try another technique – the thumbless grip.

What is a thumbless grip?

The thumbless grip requires you to put your thumb on the side of the fingers instead of against them. This may seem like a minor tweak, but it can effectively reduce the stress on the wrist during pull-ups. In addition, a proper wrist alignment will also have a positive effect on the position of your elbows and shoulders.


If you grab the bar with the thumb in an opposing position, you will notice that your wrists sort of tilt to one side during the pull-up. This creates an improper joint alignment that can result in future discomfort and pain.

Thumbless grip demonstrated by Franco Columbo

The thumbless grip demonstrated by Franco Columbo

Note: NEVER use the thumbless grip for exercises like the bench press. It’s very dangerous. One wrong movement can kill you.

2 comments

  1. Victor

    Should I use the thumbless grip for “neutral chin-up” too (the exercise that the palms are facing each other)?

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