Archives For John Phung

For years I've avoided the thumbless grip for any pressing movements mainly because paranoia of having the bar slip off my palms. I never tried pressing without my thumbs until recently, and I have to say, I'm a convert. It's going to be responsible for a lot of PRs.

By using a thumbless grip, I'm able to position the bar directly above the bones of the forearms. So when I press (bench or overhead), the force is applied directly to the bar (more or less) instead of going to my wrist first, then to the bar. With a thumbs around grip, it's difficult to get the bar on the heel of the palms so that it's directly above the bones of the forearms because the thumb is in the way.

Also, because the thumb is no longer an obstacle, I can externally rotate my humerus a little bit more (i.e. bring my elbows closer to my body), making the lift easier on my shoulders. For the bench press, using a thumbless grip starts to feel a little bit like the reverse grip - the positioning of the hands is angled (instead of straight), this allows for the elbows to tuck in more naturally, making for a more natural and pain free lift.

Should be interesting to see how far this one weird trick takes me.

7 Personal Records

High Bar Squat: 440 lb x 10 (10RM)

Squatted 405 lb x 10 with no belt the other day, so decided to try ~200 Kg/440 lb for a set of 10.

My lungs are burning.

Overhead Press: 275 lb x 2 (2RM)

+5 lb PR from last week! Thumbless/False/Suicide/Seppuku/"Today Is A Good Day To Die" grip is my new secret weapon.

Paused Bench Press: 370 lb x 2 (2RM)

Also got a 370 lb x 2 paused bench press PR(using a Thumbless/False/Suicide/Seppuku/"Today Is A Good Day To Die" grip).

Deadlift: 565 lb x 2 (2RM)

So my man Dan Liebster sent me a roll of John Broz "Thumb Stretch Tape" to try out (didn't buy it myself because shipping is too costly to Canada for some reason). Nearly had 605 lb x 1, but the tape on my thumbs started sliding off, probably due to thumb sweat being built up underneath during my warm up.

Took off the tape, dried my hands and re-taped my thumbs. Got a +15 lb 2RM PR.

Paused Bench Press: 385 lb x 1 (1RM)

+5 lb 1RM, and 5 lb away from my touch-and-go 1RM.

Thumbless grip is my new favorite "one weird trick".

Also nearly had a 280 lb x 2 OHP, but couldn't maintain the right balance for the 2nd rep.

Paused Front Squat (No Belt): 385 lb x 2 (2RM)

Couldn't get the 3rd rep, but 2 is still a PR.

Attempted 455 lb x 2 before this but missed the 2nd rep. May have been too big of a jump from my current 2RM (440 lb). Damn you tempting bar aesthetics.

Overhead Press: 280 lb x 2 (2RM)

This is the 3rd 2RM PR this week (270x2 last week, 275x2 on Tuesday, and 280x2 today), mainly because of using a thumbless grip I think. Pretty sure I won't be able to milk out any more 2RM's though, so going to try 3 rep maxes (or something else) next week.

300 lb OHP is still eluding me though. One day...

Stuff You Should Check Out

Singapore Powerlifting Alliance interviews Ed Coan in Sydney, Australia, at the recent GPA Worlds 2014

It's only 6 minutes long (including Ed's 300 Kg squat), but packed with nuggets of gold-pressed latinum.

Overhead Press

  • 45 x 10
  • 100 x 5
  • 140 x 3
  • 190 x 2
  • 230 x 1
  • 250 x 1
  • 300 x 0
  • 280 x 2 * PR!
    • +5 lb 2RM from 4 days ago!

Paused Bench Press

  • 300 x 1
    • I was going to go for a 3RM, but my shoulders and triceps ache a lot more than normal, so I'm going to stop the training session now. OHP 2RM at 280 lb is good enough for today.

Paused Front Squat

  • 135 x 8
  • 225 x 3
  • 315 x 2

Front Squat

  • 365 x 1
  • 405 x 1
  • 455 x 1
    • Wanted 2

Paused Front Squat (No Belt)

  • 385 x 2 * PR!
    • 2RM!
    • Want for 3 but no gas.

Overhead Press

  • 45 x 10
  • 100 x 5
  • 140 x 3
  • 190 x 2
  • 230 x 1
  • 255 x 1
  • 300 x 0
  • 280 x 1,1
    • Wanted 2, lost balance slightly on the 2nd rep of both sets. I feel 280 lb x 2 is within my grasp...SOON

Paused Bench Press

  • 280 x 1
  • 330 x 1
  • 385 x 1 * PR!
    • +5 lb 1RM
    • Extra controlled descent because I'm using a thumbless grip and don't want to lose control of the bar. Felt easy coming up. Was contemplating another repetition, but I'll save that for another day.

High Pull

Decided to try out high pulls today instead of clean & press. Mainly because I overhead pressed yesterday, and I'll likely do it again tomorrow.

This video was help to help me with the technique.

  • 45 x 10
  • 100 x 5
  • 140 x 3
  • 190 x 2
  • 230 x 2
  • 280 x 1


  • 320 x 2
  • 410 x 1
  • 500 x 1
  • 605 x 0,0
    • Nearly had it the first time, but the tape starting slipping off my thumb. Dammit.
  • 565 x 2 * PR!
    • +15 lb 2RM