The Thumb: A Million Years in the Making

While there is some debate about which came first for our species: walking or the dexterity of a hand with opposable thumbs. Nonetheless, the fact that we’ve got this evolutionarily advanced grasping hand isn’t a thing to shrug off, even in the gym.

While I have no intention of pedaling dogma, I’d like to call upon the fact that the thumb is an advancement to a hand without the opposable thumb. It provides superior gripping capabilities. Nonetheless, the thumb is often “discarded” by students in various exercises for short-term preferential desires, yet seemingly giving up hard earned biomechanical advantages. 

I find that it’s less common for a student to place their thumbs on the same side of the bar when pulling a barbell from the floor citing “obvious” grip disadvantages, yet the thumbless grip when performing hanging exercises still has a cult following. Shouldn’t the logic continue here to justify a wrapped thumb when hanging? 

My coaching advice is simple. Wrap your thumb around the bar (any bar). This is especially true if the implement you’re grasping allows your thumb can make contact with your index finger. After all, your ancestors’ ancestors worked hard for this capability. Plus, in a practical sense it generally is more effective, shortens the lever (created by the arm), and can even put the shoulder in a better position to do work.

3/31/22 WOD


Complete 4 rounds for quality of:

8 Alternating DB Bent Over Row (ea)
10 Overhead Landmine Reverse Lunge (ea)
40 Yard each Suitcase Carry

Then, ​​AMRAP 12

80 Double Unders
10 Deadlifts (185/135)
8 Pull Ups


Incline Bench Press

Then, complete 3 rounds for quality of:

5 1-Arm KB Push Press (ea)
10 DB Chest Supported Rear Flys
12 Alt. DB Renegade Rows

Then, alternating rounds with a partner, complete 8 rounds for time:

12 American KB Swings (53/35)
10 Wall Balls (20/14)
8 Toes-to-Bar