Wondering how wide your grip should be, every time you climb under the bar? Choose a grip that suits your goals with this simple guide.
You may have never really thought about how far apart your arms are on the bench press , but simply moving them up the bar towards the center or towards the pancakes can be amazing. Thus, it is possible to redirect the training stimuli from the upper to the lower or from the inner to the outer parts of the pectoral muscles. The grip width even affects the range of motion and how much weight you can lift.
The distance between the arms within 25-30 cm is suitable for bench press with a narrow grip during arm training. It perfectly loads the triceps, and at the same time the internal fibers of the pectoral muscles. The forearms in this position are not strictly perpendicular to the floor; they form a slightly sharp angle (less than 90 degrees). For most people, this grip corresponds to a distance that is slightly less than shoulder width.
When you place your hands as close to the pancakes as possible, the angle of the forearms becomes obtuse, and they are again not perpendicular to the floor. The emphasis is shifting to the pectoral muscles, especially their outer sections: the load on the shoulders increases. In this position, the triceps do much less work, but you can lift more weight since you load your chest more actively and shorten the trajectory of the barbell. However, many people notice that this increase in strength has to pay off with pain in the shoulders.
The standard choice for the bench press is an intermediate position between a narrow and wide grip. When the bar is at its lowest point, the forearms are nearly perpendicular to the floor. For most athletes, this is the most comfortable width. And the best grip for general development of the pectoral muscles is one where you can train comfortably day in and day out, right?
The fourth option is the reverse grip of the bar. For such a grip to work, the forearms should be located strictly perpendicular to the floor, and the elbows should be as close to the sides as possible. This modification actively recruits the triceps but also loads the upper bundles of the pectoral muscles.
Which grip should I use?
There is a time and place for each option, and it depends on your goals. Do not think that only the standard grip is suitable for the main sets, and the rest are suitable only as an addition. Reverse or narrow grip can be used for one or two cycles. For example, you can use grip variations in your workouts:
- For triceps: narrow or reverse grip
- Upper Chest: Reverse Grip
- For the lower chest: narrow grip
- For maximum weight work: wide grip
- For the outer chest: wide grip
- Shoulder-friendly: standard or narrow grip