It’s widely known that changing your grip on a bar changes the area you target with the exercise. When you put your hand wider than your shoulders while doing the bench press, you’re targeting a completely different area of your pecs than if you were to train with a shoulder width grip, or one narrower than your shoulders. Your grip is also a determining factor in your range of motion and the amount of weight you can press.
If your hands are 10-12 inches apart, this is the width you would use if you wanted to do a close-grip bench press when training your arms. This grip affects your triceps but also hits your inner pecs, allowing you to train specific areas of your chest that are less developed than others. Your forearms won’t be perpendicular to the ground, but they’ll be under an acute angle, just under 90 degrees. Most people achieve this angle when they take a grip just inside of their shoulder width.
If your hands are closer to the weight plates than they are to each other, your forearms are at an obtuse angle, which means bigger than 90 degrees, which is perpendicular to the floor. This basically means that your hands are wider than your shoulder width, and this type of grip puts more emphasis on the outer pectoral part of your chest, and a lot of the weight goes on your shoulders too. Your triceps isn’t activated like with the close grip, but you can lift more since your chest is fully engaged in the lift, as well as your shoulders. Be careful though, this type of grip can lead to shoulder pain in the long run!
Another option to look at is the golden middle – the grip between the wide and close grip – a medium one. Your forearms would be perpendicular to the floor when it’s in the bottom position, and most lifters find this a comfortable grip. If you want to develop your pecs, you’ll need to find a grip that you can do over and over again, and that’s the one that will make you the most comfortable. This is why most people use this grip on a daily basis.
Finally, you have a choice to use a reverse grip when doing bench presses. Your forearms should be as close to perpendicular as possible, and your elbows have to be packed to your sides as much as possible. This type of grip activates your triceps more than any other grip, but it also works on your upper pecs!
Every one of these variations has their own use, and you should utilize each one for a specific goal. Using a normal grip all the time and the others as accessories won’t work for everything, so make sure to diversify your bench press grips whenever you can, and of course, whenever you need to. Here’s what each of them does:
- FOR THE TRICEPS: close grip or reverse grip.
- FOR THE UPPER CHEST: reverse grip.
- FOR THE INNER CHEST: close grip.
- FOR MAXIMUM WEIGHT: wide grip.
- FOR THE OUTER CHEST: wide grip.
- FOR KEEPING YOUR SHOULDERS HEALTHY: normal grip or close grip.