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November 24, 2021 9 min read

The barbell bench press, a popular upper-body workout for both men and women, allows you to position your hands slightly wider than your shoulders or a little less than shoulder-width distance apart but the real question at the end of the day is what types of grips you can use and what are their advantages and disadvantages.

When it comes to barbell workouts, the bench press reigns supreme. There isn't anything else that gauges a man's sheer power like it. It's primordial to press a weight. Either the load transfers successfully or it does not. So there's no need to strap oneself into a sophisticated piece of equipment or connect HR monitors. Each culture has its own history of strongman training, and you can guarantee there's a press in there somewhere.

The bench press is now used as a flexible training exercise. It's an excellent tool for developing hypertrophy in the chest when performed at more repetitions with a lower weight. However, if you reduce the reps and increase the weight, you'll have a deadly power exercise. There's a reason why powerlifters compete in bench press rather than ab roller.

1. Wide Grip

The wide grip is the most movement-efficient Bench Press grip to employ due to its  bar path  requiring the least amount of bar movement to complete a rep. Although this may seem appealing to anybody trying to press the maximum weight, the grip may significantly restrict bar speed.

Another reason the broad grasp may not transfer well to many athletic motions is a limited range of motion and the broad grasp may not transfer well to sports competition. A wide grip bench press is usually defined as 1.5-2x the breadth of your shoulders. This is an excellent combo for a powerful bench press when coupled with correctly positioned shoulder blades.

When Is This Grip Appropriate?

If you discover that your weakest part of the range is just as the bar falls off your chest, this grip may be utilized as an aid exercise to improve your bench press overall.

Some great powerlifters restrict their range of motion as much as possible so they utilize a wide grip bench press. Therefore, the less range of motion the barbell requires, the less actual work must be done with the same weight.

2. Suicide Grip

This grip may help you tuck your elbows further on the bench press, allowing you to get more power from your triceps. A thumbless grip also pushes you to maintain the barbell stacked over your forearm, which keeps your wrist in a healthier posture.

While many people are torn on whether to use this grip or not, we don't think anybody should ever  use the suicide grip. While this grip offers benefits, these benefits may be replicated with a narrow grip bench press variant which forces you to use your triceps and tuck your elbows. Furthermore, since you won't be able to completely grasp the bar as firmly as you can - a prerequisite to a good bench press – the thumbless grip will make the weight on the bar seem heavier.

The risk of the barbell sliding out of your hands and landing on you (even with a spotter) significantly exceeds the possible advantages, mainly because those benefits can be replicated with other bench press grips.

3. Reverse Grip

One of the most severe issues with the reverse grip is safety. It necessitates gripping the bar in a somewhat hazardous posture, which makes the bar prone to sliding from your hands. Many lifters roll their hands back to prevent this, placing a lot of strain on their wrists. If you wish to try the reverse grip, do so only after you've mastered the conventional grip Bench Press.

What is the Purpose of This Grip?

The reverse grip bench press is great for engaging various muscles like the biceps, upper chest, and forearms than a  conventional bench press does.

Furthermore, since this variant differs so much from a standard bench press, it may be utilized to work around an injury and prioritize the forearms, biceps, shoulders, and upper pecs more than a standard bench press.

The best way to utilize the reverse grip bench press is by altering your hand position so that your knuckles can point towards your toes.

Also, make sure you have an experienced spotter with you since unracking the bar, finishing reps, and reracking the bar will all seem extremely alien if this is your first time trying out this type of grip.

When Is This Grip Appropriate?

Your overall objectives will strongly influence the use of this grip in the gym. If you're a bodybuilder or an athlete, this grip may be more helpful as a usual component of your training since it activates the upper chest and biceps brachii more.

4. Close Grip

The closer your hands are together, the farther the bar must be moved to lock it out and finish a rep. This means you're unlikely to establish any personal records with a tight grip, but a slew of other advantages compensates for it. According to research, the tight grip activates the triceps brachii, also known as the "Tris."

This implies the tight grip may assist you in achieving the horseshoe triceps you've always desired. Furthermore, a tight grasp has been found to increase the top portion of the pectoralis major, which is also known as the clavicular head. Finally, a tight grasp puts less strain on the shoulders than a broad hold, which may make it safer.

When Is This Grip Appropriate?

In terms of athletic performance, the tight grasp may be the best grip. This is because it has the most extensive range of motion and focuses on pushing from a narrow hand posture, which is frequent in many sports. For example, consider how an offensive lineman throws a punch at a defender. Ideally, his hands should be close together, with his elbows tucked under.

The tight grip bench press is excellent for developing lockout strength, strengthening your triceps, minimizing elbow flare and shoulder tension, and engaging your upper chest. A close grip bench press is defined as having your hands shoulder-width apart or just within.

Another method is to measure 5 finger lengths within your standard bench press grip. If you usually hold the bar in a wide position then a narrow grip bench press will seem more like a medium grip bench press.

This grip is an excellent option if you struggle with the lockout part of your bench press, as well as if you have longer arms. Both of these will indicate that you need greater tricep strength, where the tight grip bench press excels.

What Type of Bench Press Grip Should You Use?

  • To increase the size of your upper chest, use a reverse grip or a neutral grip.
  • To improve your lockout/tricep strength, use a reverse grip or a neutral grip.
  • A comprehensive grasp is ideal for developing your pectoralis major.
  • A wide grip is used to develop the strength of the chest.
  • Powerlifting competitors should use a broad grip.
  • When coping with a shoulder injury or discomfort, use a neutral grip.
  • When coping with a wrist injury or discomfort, use a neutral grip.
  • If a limited grasp is unpleasant for tricep growth, choose a medium or reverse grip.
  • Reverse grip, medium grip, or narrow grip for shoulder development

What Is The Common Bench Press Setup?

  1. Setup - With your eyes beneath the bar, carefully lay down and squeeze your shoulder blades then lift your chest. Simply lay low on the ground.
  2. Take hold of the bar - First, place your pinky on the bar's Knurl (ring) markings. Then, with straight wrists and a complete grasp, hold the bar at the base of your palm.
  3. Unrack - Breathe in and out then straighten your arms upon unracking the bar. With your elbows locked, bring the bar over your shoulders.
  4. Reduce the bar - Tuck your elbows 75° and level it to your mid-chest. Maintain a vertical position with your forearms. At the bottom, hold your breath.
  5. Press - From your mid-chest to your shoulders, press the bar. Maintain your buttocks on the bench. At the top, lock your elbows. Breathe.

The exercise should be done with a back arch. This will help in protecting your shoulders while allowing your upper back muscles to bring your shoulders down and into a secure, stable posture. This will also give you a boost to lift heavier weights.

Throughout the action, keep your feet level on the floor and your core supported. Then, push up from your chest and repeat for the number of repetitions required.

Common Errors

The tight grip bench press can totally mix up your upper body workout, but take note of the few typical errors to avoid when doing the exercise.

1. Not using a spotter or a  Smith Machine

For safety precautions and if you are still new to this exercise or weightlifting then it is highly advised that you ask someone to be your spotter or smith machine to ensure safety. However, when you're familiar with the exercise and a spotter isn't present, keep the weight levels light and focus on excellent form and technique.

2. Bouncing The Bar Off Your Sternum

The effort to push extremely heavyweight up with impetus is made by bouncing the bar off the chest. This raises the danger of sternum damage and reduces the efficacy of the workout. To utilize adequate weight resistance from start to finish, the close grip should be pressed, performed slowly, and with control. This guarantees correct form and triceps muscle activation.

3. Using the Wrong Grip

Throughout the exercise, maintain an average hold with your thumb and fingers wrapped around the bar. Using a fake grip increases the chances of losing the bar and injuring yourself (fingers and thumb on the same side of the bar).

4. Hips Off the Bench

Maintain correct body posture on the bench for safe and efficient movement execution. For example, lifting the hips off the bench during a press may indicate that the weight is too heavy. Instead, reduce your weight as required and focus on excellent body mechanics.

5. Breathing Technique Errors

Proper breathing is essential for successful weight lifting. During the most challenging exercise portion, many individuals hold their breath, producing internal body pressure. During the workout, stay in touch with your body and your breathing. Inhale gently as you lower the bar to your chest and exhale as you push back up to the starting position.

Variations and Modifications

To suit your fitness level, the tight grip bench press may be done in a number of ways. Please bear in mind that a spotter or smith machine is always advised for this exercise's safety.

If you're new to this, you can actually make the following changes to tighten your grip bench press.

a Man Doing EZ Bar bench press in a gym

  • If holding the barbell causes wrist pain, substitute an EZ Bar.
  • Using a dumbbell as an alternative to the barbell is okay but your hands should be facing each other while holding the weights.
  • As you develop strength and are ready for a new challenge, increase the weight resistance. Lifting weights should be suitable to your fitness level for optimal workout execution and safety.
  • Increase the number of reps each session and push the tight grip bench press to muscle failure.

Some advanced variants of this exercise are the following:

  • Barbell bench press
  • Bodyweight dips
  • Push-ups

Precautions and Safety

Weight training necessitates a focus on body posture, form, and function. Any resistance workout performed incorrectly may put you in danger of harm.

It is advised that you use a spotter or smith machine for this workout:

  • To minimize the risk of injury and efficiently stimulate the triceps muscles, use appropriate hand placement (around shoulder width) on the bar.
  • Maintain correct form and technique by keeping your elbows close to your body throughout the action.
  • To minimize the danger of injury, prevent bouncing the bar off your chest. Instead, from start to end, use a calm and controlled movement.
  • Use adequate weight resistance for your fitness level while doing the workout. Lifting too heavy raises your chance of injury and prevents you from completing the exercise in proper form.
  • Throughout the exercise, keep your hips on the bench.
  • To prevent losing the bar throughout the exercise, use a complete standard grip (thumb and fingers wrapped around the bar).
  • If you feel any pain in your wrists or shoulders, stop doing the exercise.

Final Thoughts

You'll be able to obtain four chest attacking methods instead of just one if you master these key grip variants. In addition, changing your approach in this manner can help improve regions that aren't typically given much attention with the standard grip.

The bench press has numerous variations, each of which has a place in your training program based on the muscles you want to develop and the portion of your flexion and extension that is the weakest. Knowing how to utilize each grip properly and the advantages and downsides of each variant are critical to ensuring that you get the most out of each of these workouts. And while we are on the topic of getting the most out of your workouts, we suggest stacking up on some solid  muscle building stacks to take you workout to the next level.