In order to enhance strength and performance on the bench press, choosing a grip is critical. The muscles used, the distance the barbell must travel from start to finish, and the bar route will all be affected by the grip you choose.
You’ve probably noticed a lot of powerlifters using a wide grip for bench press and thought if it’s something you should try.
A wide grip bench press is defined as a grip that is 1.5-2X the breadth of your shoulder blades. The wide grip bench press lets you to recruit the pec muscles to their full potential, which are responsible for delivering the most force off the chest.
A wide grip bench press also limits the range of motion of the activity, lowering the amount of effort required to press the barbell.
These appear to be all favorable effects when utilizing a wide grip bench press at first glance. However, there are other personal aspects to consider before deciding whether or not a wide grip bench press is right for you. Let’s continue the conversation!
The muscles worked
The chest (pectorals) is the primary muscle targeted by the bench press. It targets the pectoralis major, the largest muscle in the chest, and challenges it to the point where it’s frequently the muscle that fails to get you to the next rep.
This is crucial because you want to focus the majority of the tension on the main muscle you’re working.
Because it is a pressing workout, the bench press also engages your triceps. There will be more tricep activation during the lift if you use the narrow grip bench press. The front delts are the third main muscle recruited in the bench press. They assist in lifting the weight upward and are second in significance to the chest—sometimes even more so.
If you’re benching in lower rep ranges, your deltoids will most likely take control. The bench press engages several other stabilizing muscles, including your core and glutes. But how does the broad grip bench press differ?
You can engage the pecs even more by gripping the barbell with a wider grip. The conventional grip is the polar opposite of the narrow grip, providing good tricep and chest activation. According to one study, a wider grip of 2 times the width of the shoulders is enough to recruit twice as many pec muscle fibers
When it comes to width, how wide is wide?
A wide grasp is defined as 1.5x to 2x the distance between your shoulder blades, with the standard being closer to 2x.
However, there are a number of criteria that will determine how wide you can (and should) go. Powerlifters, for example, are not allowed to stand more than 81cm apart.
The hashmark is already marked on most bars, so just cover it with your index fingers on both hands. Although people can go narrower, they are not permitted to go wider. However, there are still other considerations to be made outside of competition.
The length of the arms is the most important factor in determining the width of the grasp. It’s only natural for someone with naturally longer arms to choose a broader grip, simply because it’s more comfortable and produces more power.
This emphasizes the necessity of comparing your grip width to that of others unless you are certain that your arms are the same length.
Last but not least, we must consider general comfort and personal preference. Even while there are advantages to having a wider grip, some lifters may discover that they cannot adapt to it.
Even after months of trying, you may still prefer a narrower grasp, and there’s nothing wrong with that—do what feels right to you rather than rushing into a broader grip.
If your shoulder joint is important to you or if you have a history of shoulder trouble, you don’t want to go too broad.
The wide grip bench press’s benefits
While we already know that the broader grip engages the pecs more and disengages the triceps, there are other advantages to this lift.
The mechanics of a wide grip bench press have a big impact on your range of motion, the muscles you use, other powerlifting techniques, and putting your shoulders in a better posture.
Reduced motion range
The restricted range of motion on the broad grip bench is one of the most significant distinctions. Because your arms are spread farther apart, you won’t be able to raise the bar as high above your chest as you would with a tighter grip.
This will certainly limit the distance that the barbell must travel, implying that you will have to do less work during the exercise.
The point is that you’ll still be exerting the same amount of effort, albeit over a shorter distance, during the lift. This is advantageous since you’ll spend less energy to get the same level of muscle activation and development.
The most strong muscles were used
The bottom-end range of a bench press, when your elbows and shoulders are in full flexion, is the most difficult phase for most lifters (i.e., bent). This is where your pecs play a large role, and if you have powerful pecs, this is where you’ll get the most bang for your buck in terms of muscle activation and growth.
This is especially true for people with powerful pecs, since you want to use the bench press to your advantage. You’ll be able to lift more and achieve more results in your training if you play to your strengths.
That’s not to imply you should neglect your shoulders and triceps; rather, you should strengthen them with other exercises while using the broader grip to make the bench press primarily a chest workout.
This will allow you to lift a heavier load and achieve faster, more consistent results in your workout program.
Collaborate with other powerlifting methods
Because wide grip bench pressing is the sport’s standard, there is a maximum wide grip standard for powerlifters. This makes intuitive sense because a wider grasp reduces the range of motion and hence requires less energy (due to the shorter route) to lift the same amount of weight.
Powerlifters, on the other hand, employ a variety of techniques to shorten the range of motion of the lift and so increase the weight they can lift. Bringing your feet backward, rooting them to the floor, and then arching your back on the bench is a frequent method.
If your back is arched and your chest is pushed up high, the bar will reach your chest contact point faster as it travels down to your chest. Because you’ll be moving the bar over a considerably shorter distance when you combine the back arch with the broader grip, you’ll be able to bench more weight.
However, correct technique is required to maximize benefits and keep you safe, so don’t go to a much heavier weight right once.
Wide grip bench pressing instructions
However, before we can get the full benefits of a wide grip bench press, we must first learn how to bench press effectively. Warm up first, either with some easy sets or some stretches. This will increase blood flow to your muscles, preventing damage and maximizing results.
To begin, you’ll need to properly prepare yourself. Lie down on the bench with your back flat and your feet flat on the floor. You can bend your knees slightly to bring your feet closer to you on the floor. The barbell should be at eye level and directly above you.
Grip the barbell with an overhand grip 1.5-2 times wider than shoulder width apart. You may also imagine it as being 4″ closer to the plates than usual.
Engage your core and glutes, and grip the barbell firmly. Consider bending the bar away from you to create tension, which will improve stability.
Unrack the bar and let it hang above your chest while you press upward. Inhale deeply and drop the bar to your chest slowly. Make sure your elbows are parallel to your body.
The bar will be higher than in a typical bench press if you lightly touch it against your chest. When you come to this point, take a count.
Then exhale and return to the beginning position by driving your arms up with the bar. Continue for as many reps as you like, or rerack.
Is wide grip bench easier: Review
The more narrow you go, the more triceps you’ll see. When you bench press with a conventional or wider hand placement, you have more range of motion, less constriction, your pecs do more work, and your shoulders and triceps provide assistance. With a narrower grip, though, it’s more restricted, with your triceps performing the majority of the work and your pecs being unable to accomplish as much.
A wider grip may appear to be more convenient, but this is only due to physics. The shorter the bar route, the wider the grip. Force x Distance Equals Work Done (Energy). No matter how broad or narrow your grip is, the effort necessary to lift 225 pounds is the same, but the labor done is different. The distance the bar goes from start to lock out is the only thing that varies. This is fantastic, but it comes with a cost.
When your grip is excessively wide, it throws your joints out of alignment, putting you at risk of injury. If you want to bench for strength, make sure your wrists, elbows, and shoulders are all at the right angles.
F.A.Q is wide grip bench easier:
Are wide grip benches harder?
It’s a common misunderstanding that a wide grip bench press is more difficult, but it may feel that way if your pecs and shoulders are weak. Because the bar path on a wide grip bench press is shorter than on a regular bench press, you should be able to lift more.
Is wide grip better for chest?
This exercise was proven to be one of the most effective motions for eliciting a high amount of muscle activity in the pectoralis major in a study conducted by the American Council on Workout, making it a more effective targeted chest exercise than incline dumbbell flys or standard push-ups.
Is a closer or wider grip better for bench?
The following muscle groups were used: A bench press’s broader grip emphasizes the pectoral muscles, notably the pectoralis major. The close grip bench press, on the other hand, targets the triceps and anterior deltoid muscles in the front of the shoulders.
The wider you grip the bar, the more force you’ll generate with your chest muscles. Most powerlifters bench press with a wide grip of 1.5-2X shoulder width, however the exact grip you use should be determined by your body mechanics and personal preferences.
I hope the wide grip bench makes things easy for you.
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