When it comes to bench press, there are several technical things that tend to be holding most people back. I’m going to touch on one that seems to be more common in women, but men make this mistake too.
Most people just assume that you can grab the barbell anywhere and be able to bench press. While this is true, a lot has to change depending on where you place your grip. Women tend to place their hands about shoulder width apart and men tend to grab the bar wide. That in and of itself is not the problem. The problem lies in the relationship between the elbow and the wrist. If the hands are in close and the elbows are out wide, you will lose strength.
NOTE: This is the same problem that I see with women doing pushups. Their hands are shoulder width apart, up by the forehead and the elbows go out to the side. This is typically because their triceps are weak, so the only thing left to do is to put all the stress on the shoulders. Bad for shoulders and not a strong position.
So, the question that is asked… what grip do I use?
As with a lot of training things, it will vary. You need to find where you are the strongest. This is typically based on your limb length and where you are strongest. If you don’t know the answer to these, start with this: Put the tip of your thumb right at the gnurling line (where the grippy part meets the smooth). Where your hands are placed is a good start. (Be sure to still wrap your thumbs around the bar.)
Closer grip and wider grip benches are still helpful in your training to build various parts of your bench press. If you always bench with the same grip (your “normal” grip), you will stall. Even changing up the grip by an inch will force you to get stronger in different positions. Remember, when it comes to maximal effort training, it’s not always about the weight used… it’s about straining and time under tension.
Stay tuned for more in this bench press series. If you have specific bench press issues you want addressed, leave a comment below!