Wide Grip Bench Press: Do You Really Need It and How To Make It

wide grip bench press

The bench press is some of the best and beloved exercises of many bodybuilders, powerlifters, or just anyone that wants to work on triceps, delts, shoulders e.t.c. It’s a tried and true classic – and for good reason, given how effective it is for building muscle and strength gain.

Perhaps this is why there are so many variations of the bench press  – incline barbell, glute bridge, narrow bench press, close grip – you name it. However one of the most popular types is a wide grip bench press. 

This wonderful exercise was used by many exceptional athletes such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, and many others.

So what is it about this type that is so effective? How to perform a wide grip bench press the right way? – We would be happy to share with you all this and more.

How To Make Wide Grip for BP?

In the wide grip bench press, the lifter’s arms are positioned wider onto the bar. And this distance is bigger the distance between your shoulders. 

Let’s start from the basics and take a look at the olympic barbell:

As you may see, there are two knurling marks on the bar – powerlifting and weightlifting. Also, some of the bars may have olympic knurl marks only on each side. So remember the next simple rules:

  1. If you make classic bench press, you should cover powerlifting (or olympic) knurling marks by your hands.
  2. If you want to make wide grip bench press, your hands should cover either weightlifiting marks or (if you didn’t found it) spots 3-5 cm closer to the bar sleeves.
how to take the bar for bench press

This is the optimal way to perform the wide grip bench that has been used by many professional athletes and powerlifters. 

Don't speedrun with the weights. If you're doing classical BP with 100 lbs, start with at least 80 lbs on wide grip.

Igor Makovetskyi

Igor Makovetskyi

IPF Professional Powerlifter, 2017 IPF World Classic Powerlifting Champion

How to make bench press with a wide grip?

Take a barbell with a wide grip (about 12-15 cm wider than shoulder width) and take it off the rack. The bar should be directly over the center of the chest. Inhale, slowly put down the bar to your chest, take 1 second, and push it up.

Additionally, take a look at the next pictures, where you can see narrow, classic and wide grip bench presses, as well as the right positions for your hands:

Narrow grip
Grip for the classical BP
Wide grip for BP

The Benefits of Wide Grip Bench Press

When it comes to the wide grip bench press benefits, there is plenty to talk about. 

So let’s take a closer look at the most important and amazing benefits that the wide grip bench press offers:

Better Chest Activation

One of the main reasons people are opting to keep their hands wide on the bar is because it allows for better upper chest activation. This means that you will be able to hit those muscles even better than before and to put them to work more effectively. Bodybuilders have been using the big grip width bench press trick to develop a thick and symmetric chest for decades. 

Less Range of Motion

While it may sound counterintuitive at first, having less range of motion, in this case, is a benefit since it can isolate your chest in such a way that the downside does not matter. While the barbell will travel less than before, your muscles will work twice as much due to the nature of your hold and thanks to the fact that you are primarily lifting with your chest and not shoulders or biceps. 

Less Likely to Injure Yourself

By using a wide hold, you are less prone to causing damage to your wrists and overall body. This is due to several factors such as the lesser range of motion and the verticality of the exercises that put less strain on wrists. 

Even the people who do bench press grip width powerlifting would recommend it, and those guys lift heavy for a living.

It Works Other Muscles Even Better

As opposed to a classical grip, you will be working out your triceps, biceps, and shoulders even better than before thanks to the angle at which you are working.  This will ensure that you will be able to get a properly developed V-shaped body.  

Great Way to Spice Up Your Training

We all know that once our body gets used to a certain type of exercise, it won’t be as effective as they were in the beginning. While the whole wide grip bench press vs normal hug argument can make sense for some, if you are someone who has trained for a considerable number of years, you might want to switch up your style of doing chest exercises to benefit from more muscle growth and to hit some muscles that you weren’t before.

Wide Grip vs Classic Grip

It’s been a long debate in the bodybuilding community about the difference between a wide approach and a normal one. While there are both great if you are looking to build muscles, they’re also completely different in terms of what they will help with. Let’s take a look at some of the instances in which you will want to use. 

When to use Wide Grip

There are a couple of instances in which you might want to use the wide hold instead of the normal method. These are all situations in which it’s highly recommended that you switch to a wide clasp.  

The first one is when you have been training for a while and you notice that you’re not making any progress. A different clasp could help with that issue and bring you even more gains from your already developed chest. 

The second reason you might want to switch your style is that, depending on your body, another type of hold might help you achieve even stronger lifts than before.  

When to use Normal Grip

On the contrary, if you are a beginner and are looking to put on a solid foundation you might want to try using a normal hold until you gather some experience in the gym. After you have hit a plateau or you are considering changing your exercises to surprise your muscle, you are now ready to use a wider approach.  

Conclusion

Overall, a wide grip bench press is an amazing exercise that will grant you amazing results if done right. Thus, you must always remember that the wider you spread your arms to grip, the more force you’ll have and the more your muscles will be working. Plus, you need to make sure that you keep your arms at least 1.5 shoulder-width apart. However, the grip width will also depend on what body type you have and how long your arms are. 

Thus, keep in mind all these little tips, and hope that the wide grip bench press will help you get one step closer to your fitness goals! 

So with that said, do you like having a wider grasp or do you prefer the classic way? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

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