Bench Press Position and Grip
Positioning for the Bench Press
Before performing the bench press it is important to get your body into the right position and think about your bench press grip.
If you ensure you are lying in the right position and your grip is correct before you start, you will be able to lift more weight and achieve more reps.
To begin, lie on the bench – either on an upright support bench or a bench inside a power rack. Your feet should be flat on the ground either side of the bench with your legs in a wide position.
Your legs should be about hip width or slightly wider apart with knees bent and calves perpendicular to the ground. Now it is time to ensure you have three points of contact with the bench.
Three points of contact with the bench
You should always maintain a three point contact with the bench throughout your press: your back, glutes and head. These three body parts should always be resting on the bench without any arching or extension of the lower back.
If your back needs to extend or arch in order for your feet to touch flat to the ground, you should get a box to rest your feet on.
The spine should always be in a neutral position. Your abdominals and hips should be tight and engaged, with shoulders pulled back and chest out.
This three point contact with tight abs, neutral spine and feet flat on the floor puts you in the best position to give your strongest lift with the bench press.
Bench press grip
The kind of grip you take when performing the bench press will determine the exact area of the chest you will be working. Your bench press grip will also decide how much the synergist muscles, or ‘helper’ muscles, will aid in the movement.
A narrower grip works the central chest and triceps the most, whereas a wider grip works the outer chest. The best bench press grip for overall development is somewhere in between, around a shoulder and a half width.
Use an overhand grip, that is with thumbs curled around on the other side from your fingers.
The bar should be positioned directly over your chest and, as you prepare to lift, make sure your wrist is neutral, firm and straight and not cocked/bent.
This firm wrist position will ensure you can support the weight, increase the amount of weight you can press and reduce your risk of injury.
Many lifters find that using a narrow bench press grip gives an excellent boost to a central chest workout and engages the triceps well.
The downside is that they often find they can’t lift as heavy as when using a wider grip. This is because when you use a narrow grip, you are not getting as much help from the wider chest and shoulders. All the pressure of the weight is on your central chest and triceps.
If the bench press grip is very wide, some lifters find this stresses the anterior shoulders too much.
Your biggest bench press will come from using a grip that is just wider than shoulder width. This is the most comfortable bench press grip that will enable good use of shoulders, central and wider chest and triceps.
When all these muscles pull together in this great compound lift, you can achieve bigger lifts and exercise all your upper body muscles.