T Nation

Bench Press Grip Width

How wide should you grip the bar in order to lift the most amount of weight in the bench press? I skimmed over the Dave Tate articles and it didn’t really cover grip width. I know that this is different for everyone, but generally how far apart should your thumbs be at the top of lift (eg. shoulder width plus one inch?) or when the bar is at the bottom (when your upper arms are in line with your torso) what should your elbow angle be. Thanks a lot.

When the bar hits your chest, your forearms should be perpendicular to the ground.

as you said, it is different for everyone. just experiment with different widths and see what works best for you.

Thanks for your opinion Joey, but the real answer is it depends what you have been using. For example if you were usuing an ultra-wide grip, that is the grip that you will most likely be able to lift the most weight with. In terms of in the future, I would tend to lean toward westside’s grip, but feel free to see which works best for you.

actually, Tim, Joel’s ‘opinion’ is informed by the question of where you will get optimal leverage to move the bar. Yes, pattern specificity and adaptation will play a role, but the original post didn’t ask “how can I lift the most weight” but “How wide should your grip be in order to lift the most weight in the bench press?” - In other words, where is the optimum general location for positioning one’s hands. I can almost guarantee you that if you took two lifters of identical genetics and training, and had one train exclusively wide grip, and one train exclusively with a grip joel advocated, that the latter will lift more. Its just a mechanical advantage.

Take an empty bar, breathe in DEEEEEEEEEEEP. Give yourself a strong arch so that you can use your lats as a platform. Forearms perpendicular to the ground, elbows pinned to the side.

what is conseidered west-side grip? is it wider or narrower then what joel suggests. generally the furhter away your grip the less bar travel. Powerlifters try to minimize the amount of travel of the bar. joel’s answer seems to makes sense, since from physical point of view since all you power would be directed towards the bar and not at an angle. i also tried that specific grip with a broom stick and i felt a lot of different muscle recruitment, lats, delts, tris, chest. laters pk

What I posted previously was the most efficacious grip-width as far as proper form is concerned; I apologize that I did not read the post clearly. If lifting the most weight is your concern, here’s an excerpt from a MM 2000 article by shawn phillips:

First of all, there seems to be an endless debate about what the proper bench-press grip is. There’s a wide-grip school, a medium-grip school, and an in-between grip school. For our purposes here, I want you to try a little test that will help determine the best bench-press grip for you, not Tom, Dick, or Harry. Get on the floor, and without thinking about it, assume your natural push-up position. Have someone measure the distance between your two forefingers. That’s probably your optimum bench-press grip. Remember it, and use it during this program.

This may seem simple and unscientific, but the body will almost always assume the position that gives it the best mechanical advantage. Trust your body.


For more on Tate and westside, to westsides site. Joey, when Shawn starts winning powerlifting medals and stops having his abs liposuctioned I’ll take advise from him.