Why Is the Powerlifting Bench Press Grip So Narrow?

I looked up the rules for the powerlifting bench press and the maximum width that the athlete is allowed to use is just under 32 inches wide from forefinger to forefinger. Why is it this narrow?

Which federation is that?

The rules for feds i’ve looked at are 81cm, or just under 37".

Conversions not propah baby pls.


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Wow. I used lb / kg conversion for cm / inches.

Thats embarassing…


Yea, 81cm comes out to 31.8 inches or so. That is about 4.5 inches on either side of my body. I can barely get 30 degrees at the armpit on my lift if I hold the grip that narrow.

I have between a 76" and 80" reach (fingertip to fingertip). It just seems to favor smaller people over larger… >.<

One day some guys from the AAU were deciding what Powerlifting was going to be. What lifts and to what “standards.” They asked Paul Anderson, the strongest man in the world what he thought, and he said that was a great width for the bench press.

That’s the rule because the strongest guy said so.


So… The guy who isn’t even 5’ 10" decided that it should be that narrow? I bet it was a wide grip for him. All 350 lbs of him!! :laughing:

You can’t really go much wider or the hooks on the rack will get in the way.

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I don’t understand what you mean? On every squat, bench, etc… that I have been on, I can go much wider than 81 cm. Do you have a picture so I can understand better. I am not saying that you aren’t describing it well, I just don’t know what you mean by “hooks on the rack”

The hooks where the bar rests on a rack, some people call them “j-hooks”. You can go wider, but how much wider? And if you fail an attempt and the spotters aren’t careful it is likely to result in either a crushed hand or one side of the bar falling down on you.

That’s just one reason I can see that they need to limit how wide you can grip the bar, but I read something talking about the early days of PL and how some people were bouncing the bar off their chest, lifting their ass off the bench, and gripping by the collars. People wanted some standardized rules so that it would be more about a test of strength rather than flexibility and rib strength so it became what it is. You can’t make people bench with their whole back touching the bench without blowing out a few shoulders so there isn’t a reasonable way to prevent arching, that’s why it is allowed as long as the hips are on the bench.

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I used to bench with an Oly bar with fingers on rings with no issues interfering with the uprights (I have long arms). Those were 36" apart.

This was my first thought too but I’ve not been using IPF/comp approved racks much.

So this dude is 40cm/15 and a bit inches from the middle. Moving out 3 inches it’s getting uncomfortably close to the hooks.

EDIT: Found it. IPF Technical Rulebook, “Minimum width between insides of bar rests shall be 1.10 m.”

These measurements are probably arbitrary for the sake of standardization and they do fuck with lifters with longer wingspans but then again you don’t see Kirill Sarychev bitching about it.

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There is no way that that is 15 inches. Maybe it is 15 inches to the middle of his chest.


Completely missed that bit. My mind just decided that those words didn’t exist. lol