The wide grip bench press is an exact replica of the standard bench press. The difference is the hand positioning on the barbel which is almost as twice for the former.
Choosing a grip on the bench press is crucial as it determines the muscles engaged, the distance travelled by the barbell from start to finish and the path of the bar. Many powerlifters go for the wide grip bench press whose grip is between 1.5 and 2 times wider than shoulder-width apart.
The exercise not only helps you develop your upper body strength but also a strong and hulking chest, making you look big. It optimally recruits your pecs resulting in production of maximum force off the chest.
Also, a wide grip reduces the range of motion of the movement thus decreasing the amount of work needed to press the barbell. However, do not be pressured into using a wide grip as it all depends on many individual factors.
HOW TO DO WIDE GRIP BENCH PRESS
Here are the steps for performing the exercise.
- Start by lying on your back on the bench with both feet flat on the floor. Ensure your knees are slightly bent and the barbell right above you at eye level.
- Hold the barbell very tightly at about 1.5 or 2 times wider than shoulder-width apart. Engage your core and glutes for stability.
- Now, unrack the barbell by pressing upward and let it hover above your chest. Inhale as you lower it towards your chest with your elbows perpendicular to your body.
- Touch the bar against your chest lightly then pause for a few seconds.
- Exhale, then raise your arms with the barbell back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps or rerack.
WIDE GRIP BENCH PRESS MUSCLES ENGAGED
The choice of grip does affect how the muscles used in the bench press are used to varying degrees. The wide grip bench press, like every bench press, targets the pectorals, deltoids, and triceps.
However, more emphasis is placed on the pectorals as compared to the delts and triceps. Consequently, you will notice greater upper chest activation with the wide grip than with a regular grip.
WIDE GRIP BENCH PRESS BENEFITS
REDUCED RANGE OF MOTION
The wide grip reduces your range of motion. This means that you’ll need to perform less work throughout even though you’ll still be applying the same amount of force.
Therefore, you will use less energy for the same amount of muscle activation and development.
STRONGEST MUSCLES USED
The move recruits the strongest muscles especially for the bottom-end range when your elbows and shoulders are bent. Having strong pecs increases your muscle activation and growth as you’ll lift heavier.
However, this does not mean that you ignore your shoulders and triceps. In the contrary, strengthen them with other exercises while the bench press remains primarily a chest workout with the wider grip.
WORK WITH OTHER POWERLIFTING TECHNIQUES
Using a wide grip is the standard in the weightlifting sports. This is because of the less energy used as compared to a narrower grip over the same amount of weight.
Other techniques used to reduce the range of motion are bringing your feet backward, rooting them to the floor, and then arching your back on the bench. Combining these techniques with the wider grip undoubtedly increases the amount of weight you can bench over a shorter distance.
SHOULDERS IN A STRONGER POSITION
A wider grip stabilizes your shoulders throughout the lift as they are pulled back and down. It’s difficult to prevent your shoulders from rolling in the wrong direction as you lift down with a narrow grip.
This could result in injury and reduced gains.
WIDE GRIP BENCH PRESS VARIATIONS
DUMBBELL WIDE GRIP BENCH PRESS
The dumbbell wide grip bench press is the dumbbell variation of the wide grip bench press. It forces each pec muscle to work on its own.
This is beneficial as it helps to correct muscle imbalances while also promoting proper form by activating more stabilization muscles.
RESISTANCE BAND WIDE GRIP BENCH PRESS
The use of resistance bands instead of a barbell is great if you’re still working on foundational strength or have limited equipment at home.
WIDE GRIP CHEST DIP
The wide grip chest dips are brutal but effective moves for the pecs. It helps to sculpt the lower and outer pecs to be more noticeable.
It is a solid finisher exercise that is performed by those with elite upper body strength.
WIDE GRIP PUSH-UP
The wide grip push-up is a body weight exercise. If you maintain proper push-up form, it can also be a core or even a full-body workout too.
WIDE GRIP BENCH PRESS MISTAKES TO AVOID
USING TOO MUCH WEIGHT
Even though the move involves a shorter range of motion which helps you lift heavier, it places an incredible amount of torque on your delicate deltoids.
This puts your shoulders under a lot of pressure as you do not get to engage your triceps as much. This could lead to injury, tears, and impingements.
Ensure that you start with lighter weights and stop immediately when you feel uncomfortable.
RUSHING TO GRIP WIDELY
Do not rush to a wider grip from a traditional bench grip as this is a huge change and you require time to adjust. Replacing the latter with the former outrightly, could lead to injury.
Wait until you have built foundational strength in your chest and shoulder muscles. Then, continue increasing your width with time working your way toward the real thing.
NOT USING A SPOTTER OR SMITH MACHINE
Make sure that you use a sotter or a smith machine when shifting from the standard bench to the wide grip bench press. This is because if you don’t, then the shift in muscle activation can throw you off.
As a result, the shoulder torque can be undeniably awkward.
The wide grip bench press is twice your shoulder-width distance and involves your chest muscles more to produce force. However, do not feel pressured to grip widely if you are not ready as it depends on your individual body mechanics and personal preferences.