Bench Press Hand Position
Your hand position during the bench press can depend on many things. It also has a dramatic effect on how much
you can lift and your technique during the movement.
Many people are unsure as to how they should place their hands on the bar during the bench press, but luckily
this article will clear everything up.
I will outline each different way of holding the bar and explain the advantages and disadvantages of each
Read on to learn how your hand position is affecting your bench press and what you can do to improve it!
First of all, it should be noted that your wrist and thumb position during the bench press is equally as
important as your hand position on the bar. During the lift, your wrists should remain as straight as possible.
Bending the wrists backwards encourages your arms to bend towards your head as you lower the weight. Also, you
should always grip the bar with your thumb wrapped around it. Gripping the bar without your thumb is commonly
called a “suicide” grip – likely because it can result in serious injury if done incorrectly.
Many people swear by this grip, but it is indeed a dangerous one. It is most commonly used by lifters when they
first start bench pressing so that they can get the bar over the very end of their arm and off of their wrist.
It may be so popular because by having your thumb join in the flexion with your other fingers, you are making
the pushing motion more biomechanically correct and “natural”. My suggestion – the benefits do not outweigh the
With that being said, there are usually three different hand positions that you can use during the bench press.
The first is what is called the close-grip bench press. This is performed by placing your hands approximately 16
Of course, this length will vary from person to person, but generally you want you hands to be less than
shoulder width apart. A close-grip bench press works the pectorals but also focuses a large amount of tension on
the triceps; making this an ideal hand position for those who want to target their triceps.
The second hand position is the normal-grip. This is the most common grip and the one best suited for beginners.
Your hands are placed approximately shoulder width apart on the bar (the marked rings on the bar are usually a good
indicator). This grip will bring much of the tension on to your pectorals while still engaging the triceps.
The third and final hand position is the wide-grip. A wide grip makes it easier to lift the weight – but only
because you are shortening the distance you have to lift it. This is why powerlifting competitions have a maximum
amount of space that your hands can be placed.
It is believed that a wider grip will target the upper
pectorals and shoulders more intensely. However, this can increase the risk of injuring your shoulders.
Experiment with different hand positions and figure out what works the best for you!