Bench Press Grip Width: Wide vs Close-Grip

Key Points:

What are the main differences between the close-grip bench press and the regular (or wide grip) bench press? And which grip width should you use in your training?

In general, there is a small strength difference between these two lifts, and they also work your muscles slightly differently.

Close-Grip Bench Press vs. Bench Press Strength Ratio

On average, trained individuals seem to be about 5–6% stronger in the wide grip bench press compared to the close-grip bench press, measured in a 1RM lift.1 2

This means that most people are capable of producing higher force throughout the wide-grip bench press. The close-grip bench press, however, is generally performed faster and has a higher peak power.

Differences in Muscles Worked Between the Close-Grip vs. Wide Grip Bench Press

The close-grip bench press and the traditional style both work your chest, front delts, and triceps, but to a slightly different degree:

  • In a wide-grip bench press, your chest and shoulders contribute 78% of the force necessary to lift the bar, while your triceps contribute 22%.
  • In the close-grip bench press, the same numbers are 63% vs. 37%.
Wide grip bench press 1rm triceps vs chest and shoulder contribution
Close grip bench press 1rm triceps vs chest and shoulder contribution

Which Bench Press Grip Width Should You Use?

If your goal is to lift as much weight as possible (for example, if you’re competing in powerlifting), you should try out various grip widths and techniques to see which one you’re the strongest in. The odds are that you will be 5–6% stronger with a wide grip than a close grip.

If you want to build your chest and front delts, both bench press styles are good alternatives, but using a medium or wide grip might be slightly superior. For the best triceps development, a close grip is preferable, along with direct triceps work.

Further reading:

Muscle group guides:

References

  1. Front Sports Act Living. 2020; 2: 637066. A Biomechanical Analysis of Wide, Medium, and Narrow Grip Width Effects on Kinematics, Horizontal Kinetics, and Muscle Activity on the Sticking Region in Recreationally Trained Males During 1-RM Bench Pressing
  2. Sports (Basel). 2017 Jun 24;5(3):46. An Investigation of the Mechanics and Sticking Region of a One-Repetition Maximum Close-Grip Bench Press versus the Traditional Bench Press.
Photo of author

Daniel Richter

Daniel has a decade of experience in powerlifting, is a certified personal trainer, and has a Master of Science degree in engineering. Besides competing in powerlifting himself, he coaches both beginners and lifters at the international level. Daniel lives in Lund, Sweden with his wife and three kids. On StrengthLog, Daniel geeks out about all things related to his lifelong passion of muscle and strength.